The Pro Bowl: One of the biggest jokes in sports, but one of the biggest honors as well. All players dream of being considered as one of the elite at their position, and getting the invitation is the culmination of their efforts.
Last year, Seattle sent five players to the game. Marshawn Lynch went for the second time (2008 as well), while Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner, Kam Chancellor, and Michael Robinson all went for the first time.
Although all five of them could go again this year, new standouts could arise from a young Seattle team that has steadily been getting better since Pete Carroll and John Schneider came to town.
Richard Sherman, CB, Second Year.
The first player I could see making the Pro Bowl is Richard Sherman, previously from Stanford university. If you question this prediction, you probably have not watched Sherman play enough.
From his first year at Stanford, Sherman showed his versatility on the football field. He played two years as a a receiver before changing to cornerback due to lack of depth at the position. But after the switch he translated his catching abilities, accumulating five interceptions after the switch.
Though he only started and played decent minutes in around ten games this year, Sherman proved he could produce at a solid level. He caused turnovers in half of his games and rarely gave up any big plays.
Sherman would only be the latest of the Seattle secondary that sent three defensive backs to the Pro Bowl last year.
Matt Flynn, QB, Fifth Year
Probably the most talked about player for the Seahawks this offseason, Flynn comes to Seattle with only two career starts, but how eye-opening those starts were.
His first game was on December 19, 2010, where Flynn made his first NFL start against the New England Patriots, after Aaron Rodgers was not cleared to start due to a concussion. Flynn threw three touchdown passes and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. The game went down to the final play when Flynn lost it when he was sacked. The Packers lost the game 31-27, but Flynn completed 23 of 37 passes for 254 yards in the loss.
His second game, however, was the game that drew attention to him this offseason. After the Packers had already clinched the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and rested most of their starters, Matt Flynn started the final game of the season against the Detroit Lions. He threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns in the 45-41 victory, both of which set all-time Green Bay Packers records.
This year he will probably start more games, but will try to continue the production that made him such a commodity. He will have an offensive line that looks to be finally healthy, and receivers that showed bright spots even with their own injury dilemmas.
He also will get to face less players in coverage, as most defenses that they play will stack the box to stop Lynch.
All in all, if Flynn can take advantage of the opportunities presented to him, he could end up having a season that puts him in the Pro Bowl, maybe having him back up Aaron Rodgers again for old times sake.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Second Year
The second Stanford Cardinal on this list, Baldwin showed glimpses of the fantastic receiver that he could be. After not being drafted in last year’s draft, Baldwin quickly became the leader of the Seattle receivers, after injuries to several of the other Seahawk wideouts.
His amazing season was highlighted by two games, which both resulted in wins against the division rival Rams and the Superbowl Champion Giants.
In Week 14, when the Seahawks played the Rams, Baldwin had seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. But his Week 5 performance at the New Meadowlands was by far his best showing of the year, even with his starting quarterback, Tavaris Jackson, leaving the game with a pectoral injury. He had a season-high in catches (eight) and yards (136) and brought in a long touchdown.
Baldwin will look to build off of those games this year and he will have some help with the addition of the aforementioned new quarterback, Matt Flynn. This will be a new duo to watch this year as each will look to lead this team to victory while still achieving the Pro Bowl honors.