Many people try to predict which players will break out before upcoming NFL seasons. However not enough people talk about who will earn their first Pro Bowl nod before the season starts. A large amount of the talented players in the league have not been voted to their first Pro Bowl yet. Last season 21 players made their first Pro Bowl appearance. That was 23.9% of both Pro Bowl rosters. Here are the quarterbacks who could make their first Pro Bowl at the end of the 2021-22 NFL Season.
*Players are ranked by likelihood to make it to the Pro Bowl*
1. Justin Herbert
It is hard not to pick the reigning offensive rookie of the year to be the quarterback most likely to make his first Pro Bowl this season. Herbert was outstanding last season setting multiple rookie quarterback records. His 31 touchdown passes, 36 total touchdowns, eight 300+ yard passing games, and 396 completions were the most by any rookie quarterback in NFL history. The Chargers made some major upgrades along their offensive line to help Herbert out next season and Hunter Henry was the only vital loss for them on offense. The former Oregon Duck has huge expectations this season and as long as he builds upon his performance from last season he should make his first Pro Bowl.
2. Baker Mayfield
This is a make-or-break season for Baker Mayfield. If he doesn’t show that he is better than the average NFL quarterback the Browns may look for a veteran upgrade over him next offseason. Last season the Cleveland Browns emerged as a legitimate playoff threat under new head coach Kevin Stefanski. Despite throwing a career-low in passing yards, Mayfield had his best season to date throwing just one touchdown short of his career-high and only eight interceptions. Under Stefanski, the Browns have bought into running the ball behind their Pro Bowl-caliber running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. However, the passing attack will be vital for Cleveland to take the next step to become Super Bowl contenders.
The return of Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland’s lineup should help the Browns passing game be more explosive this season, as long as Mayfield doesn’t force-feed Beckham the ball. It wasn’t long ago that many believed that Cleveland had the best group of offensive weapons in the league. If Mayfield can transition from a point guard to a playmaker he could very well make his first Pro Bowl this season.
3. Joe Burrow
In the 10 games he played last year, Joe Burrow showed why he was worthy of the first overall pick. He led the league in pass attempts per game before tearing his ACL. He became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with five straight 300+ yard passing games. The only other quarterbacks to do so are Daniel Jones, Kyler Murray and Andrew Luck (has the record with six). He also became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history to have 400+ passing yards, three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in a single game.
When Burrow was out there he looked like the player Cincinnati has desperately needed to get them back to relevancy. Cincinnati still has a lot they need to work on but a Pro Bowl-caliber season would reassert the Bengals into the middle of the pack rather than the bottom of the league. It is likely that he starts off slow since he is still not comfortable taking hits only nine months since his ACL tear. But if Burrow finishes strong down the stretch and players better than he did last year he could very well sneak into the Pro Bowl. Burrow has one of the highest ceilings of any quarterback in the league. This offseason his ceiling got that much higher after the Bengals added his former teammate Ja’Marr Chase in the first round.
4. Trevor Lawerence
Trevor Lawerence has been called by many the best quarterback prospect to come out of the draft since Andrew Luck was drafted in 2012. But it feels like an uphill battle for him to make the Pro Bowl this season. In preseason play the Jaguars have not looked terrific. Also, reports have come out that the players are not sold on Urban Meyer as an NFL head coach. On top of that Lawerence has a below-average offensive line, lacks a true number one receiver and lost former college teammate and fellow Jaguars first-round pick Travis Etienne to a foot injury in the team’s second preseason game.
However, it is not impossible for Lawerence to make a Pro Bowl. There is a chance that his talent can prevail in the situation he has around him. If Luck was able to overcome a difficult situation in Indianapolis when he came out, Lawerence has a chance to do the same in Jacksonville. The AFC South is not the strongest division especially on the defensive side of the ball so Lawerence has the opportunity to display the skills that made him an elite prospect at Clemson. His popularity should help Lawerence get voted to a Pro Bowl as well. Similar to Zion Williamson in the NBA, Lawerence could get voted to the Pro Bowl a year before he seems ready solely based on flashes of great play and his potential.
5. Tua Tagovailoa
Last season was either a success or failure for Tua Tagovailoa depending on how you look at it. When Tagaovailoa was on the field he was an efficient game manager. Tagovailoa completed 64.1% of his passes and had an 11-5 touchdown to interception ratio. But he lacked the explosiveness teams have come to expect out of high draft pick rookie quarterbacks in recent years. He averaged 200.6 passing yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game.
Also at multiple times last year, the Dolphins benched Tagovailoa mid-game to bring in “their closer” Ryan Fitzpatrick who had the gunslinger mentality they needed to close out a couple of games. It seems last year Miami was willing to stunt Tagovailoa’s growth and confidence by replacing him with Fitzpatrick in order to potentially make the playoffs. It also doesn’t help that the Dolphins have been connected to disgruntled Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson all off-season. Miami has even been linked to Watson as recently as this week according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports.
Despite all of that Miami will likely have Tagovailoa start all 17 regular-season games for them. This year he is in a better situation to succeed since Miami added deep threats Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle to their receiver core. Those additions should help Tagovailoa stretch out the field which was something he struggled to do last year. If he takes a jump in year two where he utilizes his new deep threats and maintains his efficiency he could turn his doubters into supporters and make his first Pro Bowl.
6. Justin Fields
The most talked about player of the 2020 NFL Preseason is new Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields. This is not surprising considering all the fantastic reports that have come out about him at camp. Fans in Chicago are very excited about their new quarterback. Even though Matt Nagy has refused to consider anyone but Andy Dalton as the team’s starting quarterback, it is almost guaranteed that Fields sees action this year. His debut may be the most anticipated mid-season rookie quarterback debut since Lamar Jackson in 2018.
Fields’ mobility will make him extremely exciting to watch. He was a great passer at Ohio State as well. If he lives up to expectations Fields could assert himself into the offensive rookie of the year conversation which is expected to be dominated by Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawerence and Steelers running back Najee Harris. It wouldn’t be too shocking if after this season Fields was considered the best rookie of this class based on his production and team situation. If Fields starts anywhere between 12-16 games for the Bears this year and plays well he could find himself at the Pro Bowl at the end of the year.
7. Trey Lance
There is similar hype around Trey Lance to Justin Fields despite Lance being taken seven spots before Fields. Lance may have landed in the best situation out of all of the rookie quarterbacks. He is joining a team that was in the Super Bowl as recently as the 2019-20 season. He is being given an offense that is one of the best at running the football and three outstanding pass catchers in George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Deebo Samuel. Lance may be the only rookie quarterback to play a playoff game this season.
Even though Lance is considered very raw, he has the tools to be effective on the field soon. So far his progress in camp and the preseason has turned the 49ers quarterback situation into a legitimate quarterback competition. During his time in college, he has shown great accuracy, efficiency, and that he is extremely dynamic with his legs. If Lance struggles as a passer he could rely on his running ability to carry the offense through games. But if Lance shows why he was so highly regarded during the draft process and helps the 49ers return to the playoffs he could become a Pro Bowler in his first season.
8. Sam Darnold
The Carolina Panthers made the bold trade to acquire Sam Darnold from the New York Jets before the 2021 NFL Draft because they didn’t want to chance not getting the rookie quarterback they wanted to build their franchise around. They are hoping that Darnold has the upside and ceiling that many thought he had coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft. This season he will have the best supporting cast he’s had in his career by far. In Carolina Darnold will get his former teammate Robby Anderson, former first-round pick D.J. Moore, former All-Pro Christian McCaffrey, and second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr. to throw to.
On top of the weapons, Darnold will have the opportunity to be coached by one of the best young offensive minds in football Joe Brady. The Panthers offensive coordinator is more famous for calling plays for LSU’s 2019-20 National Championship teams offense that featured Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, and current Carolina Panther Terrace Marshall Jr. If Brady can unlock what made Darnold the consensus top quarterback coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft, Darnold may have a shot of becoming the third quarterback from his draft class to make a Pro Bowl.
9. Jalen Hurts
Last season people were begging for the Philadelphia Eagles to start the rookie quarterback they took in the second round. The Eagles make the most shocking selection of the 2020 NFL Draft when they took Jalen Hurts because they already had a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz who was set to begin his long-term extension with them. A year later Wentz is a Colt and as it stands right now Hurts will likely be the Eagles’ 17 game starter this season. In his four starts at the end of last year Hurts was extremely dynamic.
According to NBC Sports, Hurts became the ninth quarterback in NFL history with 300 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions, and 60 rushing yards in a game. He is also the ninth quarterback in NFL history with four or more touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first two starts. Hurts is the fourth quarterback with five combined rushing and passing TDs and no interceptions in his first two starts. His 169 rushing yards in his first two starts was the second-highest in NFL history by a quarterback. For context, Lamar Jackson had 190. Randall Cunningham is third on that list with 150.
Hurts has the opportunity to emerge as a true star in this league. Along with his development and improving his accuracy the biggest factor for his success this upcoming season is the health of the players around him. When healthy the Eagles have an extremely talented roster, especially on offense. However, the Eagles have been crippled by injuries since the 2018 season. Hurts is expected to have a healthier offensive line than he had last year since Brandon Brooks is returning and the Eagles added Landon Dickerson. Philadelphia also gave Hurts a new weapon in Devonta Smith during the NFL Draft. It is no secret that the Eagles do not have a lot of faith in Hurts, especially after trading for Gardner Minshew. But if Hurts improves as a passer, maintains his efficiency as a runner, and stays the Eagles starter he could find himself at the Pro Bowl at the end of the year.
10. Zach Wilson
When the New York Jets traded away Sam Darnold it confirmed that they would take Zach Wilson with the second overall pick this past year. The former BYU quarterback has all the physical tools to be the next star quarterback. Many compared him to Aaron Rodgers, Kyler Murray, and Patrick Mahomes. However, Wilson has a long way to go before he reaches that class of quarterback considering he has not played in his first regular-season game yet.
Besides the upside, Wilson appears to have the Jets were likely attracted to the fact that Wilson’s playing style is a perfect fit for their offense that is likely going to mirror what Kyle Shanahan does in San Fransisco. Even though Wilson is raw and did not have a lot of experience against premier talent in college he will be the Jets starting quarterback this season. New York appears to be confident in their young quarterback because they did not bring in any veterans to compete with Wilson for the starting job.
Unlike what the Jets did with Sam Darnold, the Jets decided to add offensive talent around Wilson to develop and grow together. After taking promising left tackle Mekhi Becton and wide receiver Denzel Mims in the first two rounds last year, the Jets drafted Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round to line up at left guard. New York also added a lot of offensive weapons for Wilson including Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, second-round pick Elijah Moore, and fourth-round pick Michael Carter. But despite all of this it does appear that Wilson making the Pro Bowl is an uphill battle due to the fact that the Jets won’t likely be very good this year. This year is more about the growth of Wilson as a player, but if he shocks the world reaches his ceiling faster than expected then he may make the Pro Bowl.
11. Daniel Jones
This is a vital year for Daniel Jones. His performance this season will determine the long-term future of the New York Giants franchise. If Jones continues to disappoint not only will the Giants look into other long-term options at quarterback, but they could potentially let go of the general manager who drafted him David Gettleman. Since entering the league Jones has flashed some potential of being a threat with his legs but has also led the league in turnovers with 39 in 27 career games. He has led the league in fumbles over the last two seasons.
But the Giants have done everything in their power to give Jones the supporting cast he needs to succeed. They gave Jones a star-wide receiver in Kenny Golladay who they signed to a four-year $72 million deal. The Giants also drafted wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round this past year. They also added Kyle Rudolph and John Ross to their group of weapons that already included Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram. New York also hopes that Jones gets a healthy Saquon Barkley for the majority of the season. Barkley has struggled to stay healthy since Jones has entered the league. If Jones can limit his turnovers and take advantage of all of the weapons he has been provided he can not only save his job but potentially emerge as a Pro Bowl quarterback.
12. Mac Jones
The New England Patriots have decided to take their quarterback of the future in the first round of this past draft. Bill Belichick decided to draft their former quarterback of his old protege Nick Saban. Jones may not have the athleticism that the other four first-round quarterbacks from this past year possess, but he is an extremely accurate and smart quarterback. Last season Jones set an FBS record when he completed 77.4% of his passes. Jones is currently in a quarterback competition with Cam Newton where a starter has not been named yet. After Cam Newton’s recent Covid 19 rule break, many believe that Jones has the opportunity to take the starting job from the veteran.
New England is primarily run first on offense and that likely won’t change this season. But the Patriots did add multiple pass-catchers to their very depleted group. The Patriots made Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry two of the highest-paid tight ends in NFL history. They also signed veteran receiver Nelson Agholor to a large contract. New England added former 49ers wide receiver Kendrick Bourne to their offense as well.
Many believed that Jones was the most pro-ready quarterback coming out of the last draft. If Mac Jones can overtake Cam Newton as the Patriots starter early in the year and has great success in this rebuilt offense he could shock the world and possibly make a Pro Bowl as early as his first year in the league.