INDIANAPOLIS — It’s a fun exercise, coming up with hypothetical lists such as your own Pro Bowl rosters. This week, Pro Football Focus did just that, and if it had its way then a few Indianapolis Colts players would be All-Stars.
The actual Pro Bowl selections will be announced tonight at 8 p.m. ET, so stay tuned to Colts.com as well as all the Colts' social media channels for all the latest on that.
But back to the Pro Football Focus list.
Making the cut on the AFC side are Andrew Luck with the quarterbacks, T.Y. Hilton with the wide receivers and Darius Leonard with the outside linebackers.
Here's what they wrote about Luck:
“For the first time in a long time, the PFF Pro Bowl roster will be without Tom Brady. Andrew Luck narrowly gets the nod in what’s been a career-reviving season in Indy. Luck has been under pressure on only 30.2 percent of his snaps this season compared to 44.4 percent his last healthy year in 2016.”
As PFF mentioned, Luck’s career got back on track this year after missing all of the 2017 season recovering from right shoulder surgery. Behind outstanding offensive line play, Luck (90.8 grade) is currently second in the NFL in passing touchdowns (34), seventh in ESPN QBR (68.8) and is tied for seventh in passing yards (3,951).
After starting the season 1-5, Luck and the Colts have clawed their way back, currently sitting at 8-6 and in the thick of the AFC playoff race. Also being named to the AFC quarterback list is Patrick Mahomes (92.4) of the Kansas City Chiefs and Philip Rivers (91.1) of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Despite missing about two and a half games with chest and hamstring injuries, Hilton (86.3) is making a huge impact with the chemistry between him and Luck back in play. Since Week 11, Hilton is leading the NFL in receiving yards (641). He also reached his fifth-career 1,000-yard season after posting 85 yards on Sunday in a win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Hilton has been to the last four real-life Pro Bowls, so we may see it again for a fifth consecutive year. DeAndre Hopkins (90.7) of the Houston Texans, Keenan Allen (90.4) of the Chargers and Tyreek Hill (90.1) of the Chiefs also made PFF’s list.
At outside linebacker (not truly his position, but roll with it here), here's what PFF had to write about Leonard:
“Dee Ford’s up-and-down performance is one of the most fascinating storylines of this season. His career-high grade prior to this season was 63.5. He has been, for lack of a better word, awful most of his career. Darius Leonard, on the other hand, has been fantastic his entire career. His 49 stops are the second-most in the NFL.”
Leonard (83.8) is in a somewhat unique group here, as he is lumped in with the entire outside linebacker group, which mixes together both off-ball linebackers and edge rushers. It's something the NFL could maybe look into differentiating in the future — breaking linebackers into off-ball and edge defender categories. Unless you live under a rock, you probably didn't know that Leonard is not only arguably the top rookie off-ball linebacker in the NFL, but also already one of the league's best linebackers in general.
To go with his league-leading 146 tackles, Leonard also leads all NFL off-ball linebackers in sacks (seven) and forced fumbles (four). He also has 12 tackles for loss, one interception, three fumbles recovered (including one from a blocked kick) and seven pass breakups. Dee Ford (89.7) of the Chiefs and Von Miller (88.6) of the Denver Broncos also made PFF's list.
Leonard, Luck, tight end Eric Ebron, offensive guard Quenton Nelson and kicker Adam Vinatieri all finished among the top three at their position in the fan vote among AFC players.
Pro Bowl rosters will be announced on at 8 p.m. ET tonight on NFL Network’s “Pro Bowl Special.” The 2018-19 Pro Bowl kicks off at 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.