INDIANAPOLIS — While there won't be an actual Pro Bowl game played for the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, three Indianapolis Colts stars learned Monday night that they were voted among the best players in the NFL at their respective positions nonetheless.
Colts center Ryan Kelly, linebacker Darius Leonard and guard Quenton Nelson were officially selected to the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl.
For Kelly and Leonard, it's their second Pro Bowl selections, while, for Nelson, it's his third-career Pro Bowl nod. All three played in the 2020 Pro Bowl together last year, alongside tight end Jack Doyle.
This marks the first time Indianapolis has had two offensive linemen represented in consecutive Pro Bowls since 2005-06 (tackle Tarik Glenn and center Jeff Saturday).
» Kelly, 27, has continued to establish himself as one of the best centers in the game in 2020.
Last year, Kelly was voted to his first-career Pro Bowl after being the sixth-highest graded center in the league (73.0); his 74.6 run-blocking grade was fourth at the position, and he was only one of seven full-time centers to allow one or fewer sacks on the year.
This season, Kelly, at 69.3, is the eighth-highest graded center in the league; his 65.2 pass-blocking grade ranks ninth at his position, while his 67.9 run-blocking grade ranks 13th.
According to PFF, through the first 15 weeks of the season, Kelly has allowed just two sacks and 11 total quarterback pressures, tied for the fifth-fewest among all NFL centers. Kelly's one penalty to this point of the season is tied for the fewest among all players at his position.
Kelly, the Colts' first-round (18th-overall) selection in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Alabama, has played in 64 total games, all starts, in Indy.
» Leonard, 25, continues his campaign as one of the best off-ball linebackers — and complete defensive playmakers — in the NFL.
Despite missing two games this season, Leonard still has 109 total tackles (six for a loss) with two sacks, two quarterback hits, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He's currently one of four players in the NFL with at least 109 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles (joining Tyrell Adams, Blake Martinez and Jordan Poyer).
Leonard exploded onto the scene after being selected in the second round by the Colts in the 2018 NFL Draft. That year, he was named the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading the league in tackles while adding 12.0 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, eight passes defensed, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He set the franchise record for tackles in a single season and his tackle total ranked third in league history for a rookie.
Leonard, who was named First-Team All-Pro that year, was one of only two NFL players to ever register 160 or more total tackles and 7.0 or more sacks in a single season.
Leonard missed three games last season but still was named Second-Team All-Pro and selected to his first-career Pro Bowl. In 13 games, he had 121 tackles (seven for a loss) with five sacks, six quarterback hits, five interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), seven passes defensed, two forced fumbles.
According to Stats Pass, Leonard in his first three seasons has averaged more tackles per game than any other player in NFL history (9.83).
Since entering the NFL in 2018, Leonard ranks in the top 10 among linebackers in total tackles (393, fourth), solo tackles (256, tied-second), passes defensed (20, tied-seventh), interceptions (seven, tied-first) and forced fumbles (eight, tied-fourth). Leonard has reached 100 total tackles in each of his first three seasons in the NFL; since 2000, he is just the fourth player in franchise history to accomplish that feat and the only one to do so in their first three seasons in the league.
» Nelson, 24, continues to be one of the most dominating offensive linemen in recent NFL memory.
Selected sixth overall by the Colts in the 2018 NFL Draft, Nelson has twice been voted First-Team All-Pro and now has been named to his third Pro Bowl in as many years.
Nelson last year became just the seventh player since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger to be named First-Team All-Pro in their first two seasons, and was the first since the Bears' Devin Hester in 2006-07. He was also just the fourth NFL offensive lineman to earn First-Team All-Pro honors in his first two seasons, and is the first since Dick Huffman of the Los Angeles Rams in 1947-48.
In 14 games this season, Nelson is PFF's second highest-graded guard (80.0); his pass-blocking grade of 81.3 is also second among all guards, while his run-blocking grade of 77.3 is fourth. According to PFF, Nelson has allowed just one sack and 12 total quarterback pressures on the year.
Since 2018, Nelson has PFF's fifth-best overall grade among all offensive linemen (88.8); his overall run-blocking grade of 87.0 also ranks fifth, and second among all guards.
Nelson becomes just the third Colt in team history to earn Pro Bowl honors in his first three seasons, joining Andrew Luck and Alan Ameche. He also becomes the first offensive lineman in the NFL to do it in his first three seasons since Zack Martin and is the first Colts player to be selected to three consecutive Pro Bowls since T.Y. Hilton (four consecutive from 2014-17).
While there won't be an actual Pro Bowl game in 2021, the league has created a virtual format for this season's all-star festivities.
EA SPORTS and the NFL have created a week-long series of matchups featuring celebrities, NFL Legends, current players and streamers playing as the official Pro Bowl rosters in Madden NFL 21.
These matchups will "culminate in an action-packed virtual Pro Bowl game played with 2021 Pro Bowl players facing off within Madden NFL 21," according to the NFL, and will be available for fans to watch across a variety of platforms.
Additionally, for players of Madden NFL 21, EA SPORTS will be dropping new Pro Bowl content in-game so that players worldwide can play out the AFC vs. NFC matchup themselves.
The 2022 NFL Pro Bowl, meanwhile, is scheduled to take place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.