5 Vikings Led Their Position Groups in Pro Bowl Voting

The Vikings Can Afford
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) warms up before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

The fan voting for this season’s Pro Bowl has officially wrapped up, and as the results have been tabulated, currently 5 Vikings lead their position groups in Pro Bowl voting among NFC players.

Being selected to the NFL’s Pro Bowl doesn’t necessarily mean the same as being named to the All-Pro team, but it remains an honor nonetheless. As things currently stand, there looks to be a lot of purple representing the NFC. Those five players are as follows:

  • Jusitn Jefferson (wide receiver)
  • Harrison Smith (safety)
  • Kene Nwangwu (kick returner)
  • Andrew DePaola (long snapper)
  • Kris Boyd (special teams)

The case for Justin Jefferson speaks for itself. Through 15 weeks, the Vikings star wide receiver leads the NFL in targets (158), receptions (111), and receiving yards (1623). He’s also second in yards per target (10.3).

Jefferson’s receiving yardage total don’t have him on pace for his goal of 2000 yards right now, but he is on pace to break Calvin Johnson’s single-season receiving record by six yards. In all, Jefferson received the fourth-most Pro Bowl votes in the NFL, and he finished second among all receivers behind only Tyreek Hill.

Justin Jefferson leads NFC receivers in Pro Bowl voting
Dec 17, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

On the other side of the field, Harrison Smith has been a stalwart on the Vikings defense as well. The veteran safety is in the middle of another terrific season with the Vikings, and he has recorded 5 interceptions for the fourth time in his career. He is one of four players with that many in 2022, and only C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Tariq Woolen have more. Each of these players have recorded six.

On the special teams, Kene Nwangwu has earned himself a reputation for being one of the more explosive kick returners in the entire league. In his first two NFL seasons, he’s recorded 3 kick return touchdowns. He recorded 2 in 2021 and has another in 2022.

Nwangwu has actually been dominant in terms of kick returners this season. He leads the NFL in kick returns (30) return yards (779) and yards per return (26.0). There are also only two other return men that have had house calls this season (Devin Duvernay, Cordarrelle Patterson).

Nov 13, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Kene Nwangwu (26) returns a kickoff in the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Kris Boyd has also been a terrific gunner for the Vikings special teams group and has helped them limit opposing return teams. He’s also been one of the lead Vikings campaigning for fans to vote for the team on social media alongside long snapper Andrew DePaola.

It turns out, the campaign has worked because each of the players are leaders in their areas. So far in 2022, Boyd has played all 14 games and recorded 7 tackles along with a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Kris Boyd Criticizes Vikings Fans after Win
Dec 9, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive back Kris Boyd. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Overall, the Pro Bowl doesn’t carry the same significance as other All-Star games in similar pro leagues. In fact, especially if the Vikings do make a deep playoff run, there’s a decent chance that many, or all, of these players could opt out of this February’s game. Either way, though, it’s good to see these purple players getting the recognition they deserve from fans across the world.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.