Adam: Linval Joseph, DT
This one is easy, to me. It doesn’t matter if you are his teammate or his opponent. There are no excuses about injuries to the guy next to him. There is no matchup too tough. Analytical types are every bit as high on him as a casual observer. He is disruptive, impacting both the run and the pass, and his impact has been as consistent as anybody on this defense… and there are plenty of consistent producers on this defense. Mid-season? I say Joseph is the clearest Pro Bowler on this team, without a doubt.
Brent: Anthony Barr, LB
Trying to stray from the pack here a little bit as the obvious answer is Harrison Smith, and rightfully so. Smith has been dominant in 2015, and I believe should be in consideration as the best safety in the league. That said, Barr plays a massive role in the Vikings defense and goes into Sunday’s game as the 3rd-highest-rated linebacker by PFF standards. Looking at Barr statistically, you note that he is second on the team in tackles, has a fumble recovery, 1.5 sacks and an INT. Not bad for a second-year linebacker some feared would be slow to adapt to the NFL level. What isn’t noted in Barr’s stats is his role he plays bringing pressure on the ‘A’ gap that has become so popular in Mike Zimmer’s defense. He might not always blitz, but his presence is enough for quarterbacks to be ever aware of where No. 55 is.
Andy: Marcus Sherels, CB
Harrison, Barr and Linval are obvious candidates, and I think they will each make their first Pro Bowl appearance this year (and rightfully so), but I’m going to order off the menu and advocate for the Man From the Med City, the Marvelous Marcus Sherels.
The Pro Bowl features a special teams player slot that can be used for a returner (Cordarrelle his rookie year) or an all-around contributor (think Matthew Slater or Kassim Osgood). Sherels is both of them. Sherels is currently No. 6 in the NFL in punt return average (11.2 ypr), has consistently been in the top-5 in the NFL in that category over his career, and returned one to the house against Chicago. Add in the fact that he’s also the Vikings’ most valuable special teams contributor as a punt gunner and running down kickoffs, and it’s an easy case to make that the PRIDE of John Marshall High School and the Minnesota Golden Gophers should be in Hawaii come January the week before the Super Bowl…
…But he won’t be, because we’ll be prepping for the Patriots………
Lindsey: Linval Joseph, DT
I think there are a couple players who should be shoo-ins for the 2016 Pro Bowl, Harrison Smith being one of them. That being said, if I could send just one player, I would actually have to go with Joseph this time around. Mike Zimmer’s defense has been strong across the board this season, and there is more than one individual that stands out. When a nose tackle gains as much positive attention as Joseph has recently, though, you can’t ignore the difference he’s making. He creates resistance against both run and pass offense, and his aggressiveness on the line is outstanding.
Carl: Harrison Smith, S
After a Pro Bowl snub in 2014, who wouldn’t be rooting for Harrison Smith to be selected this year. His interception total is down from last season, but his 44 combine tackles, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble leads the team in those categories. He is an intimidating play maker who is playing at a higher level than his stats would suggest.