Multiple playmakers on both sides of the ball have guided the Green Bay Packers to an 8-2 start and divisional lead entering Week 12 of their resurgent season, and NFL fans took notice for the opening round of voting for the 2020 Pro Bowl.
Five different Packers players lead their respective position groups after the first week of online fan voting, with tackle David Bakhtiari (43,262 votes), outside linebacker Preston Smith (33,583), strong safety Adrian Amos (14,366), kicker Mason Crosby (13,713) and punter JK Scott (12,110) all frontrunners in the NFC.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who ranks seventh league-wide in total fan votes, and fullback Danny Vitale are also both second in their position group, while 12 more of their Packers teammates featured among the top seven. The Packers as a team received the third-most fan votes by any team, behind just the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
Fan voting will remain open on NFL.com until Dec. 12, while Twitter voting opens Nov. 28 with a variety of ways for fans to vote along with the inclusion of the hashtag: #ProBowlVote.
Packers’ Newcomers Making an Impression
It is an interesting assortment of early voting leaders for the Packers, as some selections make more sense than others.
Smith, for example, is deservedly leading his group of pass-rushers with his 10 sacks tied for fourth-most in the league and a pass-rush win rate of 27 percent, according to ESPN Analytics. He is doing all of this, mind you, with Za’Darius Smith (8.5 sacks, 25 percent win rate) competing with him on the opposite side.
Amos, who joined the Packers this past offseason after four seasons with the Chicago Bears, also makes for a worthy frontrunner less for what he’s done statistically and more for doing all that the Packers have needed him to do this season.
While his 56 tackles and game-sealing interception Week 1 against the Bears are noteworthy, the real value in the fifth-year strong safety has been his ability to hold together a secondary that has played stretches without a number of its playmakers. The Packers also installed Amos alongside newcomer Darnell Savage Jr., who himself missed two games, and have trusted him to show their star rookie the ropes in his first year in the system.
Regardless of whether either is named to the Pro Bowl this season, the impact of Smith and Amos has been palpable enough to validate general manager Brian Gutekunst’s big-spending choices this past offseason, which saw him agree to multiple big contracts to bring both Smiths and Amos to Green Bay in the offseason.
David Bakhtiari’s Inclusion is a Little Curious
Seeing Bakhtiari make the list is a little surprising considering his recent struggles. While he is a no-doubt talent with enough veteran experience to be trusted to sort out his mistakes, there is no denying he has made plenty. He is currently the third-most penalized player in the league with 10 for 79 yards on the season, including four false starts and five holding calls. He also gave up a sack in the Packers’ ugly 26-11 loss at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Still, Bakhtiari — who was a Pro Bowler in 2016 — is the fourth-most successful offensive tackle against the pass block and is a major part of the Packers offensive line earning the top pass-blocking rating in the league.
Sunday night will be a good re-evaluation of Bakhtiari after getting a chance to rest and reset during the bye week, as the 49ers possess a dangerous defensive front and are tied for the most sacks in the league with 39 as a team through 10 games.