When players ascend to Las Vegas for the 2023 Pro Bowl things are going to be a bit different than previous years. The NFL has done away with the traditional AFC vs. NFC football game they’ve played in the past. Electing to go the “safer” route with a flag football game – which is practically what the game has turned into at this point anyway.
Accompanying the game of two-hand touch will be a week-long skills competition. The NFL has partnered with Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions to help bring more juice to the event. Pro Bowl voting is currently up and running and there are quite a few deserving Bucs that should be making the trip come February. That is, of course, if they’re not playing in the Super Bowl.
QB Tom Brady
Brady heads into Thanksgiving weekend Top 5 in passing yards and has been his usual consistent self all season. The touchdowns (12) aren’t there this year, but he has cut down on the mistakes with just two interceptions. Inconsistencies in the red zone have been just part of his lack of scoring production. Injuries to his top targets have also helped contribute as he has questionable play calling at times.
However, Brady has historically played his best ball in late November into December, and finally has a healthy group of playmakers around him. Combine that with lackluster play in the NFC at the quarterback position, and if he continues his trend, he’ll be a shoo-in for a Pro Bowl bid. Whether the Bucs quarterback shows up or not is the real question.
WR Mike Evans
The Bucs offense is finally starting to find its groove, but it’s going to need to continue for Evans to earn his fifth Pro Bowl nod. He has 671 yards on the season, just 329 away from nine straight 1,000 yard seasons, to go with three touchdowns. He and Brady will need to ramp up their production over the final seven games to cement his spot for him.
The ninth-year wideout hasn’t found the end zone since Week 4, but is seventh in receiving yards in the NFC. Meanwhile the AFC is loaded with talent at the position, which could work in his favor when it comes to voting. Justin Jefferson is a lock and AJ Brown is close behind, but with a strong close to the season Evans could land one of the final two spots at the position.
RT Tristan Wirfs
Wirfs has been a model of consistency at right tackle all season long. The Bucs’ third-year tackle is arguably the best right guard in all of football and performs at a high level week in and week out. Wirfs should make his second straight Pro Bowl as well as landing the top spot on the All-Pro roster once again in 2022.
RG Shaq Mason
Mason has quietly been having himself a heck of a season with the Bucs. He has the third best pass blocking grade amongst guards in the NFC and fifth best overall blocking grade. He’ll have some competition from the likes of Dallas ‘Zach Martin and Atlanta’s Chris Lindstrom, but he should be right in the mix for a spot on the NFC squad’s Pro Bowl roster.
DT Vita Vea
The NFC is loaded with talent along the defensive line, with the Rams’ Aaron Donald leading the way. Though Vea has taken his pass rush to another level this season setting a career-high 6.5 sacks with seven games left to play. While his run defense hasn’t been what most Bucs fans are accustomed to, he has still been plenty stout in that area and has benefited from the return of Akiem Hicks. Selected as an injury alternate last season, Vea is turning in a solid resume to be considered for the initial roster.
ILB Devin White
White is an interesting case. He’s arguably the league’s most athletic inside linebacker and is capable of making a splash play at any moment. However, he goes through lapses where he doesn’t even look like an NFL-caliber linebacker. After starting the season hot and earning NFC Player of the Month honors, he looked unplayable in his next few contests, before bouncing back over the last two games.
His five sacks are tied for second-most by an inside linebacker the season, trailing only New Orleans’ Demario Davis (6.5). Like Vea, White has benefited from the return of Hicks opening things up for him. He is still considered one of the top linebackers in the game by many in the league, which could work in his favor. If he continues his high level of play from the last two games, it could earn him a spot on the Pro Bowl roster as a reserve or a top injury replacement.
CB Jamel Dean
Dean has been playing lights out this season and really deserves his first Pro Bowl nod. However, he doesn’t possess the household name many of his competitors do. Dean has the highest tackling grade of any corner in the league and even when he gives up a catch he is usually right there to shut it down. He’s letting up just over 51 percent of passes thrown his way, but he has only allowed 176 yards on the year.
Not only has Dean been strong in coverage for the Bucs, he’s also been extremely effective in run support as well with 11 stops on the year. He’s allowed just two touchdowns while reeling in two interceptions and forcing a fumble. Dean is unlikely to be selected to the Pro Bowl but there’s no doubt he belongs there after the year he is having.
DB Antoine Winfield Jr.
Even after missing two games due to a concussion, Winfield has been one of the top players at his position in the league. He has a Top 3 grade in run defense, tackling, and pass rush, per Pro Football Focus, and his three sacks are the second most in the league by a defensive back. He’s also tallied an interception and a forced fumble for the Bucs, while only allowing 161 yards through the air. Winfield has played a majority of his snaps in the slot this year but it shouldn’t be held against him. If he can continue to play at a high level he should not only make the Pro Bowl but should be in consideration for All-Pro honors.
K Ryan Succop
Succop is the current NFL leader in field goals made this season with 22. He’s missed just three on the season with one of those blocked. In addition, he has improved his range and has knocked in 10 from 40 yards or more including a pair from beyond 50 yards. Succop is nailing 88% of his field goals and is perfect on extra points this season.
You can vote for your favorite Bucs players for the 2023 Pro Bowl here.