Marc Sessler has plucked one prime candidate from each team to earn a first Pro Bowl nod in 2020. Below are his NFC picks.
ARIZONA CARDINALS: Kyler Murray, QB, second NFL season: We present a spicy entry out of the gate. Murray arrived as advertised inside Kliff Kingsbury's offense, unspooling eye-popping throws and using his legs to jitterbug the enemy. The Offensive Rookie of the Year produced more fantasy points than any other first-year signal-caller in 2019 and should only grow more dangerous with elite target DeAndre Hopkins tossed into the mix. Murray has room to grow, but it's fair to expect a leap from Arizona's veterans, too, after orchestrating Kingsbury's attack on the fly last season. Cutting down on self-inflicted sacks and picks should come naturally for Murray, while the physical gifts take over. "I think he's even a better pure passer than people have anticipated," Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told NBC Sports this spring. "But the thing that's gonna separate him is the ability to process, to see things, to make good decisions, get the ball out of his hands, don't take so many sacks. I think those are the areas that you're going to see him grow in 2020."
ATLANTA FALCONS: Hayden Hurst, TE, third NFL season: Consider this a projection for Hurst, who fills an Austin Hooper-shaped void for the Falcons. Hooper nabbed a pair of Pro Bowl nods after snatching 146 passes from Matt Ryan over the past two seasons. Hurst, meanwhile, squeezed out just 43 grabs over his first two campaigns in Baltimore while playing second-fiddle to Mark Andrews. Ryan sees the potential, though, calling Hurst one of the "fastest and most athletic tight ends I've ever played with." Tight ends have thrived in Atlanta, providing evidence that Hurst is ready to make good on the first-round pedigree that saw him picked by the Ravens ahead of planetary wonder Lamar Jackson in 2018.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: Brian Burns, edge rusher, second NFL season: Burns came out firing as a rookie, tallying at least a half sack in five straight games beginning in Week 2. Stuck in a ridiculously grim Panthers defense, the first-rounder underwent wrist surgery during the club's Week 7 bye, yet recovered to notch another three QB takedowns before the end of the season. The tangled wrist coupled with the presence of veteran players like Bruce Irvin limited his snaps, but the healthy version of Burns piled up 16 pressures in his first four NFL games. In a massively revamped defense stripped of older players that ate into his opportunities, Burns will be counted on from wire to wire in Year 2.
CHICAGO BEARS: Anthony Miller, WR, third NFL season: Allen Robinson roams as Chicago's top wideout, but Miller offers breakout potential after surging down the stretch in 2019. He piled up 445 of his 656 yards after Week 9, highlighted by a 9/118/1 line against the Packers and 140 yards off nine grabs in a Thanksgiving win over the Lions. Taylor Gabriel's exit means more snaps while the addition of Nick Foles -- if he stays upright -- could flip the switch for one of the game's more impossible-to-watch passing attacks of 2019.
DALLAS COWBOYS: La'el Collins, OT, sixth NFL season: Paired in a tackle duo with All-Pro Tyron Smith, Collins shifted from good to great last season to become the NFL's fifth-highest graded tackle, per Pro Football Focus. Nothing short of dominant in the run game, Collins has something else going for him: Pro Bowl voters see the Cowboys featured endlessly in prime-time tilts, Thanksgiving jaunts and glistening 4 p.m. ET time slots on FOX. Prepare for an endless parade of verbal gratification from Cris Collinsworth, Troy Aikman and Tony Romo on the national stage. If Collins repeats his 2019 performance, though, the praise will be justified.
DETROIT LIONS: Frank Ragnow, C, third NFL season: These lists hit their stride when the typist shifts from pitching a right tackle to a thick-necked, meaty center. Readers can't get enough. But in all seriousness, Ragnow feels like the kind of player who propels Lions coach Matt Patricia out of bed in the morning. The 2018 first-rounder evolved into PFF's sixth-ranked center last season while grading out as the position's second-best run blocker. With rookie D'Andre Swift in the fold beside Kerryon Johnson, I'm convinced Patricia will run the ball approximately 2,077 times in 2020. Ragnow will play the role of people's hero as Detroit plods its way to an 8-8 finish.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: Darnell Savage, S, second NFL season: Savage made life tough for pass catchers last season, allowing a reception every 33.3 snaps in coverage, best among all Packers. The rookie picked off a pair of passes, dropped two would-be interceptions and triggered a team-high two forced fumbles. Allowing just 188 yards in coverage all year, Savage played a key role for a Green Bay defense that dropped hammers until the Niners blew it into 14,000 pieces in the NFC title game. The missed tackles should shrink for Savage in 2020, while the big plays continue to bloom.
LOS ANGELES RAMS: Tyler Higbee, TE, fifth NFL season: Brandin Cooks is out the door and the days of Todd Gurley are a wrap in Los Angeles. Even before their departures, we saw brainy coach Sean McVay shift the offense in 2019 to highlight his tight ends. Flinging three quiet campaigns into the rearview mirror, Higbee latched onto 69 grabs for 734 yards and three scores. He finished second among tight ends in yards per route run (3.53) and explosive plays of 15+ yards (13) when facing zone coverages, according to PFF. Evidence suggests Mr. McVay harbors even larger plans for his tight ends inside a transitioning attack.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Anthony Harris, S, sixth NFL season: Pro Bowl voters were seemingly heavy into the spiked punch when they bypassed Harris a year ago. His six picks tied for the NFL lead, and he allowed zero touchdowns over 14 starts. These figures look even more impressive when you consider the disastrous handiwork of Minnesota's cornerbacks in 2019. The Vikings have All-Pro Harrison Smith at the position, too, but they thought enough of Harris to drop the franchise tag on their undrafted gem this offseason. Repeat last year's positive antics, and the greenbacks will flow.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, fourth NFL season: "Hello. My name is Ryan Ramczyk. I play right tackle for the Saints. I was named the best run-blocking lineman in the NFL last season by Pro Football Focus. The site handed me the same award in 2018, but I have yet to be invited to the Pro Bowl. This makes me frown. I suppose the human beings who decide these things didn't realize that PFF also graded me as the top tackle on our planet in 2019. I will now run from my emotions by eating an entire apple pie by myself."
NEW YORK GIANTS: Kevin Zeitler, OG, ninth NFL season: Moving to the Meadowlands as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. swap, Zeitler's presence made an immediate impact in New York, while his absence brought painful results in Cleveland. PFF's seventh-highest graded guard, Zeitler has grown into a consistently valuable run blocker who shows no sign of losing moxie in his age-30 season.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: Dallas Goedert, TE, third NFL season: The presence of brilliant tight end Zach Ertz makes this a tricky proposition. Still, Goedert benefited from a 2019 Eagles offense that used the highest percentage (50.6) of plays in 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two wide receivers) since the 2011 Patriots. In return, Goedert produced the roster's second-most catches (58), receiving yards (607) and touchdowns (5). Ertz was first across the board, preventing Goedert from nabbing a clear-cut featured role. It's an enviable problem for the Eagles, who made every effort to keep both assets in the lineup and should follow suit come September. This is a vote for Goedert's undiscovered ceiling.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: K'Waun Williams, CB, sixth NFL season: I initially had this blurb stuffed with pretty words about Raheem Mostert. Then the runner's agent announced they were requesting a trade away from the Kyle Shanahan scheme that makes undrafted backs appear as clones of John Riggins. Mostert is walking away from a monster campaign if his wish is granted, so let's shine our light elsewhere. Deebo Samuel is a Pro Bowl candidate, but the wideout is currently on the mend from a Jones fracture in his foot. So I'm dialing up Williams, who emerged as PFF's seventh-highest graded corner inside San Francisco's Super Bowl defense. Allowing but one touchdown on 73 targets, Williams rightfully found a home on colleague Cynthia Frelund's list of the NFL's most underappreciated players this spring. His teammates know the outside world is sluggish to catch up, with fullback Kyle Juszczyk recently calling Williams "the most underrated player in the league." The obstacle here is more playing time, but Williams rolls into 2020 as a key component inside a white-knuckle defense.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: DK Metcalf, WR, second NFL season: We've learned to slow our expectations when it comes to rookie wideouts. Plenty of first- and second-round receivers take years to warm up, but Metcalf fit in right away with Russell Wilson's gang. His finest work came in a raucous 160-yard, one-touchdown outburst against the Eagles in the playoffs. Shrugging off his few remaining doubters, the beastly Metcalf fried Philly's corners on multiple occasions, showed raw power with a rash of contested catches and put the game away with a streaking 36-yard grab downfield. Metcalf's ceiling was questioned because of a limited college route tree and a penchant for drops. The only debate now is just how far he'll climb.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: Antoine Winfield Jr., S, first NFL season: The vast majority of Tampa's starry offensive parts have already made the Pro Bowl. If we can tear ourselves away from Tom Brady and friends for just a second, I present to you the case of Antoine Winfield Jr. His 5-foot-9 frame and notable injury history are talking points, but so are his unteachable instincts, closing speed, versatility and NFL bloodline. Winfield doubled as a safety and slot corner at Minnesota and said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he patterns his game after Tyrann Mathieu. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles helped unleash Honey Badger in Arizona and knows exactly what path to follow with Winfield.
WASHINGTON: Chase Young, edge rusher, first NFL season: Ron Rivera has pieces to work with on defense. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat bolster a better-than-advertised front seven set to brim over with Young, the 2020 NFL Draft's second overall pick, screaming off the edge. Labeled by colleague/draft guru Daniel Jeremiah as a "generational talent," Young arrives out of the same Ohio State whirlwind that produced Joey and Nick Bosa. Already the face of Washington's defense, Young looms as the ideal star pupil for Rivera to mold into a figure of terror.