Whitney Mercilus, if healthy, might finally break through and make a Pro Bowl this season.
Whitney Mercilus, if healthy, might finally break through and make a Pro Bowl this season.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

Which Houston Texans Will Make Their First Pro Bowl In 2018?

Houston Texans training camps roughly three weeks away — start date, July 25, in case you're wondering — and there has never been a Texans season with more anticipation than 2018. We've listed the reasons in this space ad nauseam, so no need to rehash for at least five or six more days, if that. Instead, let's find creative ways to look ahead to this season.

Hey, did you know that only seven current Houston Texans have made a Pro Bowl in their careers, and that only five of those were as a member of the Houston Texans? No? Well, now you know, and here are the names:

* Shane Lechler (2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011)
J.J. Watt (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Jadeveon Clowney (2016, 2017)
DeAndre Hopkins (2015, 2017)
Johnathan Joseph (2011, 2012)
** Tyrann Mathieu (2015)
Jon Weeks (2015)

* as a member of the Oakland Raiders
** as a member of the Arizona Cardinals

So who are the most likely Houston Texans to be named to their first Pro Bowl in 2018? Well, I have the list below, but first, a couple caveats. One, these are odds on being named to the Pro Bowl in the initial announcement of selections, NOT as an alternate replacing players who pull out. Second, we all hope the Texans named to the Pro Bowl are required to miss it because they ALL already have plans in Atlanta the following week. (NOTE: The Super Bowl is in Atlanta this season.)

Ok, now the 2018 first-time Pro Bowl odds board:

DESHAUN WATSON, QB +150
2017 Pro Bowlers:
 Tom Brady, NE; Philip Rivers, LAC; Ben Roethlisberger, PIT
Barring injury, Brady and Big Ben have two of the three spots on lockdown. That said, I feel great about Watson's chances to nab the third spot against a field of Rivers, Carr, and possibly Luck.

WHITNEY MERCILUS, OLB +350
2017 Pro Bowlers: Jadeveon Clowney, BUF; Von Miller, DEN; Terrell Suggs, BAL
We always coin the what-ifs about the Texans' defense with "imagine a healthy Watt, Mercilus and Clowney", so inherently aren't we putting Mercilus in the class of the other two Pro Bowlers? Maybe a sub-class below? Assuming Clowney is more of a defensive end this season, as he was in Romeo Crennel's defense when he made the Pro Bowl as a defensive end in 2016, that opens up a spot for Whitney to nab.

NICK MARTIN, C +850
2017 Pro Bowlers: Maurice Pouncey, PIT; Rodney Hudson, OAK
At some point, we are counting on Martin (a) staying healthy, and (b) living up to his second round pick status. I think having guards not named Su-a-Filo and Allen alongside him will help, as will this offense putting up crazy numbers. Martin, a talented player, can get that Peyton-to-Jeff Saturday kind of rub.

BERNARDRICK McKINNEY +1000
2017 Pro Bowlers:
C.J. Mosley, BAL; Ryan Shazier, PIT
Sadly, a spot opens up with the likely career ending injury to Ryan Shazier late last season. McKinney has a new contract, and if he lives up to it, his name will be in these Pro Bowl conversations.

AARON COLVIN +1500
2017 Pro Bowlers: Jalen Ramsey, JAC; A. J. Bouye, JAC; Aqib Talib, DEN; Casey Hayward, LAC
Last season, A.J. Bouye went to Jacksonville and blew up to Pro Bowl status. Texan fans kind of saw it coming. Could the same thing happen now, somewhat ironically, with Colvin coming to Houston?

WILL FULLER +2000
2017 Pro Bowlers: DeAndre Hopkins, HOU; Antonio Brown, PIT; Keenan Allen, LAC; A. J. Green, CIN
Fuller had seven touchdowns on thirteen catches in four games with Watson last season. This cannot be ignored.

D.J. READER +3500
2017 Pro Bowlers: Geno Atkins, CIN; Jurrell Casey, TEN; Malik Jackson, JAC
I love Reader as a player. Tough to get attention sharing a front seven with Watt, Clowney, and Mercilus, though.

KEVIN JOHNSON +4000
2017 Pro Bowlers: Jalen Ramsey, JAC; A. J. Bouye, JAC; Aqib Talib, DEN; Casey Hayward, LAC
Ok, there's a reason Johnson is a 40 to 1 shot here. He stunk in 2017. However, he is a former first round pick, who played like a first round pick in 2015 and 2016 before injuries derailed his seasons. Last year, he was banged up early, and not good at football late. It's a tough group to crack, but at 40 to 1, why not throw down a sawbuck?

LAMAR MILLER +5000
2017 Pro Bowlers: Le'Veon Bell, PIT; LeSean McCoy, BUF; Kareem Hunt, KC
I'm not even sure Miller is the best running back on his own team, let alone one of the three best in the AFC, but he will likely start, and with Watson at QB, he will put up numbers almost by accident.

FIELD +1500
Most Likely Candidates:
Ka'imi Fairbairn, Zach Cunningham, a fully healthy D'Onta Foreman, someone not named Martin on the o-line, Jay Prosch

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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