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July 13, 2023

The three Eagles most likely to make their first Pro Bowl team in 2023

Which Eagles could make their first Pro Bowl team in 2023?

On the heels of Major League Baseball's All-Star Week festivities, I've gotten to thinking about similar accolades in other sports. Last season, eight Eagles made the Pro Bowl (or "Pro Bowl Games," whatever) team during a dominant 14-3 campaign. Veterans Jason Kelce, Darius Slay, Lane Johnson and A.J. Brown were joined by first-timers Jalen Hurts, Miles Sanders, Landon Dickerson and Haason Reddick. 

That left me wondering... which Eagles could be selected to their first Pro Bowl squad during the 2023 season? I had to initially take out, of course, any guy who's made it previously. That eliminates Kelce, Slay, Johnson, Brown, Hurts, Dickerson, Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox, Jake Elliott, Rick Lovato and James Bradberry. 

That left me with three top candidates. All three have positive buzz around the league, are big enough of fan favorites to have a shot of being voted in outright, are on the upswing into their true career prime and, obviously, are damn good at football. 

I'll rank them and share my takes...

3. Jordan Mailata, LT

Right tackle Lane Johnson has been the best offensive lineman in football for some time now, but didn't receive his first Pro Bowl nod until 2017, his fifth year as a starter. Some of that was due to outdated discourse about whether a right tackle could be as valuable as a left tackle, but my point is that it took a bit of time for Johnson to catch on as an elite player in the consciousness of the whole league. 

Mailata is entering his third year as a full-time starter with the Birds and, after never playing American football in his life until 2018, has exponentially improved from a complete novice to the anchor of Jalen Hurts' blindside. The left tackle continuing that upward trend is reasonable going into 2023. 

A larger issue that could work against Mailata, however, is that the Eagles' offensive line is too stacked overall. They had three Pro Bowlers in 2022 with Johnson, Kelce and Dickerson. Could they really send four? The Eagles have had three Pro Bowl offensive lineman in a season multiple times: 2022, 2019 (Kelce, Johnson and Brandon Brooks), 2014 (Kelce, Jason Peters and Evan Mathis) and 2002 (Tra Thomas, Jermane Mayberry and Jon Runyan). The hallmark of the Eagles, as has been the case for the last decade really, is their offensive line play, the type of domination that had the Birds in the Super Bowl last year. If it's another season where the Eagles are 12-1 late in the year and the offense is humming at the 2022 level or even higher, perhaps they actually get four in there. 

2. DeVonta Smith, WR

Smith is the best of the three players on this list, but what hurts him is that he plays the most talented position in the NFL. Not only is he competing with A.J. Brown for both targets on the field and the Pro Bowl team, but there's also Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Terry McLaurin, D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, Mike Evans, etc. Maybe both Smith and Brown can find themselves on the team, it's happened in the past to have two wideouts from the same team selected, but even the most wildly optimistic of Eagles fans can't just throw half of the 22 starters on the Pro Bowl squad and wipe their hands clean. 

Brown had the best Eagles wide receiver season in 2022 since Terrell Owens in 2004, but Smith having a 2023 campaign that rivals both of them is certainly on the table. 

1. Dallas Goedert, TE

The only thing holding back Goedert from making a Pro Bowl team in the past is health (which can't be overlooked!). When healthy and out there, Goedert is the second- or third-best tight end in the NFL, dominating as a blocker in the run game while being one of the most efficient route-runners in the sport, receiver, TE or otherwise.

My NFL tight end tiers:

Tier 1: Travis Kelce

Tier 2: George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews

Tier 3: Kyle Pitts, T.J. Hockenson 

Tier 4: Darren Waller, Pat Freiermuth

Goedert was likely on his way to receiving Pro Bowl honors in 2022, but, you guessed it, an injury situation derailed his candidacy. After Zach Ertz's 2021 midseason trade, it was his first season as the Birds' unquestioned TE1. In just 12 games, Goedert still hauled in 55 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns. The competition for Goedert landing on the Pro Bowl team isn't as stiff as it is for Smith. Just stay on the field and I imagine it'll happen! 

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