The Pro Bowl kicks off Sunday and it features teams crafted by Hall of Fame wide receivers Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice.
In the most declined Pro Bowl ever, a total of 133 players were selected for a game that will have just 86 players in action. On Team Rice, all three quarterbacks are replacements for players that dropped out, as only Team Irvin’s Russell Wilson actually made it when the teams were first announced.
After it was played in Glendale, Ariz. in 2015, the Pro Bowl is back in Hawaii in 2016 and set to air at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN 2. Below we take a look at the roster of Team Rice.
While Michael Irvin followed two offensive picks with three straight defensive picks, Jerry Rice addressed defense with just one of his first five picks. Instead, he added two quarterbacks and two wide receivers in the first five picks, adding them to a roster that already featured Odell Beckham Jr. as captain.
In a game where defense isn’t taken very seriously, the decision to target passers and receivers early is probably a sound one for Rice, who also snagged the first running back off the board by taking Adrian Peterson with his seventh selection.
Eli Manning, 35, was Rice’s first selection, and he is the only quarterback in the game who is older than 27, so his veteran leadership might be especially helpful Sunday.
Team Rice has an interesting blend of veterans participating in a Pro Bowl for possibly the last time and young players who have long careers ahead of them. With his second pick, Rice picked second-year pass rusher Khalil Mack, but in a game where defensive backs often make the difference, he’ll have young players like Marcus Peters and Jason Verrett mixed in with veterans like Brent Grimes and Charles Woodson.
The special teams weren’t actually selected during the Pro Bowl Draft by Rice and were pre-determined Tuesday, one day before Irvin and Rice picked teams. While kickers and punters typically don’t make much impact on Pro Bowls (unless they’re getting crushed by Sean Taylor), the addition of Tyler Lockett could be a big one for Team Rice. The rookie is as dangerous as any player with the ball in his hands and will likely get offensive touches as kickoff returns aren’t allowed by Pro Bowl rules.