College Football Programs That Produced the Most 2016 NFL Pro Bowl Players
As college football fans focus on the stars of tomorrow in the final weekend of this year's recruiting cycle, some of the game's stars of the past will be lining up in Hawaiian paradise for the 2016 Pro Bowl.
While some may argue against the existence of the laid-back showcase each year, the event is an honor for many players who grind through 16-plus weeks of a season.
And even if you don't prefer the NFL game, the Pro Bowl can be a good way to catch up on the best of the best from your favorite school. Plus, it will be one of the last live football-like substances easily available on your various screens for quite a while.
Which college teams are the best represented in this year's record-size, fantasy-drafted Pro Bowl roster? Here are the 13 schools that have at least three alumni who were either first choices or late replacements.
Many of these names will be obvious for their many years of producing large numbers of NFL prospects. But there are a few less prestigious programs that may surprise you with their number of top pro players.
- DE Cameron Jordan (New Orleans Saints)
- C Alex Mack (Cleveland Browns)
- QB Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
Cal is set to put another highly rated quarterback into the NFL this year with Jared Goff, who will join former Golden Bears great Aaron Rodgers at the next level. Rodgers will not play in this year's Pro Bowl, but this will be his fifth selection to the event in the last seven seasons.
Defensive end Cameron Jordan, who played at Cal from 2007 to 2010, is making his second Pro Bowl appearance in three seasons. He is coming off a 10-sack season with the New Orleans Saints, who selected him in the first round of the 2011 draft.
Center Alex Mack will be at the Pro Bowl for the third time in his seven-year NFL career with the Cleveland Browns. Another first-round pick, Mack was a three-time All-Pac 10 offensive lineman and a constant force for the Golden Bears offense.
- DE Carlos Dunlap (Cincinnati Bengals)
- S Reggie Nelson (Cincinnati Bengals)
- C Mike Pouncey (Miami Dolphins)
Two former defensive Gators who now suit up for the Cincinnati Bengals have been selected to this year's Pro Bowl. Carlos Dunlap was added to the roster after his best season as a pro—he ranked fourth among all NFL defenders in the regular season with 13.5 sacks.
Former All-American safety Reggie Nelson won't be participating in the game this year, but he was an easy Pro Bowl selection for the 2015 season. He tied for the league lead in interceptions with eight and had 14 pass deflections.
Two-time All-American and now three-time Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey will not play in this year's all-star showcase, but he was the only first-choice selection from the Miami Dolphins this season. He's been invited to the Pro Bowl both as a guard and a center in his young NFL career.
- TE Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati Bengals)
- OG Zack Martin (Dallas Cowboys)
- S Harrison Smith (Minnesota Vikings)
Former Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert's breakout 2015 campaign was justly rewarded with an invitation to the Pro Bowl, where he'll suit up for Team Irvin. As Jason Marcum of SB Nation's Cincy Jungle noted, Eifert had more touchdown receptions than any other NFL player through Week 12, but injuries kept him out of the running for the title in the last few weeks of the season.
Zack Martin followed up his superb rookie campaign with another Pro Bowl selection this season, and he was a second-team All-Pro at offensive guard. The former first-round pick has started every game of his NFL career for Dallas.
Harrison Smith took his game to an elite level at safety in 2015, and he was a deserving addition to the roster in place of the injured Earl Thomas. Smith was tied for the second-best NFL safety grade by Pro Football Focus.
- DT Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
- RB Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)
- OT Trent Williams (Washington Redskins)
For the seventh time in nine years, Adrian Peterson is a Pro Bowler, and the NFL's rushing leader was a no-brainer as the first running back selection in the game's fantasy draft. While the game may not be a big deal to some, Peterson said before the teams became official that a spot would "excite" him.
"It would be pretty big," Peterson said, per Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "It would just be a good testament to the work I put in and the group of guys that I have surrounding me."
Gerald McCoy was another easy call at the Pro Bowl—his fourth straight one—and he'll join a fellow Sooner in Peterson on Team Rice. Trent Williams, one of McCoy's former Oklahoma teammates and the only representative from Washington, will not play in his fourth Pro Bowl because of an injury.
- WR Brandon Marshall (New York Jets)
- RB Latavius Murray (Oakland Raiders)
- OG Josh Sitton (Green Bay Packers)
Winless UCF just went through one of the most miserable football seasons in recent memory, but perhaps Golden Knights fans can take some joy out of seeing three former players get selected to this year's Pro Bowl—the most of any non-power-conference program.
Brandon Marshall, fresh off a 1,500-yard season with the New York Jets, is a Pro Bowler for the sixth time in his career—but he will not play in the game because of injury. Latavius Murray is one of a surprising six selections from the Oakland Raiders, as he'll replace Jonathan Stewart at this year's game.
Josh Sitton was selected to his third Pro Bowl in four years as a valuable member of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line. According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, Sitton played all but eight of the Packers' 1,292 offensive snaps this season.
- TE Gary Barnidge (Cleveland Browns)
- QB Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota Vikings)
- LB Elvis Dumervil (Baltimore Ravens)
- C Eric Wood (Buffalo Bills)
The monster turnover of Pro Bowl quarterbacks—11 were officially selected after four pulled out because of injury and one punched his ticket to the Super Bowl—opened up a spot in Hawaii for former Louisville gunslinger Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater, who was a star at Louisville from 2011 to 2013, helped lead the Vikings to a playoff berth while improving almost all of his passing numbers from his first season.
Originally a Pro Bowl snub, Gary Barnidge will be a part of the game, joining Delanie Walker as replacements for Rob Gronkowski and Greg Olsen. He had more than 1,000 receiving yards and caught nine touchdown passes this season for the Browns.
Elvis Dumervil was added to the Pro Bowl for the sixth time in his illustrious pass-rushing career earlier this week, along with former Cardinal offensive lineman Eric Wood. The center played a key part in the Bills' rushing attack, which was No. 1 in the NFL this season.
- K Josh Brown (New York Giants)
- LB Lavonte David (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
- OG Richie Incognito (Buffalo Bills)
- P Sam Koch (Baltimore Ravens)
Former Nebraska linebacker Lavonte David is headed to the Pro Bowl at outside linebacker thanks to Von Miller and Demarcus Ware's trip to the Super Bowl. The first-time Pro Bowler had the third-most tackles of anyone in the NFL this season with 147.
Richie Incognito also picked up a trip to the Pro Bowl in the first season of his second run with the Buffalo Bills—one year after he missed the entire 2014 season. Incognito's second Pro Bowl selection comes as a replacement for Mike Iupati of the Arizona Cardinals.
The Huskers will be well-represented in the special teams game, too. Half of the Pro Bowl's specialists are former Nebraska players—kicker Josh Brown and punter Sam Koch.
Brown was added to the Pro Bowl earlier this week in place of Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Koch made the Pro Bowl for the first time in his 10-year NFL career and bought Apple Watches for seven of his teammates, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.
- LB Navorro Bowman (San Francisco 49ers)
- LB Tamba Hali (Kansas City Chiefs)
- LB Sean Lee (Dallas Cowboys)
- WR Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Penn State prides itself on being known as "Linebacker U," and there isn't a more obvious representation of that than this year's Pro Bowl roster. Three of the 16 selections at the position used to suit up for the Nittany Lions, including former teammates NaVorro Bowman and Sean Lee.
According to Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Lee's first-ever selection to the Pro Bowl made him emotional because of all the injuries the linebacker has overcome during his NFL career.
Lee will be on Team Irvin with Bowman, who led the NFL in tackles this season. They played together at Penn State and were part of the same NFL draft class.
In addition to Tamba Hali, who is a Pro Bowler for the sixth straight season, Penn State also has former wide receiver Allen Robinson at the all-star showcase. Robinson broke out for 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in his second season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- DT Aaron Donald (St. Louis Rams)
- WR Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)
- RB LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)
- CB Darrelle Revis (New York Jets)
The Pittsburgh Panthers arguably have the best top-to-bottom group of former players selected to this year's Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, only one of them will be suiting up in the game, as the rest pulled out with injuries.
Larry Fitzgerald, who was a Heisman runner-up in 2003 for the Panthers, was selected to his ninth Pro Bowl this season. It was a resurgent one for the 32-year-old Fitzgerald, who set a career high in receptions while helping lead his team to the NFC Championship Game.
Four-time Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy continued his strong rushing performances in his new home of Buffalo before a late-season injury, and Darrelle Revis made it seven selections in eight seasons with lockdown work in his return to the New York Jets.
Aaron Donald made it 2-of-2 in NFL seasons with Pro Bowl selections. The dominant defensive tackle raised his level of play for the Rams in 2015 and was also named a first-team All-Pro. Not bad at all for a relative newcomer to the pros.
- C Travis Frederick (Dallas Cowboys)
- OT Joe Thomas (Cleveland Browns)
- DE J.J. Watt (Houston Texans)
- QB Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
If Pittsburgh has the best top-to-bottom collection of Pro Bowlers, then Wisconsin might lay claim to the best offense-defense combination of superstars with Russell Wilson and J.J. Watt.
Wilson will play in this Pro Bowl, which is his third selection in four seasons, as a member of Team Irvin with Jameis Winston and Teddy Bridgewater. The Seahawks star couldn't get back to the Super Bowl for the third straight season, but he had a monster year in which he broke both franchise and NFL records.
J.J. Watt won't play in his fourth straight Pro Bowl because of an injury, but he was an extremely easy call yet again for the event after leading the league in sacks for the second time in his career. The most dominant defensive player in the NFL was also a first-team All-Pro choice for the fourth consecutive season.
Wisconsin also is known for producing strong offensive linemen in the NFL ranks, and the Badgers boast two former players in center Travis Frederick and tackle Joe Thomas. Frederick is making his second straight Pro Bowl appearance, while Thomas will be participating in what is his ninth Pro Bowl selection in nine NFL seasons.
- DT Geno Atkins (Cincinnati Bengals)
- LB Thomas Davis (Carolina Panthers)
- WR A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals)
- RB Todd Gurley (St. Louis Rams)
- LB Justin Houston (Kansas City Chiefs)
- S Reshad Jones (Miami Dolphins)
Explosive offensive talent and hardened defensive stars define the Georgia contingent selected to this year's Pro Bowl. The Bulldogs are one of three teams with a half-dozen Pro Bowlers and are headlined by recent rushing star Todd Gurley.
Gurley ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards this season, which is remarkable considering he was a rookie coming off a major knee injury. Gil Brandt of NFL.com called Gurley a "future Pro Bowl fixture" similar to the great Adrian Peterson for what he was able to showcase in his rookie campaign.
A.J. Green is now 5-of-5 in Pro Bowl selections as an NFL player, as he posted yet another 1,000-yard season for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015. According to Geoff Hobson of the Bengals' official website, Green tied Chad Johnson as the only Cincinnati skill players to ever make it to five straight Pro Bowls.
On the defensive side of the ball, former Bulldogs Justin Houston and Thomas Davis were selected as Pro Bowl linebackers—although neither will play in the game. Houston, last year's NFL sack leader, will sit out with an injury, while first-time Pro Bowl pick Davis while be preparing for the Super Bowl with his red-hot Carolina Panthers.
Elsewhere on defense, former All-SEC defensive tackle Geno Atkins is a Pro Bowler for the fourth time in five seasons. Reshad Jones was initially an angry Pro Bowl snub after his record-setting season at safety for the Dolphins, but he's a member of Team Irvin for the game.
- WR Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants)
- WR Jarvis Landry (Miami Dolphins)
- S Tyrann Mathieu (Arizona Cardinals)
- CB Patrick Peterson (Arizona Cardinals)
- OG Trai Turner (Carolina Panthers)
- OT Andrew Whitworth (Cincinnati Bengals)
The LSU pipeline continues to pump in great talent to the NFL, and six former Bayou Bengals were selected to participate in this year's Pro Bowl. The top duo from the SEC power is Pro Bowl captain Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, two elite wide receivers who notably faced each other on Monday Night Football this season.
Beckham and Landry both played at LSU from 2011 to 2013 and were selections in the 2014 NFL draft. In the Pro Bowl, these pass-catching stars will be on the same team yet again, and Landry is "pumped" about it, according to NFL on ESPN.
A pair of former Tigers who were already teammates in the NFL ranks, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, were selected to the Pro Bowl but will be out with injury. The two combined for eight interceptions this season as members of the dominant secondary of the Arizona Cardinals.
Along the offensive line, second-year offensive guard Trai Turner made the Pro Bowl but will not play because of the Panthers' Super Bowl run. Andrew Whitworth is back at the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2012 after being snubbed of a spot several times.
- DT Jurrell Casey (Tennessee Titans)
- DE Everson Griffen (Minnesota Vikings)
- C Ryan Kalil (Carolina Panthers)
- LB Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers)
- QB Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)
- OT Tyron Smith (Dallas Cowboys)
This NFL season was a blast from the past for one particular former USC Trojan—2002 Heisman-winning quarterback Carson Palmer.
The Arizona Cardinals quarterback was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time in almost a decade after throwing career highs in touchdowns (35) and yardage (4,671) while only having 11 interceptions to his name. Palmer withdrew from the Pro Bowl because of a finger injury, but he was a deserving selection in 2015.
Other former USC stars who had strong seasons in 2015 include Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl in seven years. His stats aren't as impressive as they used to be when he was an outside linebacker, but he's still getting plenty of recognition following his move inside.
Defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and Everson Griffen are both making their first Pro Bowl appearances. The two teammates were former All-Pac 10 performers during the late 2000s with the Trojans.
On the other side of the trenches, five-time Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil will be preparing to compete for his first Super Bowl ring. Offensive tackle Tyron Smith, a former USC right tackle, is a Pro Bowler for the third time in his career.
Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.