The New Orleans Saints have five players who were selected to the 2012 Pro Bowl roster.
Three of these players, Jahri Evans, Carl Nicks and Jimmy Graham, were elected as starters, and Drew Brees and Jermon Bushrod are both reserves.
There's no doubt that these five guys are among the best in the NFC, and in the entire league, but some got it just on their reputation and past performances.
There are many more players on the Saints that deserved to be voted into the Pro Bowl and others around the NFL as well.
The Saints are truly hoping that they will have zero representatives in the Pro Bowl because if any of their players are in Hawaii then that means they will not be playing in the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
However, for now, the Saints will have five representatives in Hawaii for the 2012 Pro Bowl.
Let's look at each of these players individually and how well they have played in 2011.
We all expected Drew Brees to earn a Pro Bowl this year.
It would be ludicrous if he was not a Pro Bowler in 2011. However, there will probably be some arguments as to if he should have been the starter over Aaron Rodgers or not.
Both quarterbacks have had astounding 2011 seasons. Rodgers got off to a very fast start, but Brees has been better in the last two months of football.
I am hoping that this Pro Bowl voting is not indicative as to what will happen when the MVP is awarded.
However, Brees deserved this Pro Bowl vote, and I am sure we all saw this one coming.
This is another selection who does not deserve much discussion.
Jimmy Graham has definitely been the best tight end in the NFC this year—and arguably the best in the NFL.
He's setting all sorts of New Orleans Saints records and will continue to do so until he retires. In 2011, Graham has been Drew Brees' top target and has reeled in anything within his eight-foot wingspan.
Graham has done more than enough to earn a Pro Bowl bid and to start for the NFC. This selection was no surprise at all, and it will not be surprising to see Graham in many more Pro Bowls before he retires.
The selection of Jermon Bushrod as a reserve tackle for the NFC came as a bit of a surprise to me, but I think he definitely deserves the recognition.
The only reason that I was surprised by Bushrod's selection is because I thought for sure that the NFL was going to overlook him. Bushrod has performed very well this year, and overall since he became the starting left tackle in 2009.
I believe you could make a good argument that Bushrod should be starting for the NFC because of just how dominant he has been in 2011.
He has helped a New Orleans offensive line in allowing only 24 sacks and 51 total hits on Brees. He has also helped the Saints to the ninth-ranked rushing attack in the league.
Bushrod deserves this award very much, and it was encouraging to see him being selected.
The Pro Bowl voting system gets a lot of well deserved scrutiny, but they somehow managed to get this one right.
The selection of Jahri Evans as the starting right guard for the NFC in 2011 is a bit worrisome.
I believe that Evans has played well in 2011 and is still one of the best, if not the best, guards in the league. However, this season has not been as good for Evans as his past performances.
Evans may have been selected to this Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the NFL's elite guards. He has been to Pro Bowls before and people know his name. For that reason, I believe Evans was selected in 2011.
I am not trying to take anything away from him because he has helped the Saints offensive line to an outstanding season, and he has been a key factor in that, but 2011 was definitely not as good of a season for Evans as previous years.
Evans will be representing the NFC in the Pro Bowl this year, but he will need to step up his performance if he wants to be back next year.
Carl Nicks is very comparable to Jahri Evans.
Nicks has been to a Pro Bowl before, and people recognize him as one of the best guards in all of football. He may, in fact, be the best left guard in the game right now.
However, 2011 has been below average for Nicks. In my opinion, Nicks has outperformed Evans this year, but Nicks still has not been overwhelmingly impressive.
He has definitely been a major factor in the Saints pass and run blocking game and will continue to play very well, but he could have played better at times in the 2011 season.
Nicks more than likely is starting in this year's Pro Bowl because of his reputation, but he will be back next year if he has similar performance. Sadly, that's how the Pro Bowl voting goes. Offensive lineman typically can make the Pro Bowl 10 years in a row if they're still starting for a winning team.
Nicks is a very good guard and has played well in 2011, but he will likely have to play a little better in 2012 to visit Hawaii again.