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NFL Pro Bowl: Five (yes, five) Browns make the 2023 team

Some were expected whereas others who made it were like “finally”

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NFL: Pro Bowl-AFC Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The voting ended, the tally was counted, and when all the smoke cleared, five Cleveland Browns were voted to this year’s Pro Bowl honors. In addition, six players were selected as alternates.

The five voted as starters include LG Joel Bitonio, DE Myles Garrett, CB Denzel Ward, WR Amari Cooper, and TE David Njoku.

The six alternates are K Dustin Hopkins, S Grant Delpit, C Ethan Pocic, LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, RG Wyatt Teller, and P Corey Bojorquez.

The selection of Garrett and Bitonio was no surprise. This is Bitonio’s sixth consecutive Pro Bowl nod since being drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft out of Nevada. This distinction places him tied for fourth most in Browns history behind OT Joe Thomas, RB Jim Brown, and OT Lou Groza, and OG Gene Hickerson. Besides Thomas, the only other offensive lineman who has gone to six straight Pro Bowls was Hickerson (1966-1971).

Cleveland Browns v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Garrett is on what is known as the “All-World Generational Team” where he is loaned out to mortal teams. The 2023 version is his fifth Pro Bowl. He was taken first overall in the 2017 NFL draft after a sterling career at Texas A&M and each season is one of the standards of the defensive end position. This year he has 42 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 37 pressures, 14 sacks, 16 knockdowns, six hurries, 30 QB hits, four forced fumbles with one fumble recovery, and only three missed tackles. Every offensive coordinator in the league has a plan of how to contain Garrett.

Ward headlines a superior Browns defensive backfield. This marks his third Pro Bowl since being taken with the fourth overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft after the franchise selected QB Baker Mayfield. Ward has 34 total tackles, one tackle for loss, 11 pass defenses, one forced fumble, and two interceptions. Almost every week, Cleveland is Number 1 against the pass and is currently ranked #2 by one yard. Ward is one of those reasons.

Cooper has had a very solid year. Now in his second year in Cleveland, he has 1,250 yards on 72 receptions with 128 targets in 15 games. He also has 50 first-downs converted receptions and a 17.4 yards per reception average with five TD catches. His yards-after-contact (YAC) is an amazing 271 yards. In Week 16 he had 265 yards with two touchdowns and was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. This is his fifth career Pro Bowl, but first with the Browns.

This is Njoku’s first Pro Bowl, and honestly, his best productive season. He was taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft for his receiving skills, but his scouting report indicated that he would need to learn to block at the next level. After several years of being a sub-par blocker, he was finally tutored and now is the best blocking tight end on the roster. His 882 receiving yards are a career best as are his six touchdowns. His best attribute is his 599 YAC yards plus his ability to find open seams.

Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

As far as the alternates, Hopkins was leading almost every kicking category until he injured his hamstring in the 36-22 win over the Houston Texans. Delpit is basically in the same situation having an exceptional season before he became injured in the win over Jacksonville. At the time, Delpit was the team’s leading tackler. Without the groin injury, he most likely would have been named a starter.

JOK has had an improved year and is probably the most consistent linebacker. His highlights include 101 tackles with 20 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Bojorquez has a very strong leg and can rip some long balls. The knock on him is his hang time needs to improve so that he doesn’t out-kick his coverage team. His average is 49.5 while the league leader is at 53.1.

Teller has been named the starter in two Pro Bowls and this year is Pocic’s first mention.

The 2024 Pro Bowl Games will be a multi-day AFC versus NFC competition culminating on Sunday, February 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Fans can visit ProBowl.com/tickets to buy tickets, which start as low as $45, for Sunday’s event, which will also be televised from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern) on ESPN, ABC, Disney XD, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes.