GREEN BAY – So who's next?
As the Packers ended up with five Pro Bowl selections in 2019 (after injury replacements were announced), two of them got to chalk the Pro Bowl off their bucket lists – defensive lineman Kenny Clark and outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith.
Both defenders were first-timers at the league's annual all-star event, and several teammates could be on the verge of getting their first Pro Bowl honor in 2020.
Here's a top 10 list of candidates, placed in order of how long they've been waiting for the potential recognition.
1. Mason Crosby: He's a pending free agent, and kicker might be the toughest position to make the Pro Bowl because so few are chosen, but if the Packers re-sign Crosby he's one to watch. He'll be coming off arguably the best season of his career, as he made 22-of-24 field goals, tying the single-season franchise record for percentage, and missed just one extra point. He was named a first alternate for the Pro Bowl in 2019 for the second time in his career (also 2011).
2. Bryan Bulaga: Another pending free agent who may or may not be back, Bulaga inexplicably didn't make any alternate lists in 2019 despite putting together maybe his best season in Year 10. He would have started all 18 games if not for an illness costing him the first playoff contest. It sounds silly in a way, but maybe the next contract he signs will boost his profile to help him get to a Pro Bowl.
3. Corey Linsley: A Pro Bowl alternate each of the last two years, Linsley is as steady as they come at center. He started every game in 2019 for the fourth time in his six-year career. His consecutive-snap streak of more than 2,700-plus plays ended this past season, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he starts another long streak.
4. Preston Smith: Another Pro Bowl alternate in 2019, Smith was the leading vote-getter at his position in the fan vote, which closed when he was leading the team in sacks. He was eventually surpassed by teammate Za'Darius Smith, but Preston's 12-sack season (plus two in the playoffs) marked a career best.
5. Blake Martinez: The third on this list who's a pending free agent and may or may not be back, Martinez became the first Packers defender to post 200-plus tackles in one season (based on the coaches' film review). He's had eight sacks over the last two seasons, and his Pro Bowl aspirations could hinge on this: Was his key interception in Week 17 at Detroit, his first pick since 2017, a sign of things to come?
6. Kevin King: Putting two injury-plagued seasons behind him, King led the Packers in 2019 with five interceptions and had his hands on two or three more. If his pick total rises to seven or eight in 2020, that'll garner more attention.
7. Aaron Jones: What more will he have to do? He scored 19 touchdowns in the regular season (16 rushing, three receiving), tying for the top total in the league with Christian McCaffrey, added four more TDs in the playoffs, and had his first 1,000-yard rushing season. He was a Pro Bowl alternate, but an initial selection seems just around the corner.
8. Jaire Alexander: A potential rising star who was named a Pro Bowl alternate in just his second season, Alexander often drew the toughest opposing assignment and led the team with 23 pass breakups. He had two interceptions and a strip/recovery all on his own for three turnover plays. More splash moments like that and it's easy to see a Pro Bowl in his future.
9. Darnell Savage: Named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team, Savage was one of four Green Bay defenders tied for second on the team behind King with two interceptions. But the All-Rookie recognition is no guarantee a Pro Bowl selection is coming next. Savage's starting mate at safety, Adrian Amos, was named All-Rookie with the Bears in 2015 but still doesn't have a Pro Bowl, and Alexander was All-Rookie last year as well.
10. Elgton Jenkins: Another All-Rookie selection in 2019, Jenkins like Savage has position mates that are proof how long it can take for a Pro Bowl honor to come along. Bulaga was All-Rookie in 2010, as was Linsley in 2014, but both are still waiting. Still, Jenkins put a lot on film that shows his future is bright.