8 Colts who can earn their first Pro Bowl selection in 2021

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The Indianapolis Colts boast a roster that is strong with depth on both sides of the ball and while a bit of their projected outcome is unknown due to the quarterback position, there are some players set to take a big leap forward.

Though the Pro Bowl has become watered down as the years have passed by, there is still something to be said about getting a nod to the NFL’s All-Star game. Some may argue it’s more of a popularity contest, which is valid, but players still seek that validation of recognition.

In 2020, the Colts sent left guard Quenton Nelson, center Ryan Kelly and linebacker Darius Leonard to the Pro Bowl. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner was a massive snub but wound up being named an All-Pro, which carries more weight.

For 2021, the Colts have a number of players who have never been to the Pro Bowl. So in discounting those who have already been there in their careers, here are eight Colts who could earn their first Pro Bowl selection in 2021:

RT Braden Smith

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

Of all the players on this list, Smith has some of the best chances to earn a nod in 2021. Smith has been one of the best right tackles in the NFL in recent seasons and didn't allow a sack throughout the entire 2020 campaign. Though he's still considered underrated at the position, his next contract won't reflect that. If he puts together another impressive season, Smith could represent the Colts at the Pro Bowl following the 2021 season.

RB Jonathan Taylor

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Given the names in the AFC currently on the ballot at the running back position, it may be tough for Taylor to earn that nod in 2021. However, he's an emerging star in the league after an extremely strong rookie campaign. If he puts together a full season of efficient work, he could easily find himself on the ballot. With competition like Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, Najee Harris and Austin Ekeler, Taylor will have to continue his ascension in order to make it.

DT Grover Stewart

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The 27-year-old Stewart is finally getting some recognition for his game. Just now entering the prime of his career for a one-technique, the product of Division-II Albany State earned a nice contract extension during the 2020 season. Now, as he becomes of the premier run-stoppers in the NFL, Stewart has a chance to truly make a case as a Pro Bowler in 2021.

DE Kwity Paye

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It's really hard for rookies to become Pro Bowlers in their first seasons. Because so much of it is a popularity contest, they have to take the league by storm from the jump. Paye will have a chance to do so with an opportunity to be a starter in Week 1. If his development takes place faster than we expect and he holds a three-down role, Paye could be in the conversation for a nod. Odds might not favor it, but the kid is talented enough to warrant consideration.

LB Bobby Okereke

AP Photo/AJ Mast

Given that this will be Okereke's first year as a full-time starter and the Pro Bowl committee still has issues with position designations for edge rushers and off-ball linebackers, this is less likely. The Stanford product has the mold to be a Pro Bowler, though. He's rangy, makes plays against the run and is likely the best linebacker in coverage on the roster. It's unlikely he makes it but with high production and a few splash plays in prime time, it's not impossible. It probably doesn't help his case that Darius Leonard is there.

CB Kenny Moore II

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Is this the year that Moore finally gets some love? As arguably the league's best slot cornerback, a position becoming increasingly important, Moore has a chance to put it all together in 2021. There might be some bigger names who get considered ahead of Moore despite less production, but the 25-year-old could certainly earn his first nod in 2021.

S Julian Blackmon

AP Photo/Zach Bolinger

There was some thought that maybe Blackmon would get some consideration after he came out hot to start his rookie season in 2020. However, a poor second half kept that from happening. Now in Year 2, Blackmon will have plenty of chances to improve upon his second half while proving to be an emerging star at safety.

ST George Odum

AP Photo/AJ Mast

Odum deserves a spot on this list after proving to be arguably the best special-teamer in the league during the 2020 season. But the Pro Bowl is typically a year late when it comes to special teamers. It will be tough to beat out the nine-time Pro Bowler in Matthew Slater but if Odum again leads the league in special-teams stops, it might be hard to keep the latter out.

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