KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Seven Chiefs landed on the AFC roster for the 2023 Pro Bowl revealed Wednesday night including five starters led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
Also named as starters for the AFC roster was center Creed Humphrey and punter Tommy Townsend. Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and left guard Joe Thuney were named as reserves for the team. The Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys each landed seven players on Pro Bowl rosters while the Philadelphia Eagles led the way with eight selections.
It’s the eighth Pro Bowl honor Travis Kelce, who moves into a tie for third place among Pro Bowl honors for tight ends with Antonio Gates and Shannon Sharpe. Only Tony Gonzalez (14) and Jason Witten (11) have more Pro Bowl honors among tight ends.
Only five players have earned more Pro Bowl honors in a Chiefs uniform than Kelce: guard Will Shields (12), Gonzalez (10), linebacker Bobby Bell (9), offensive tackle Jim Tyrer (9) and linebacker Derrick Thomas (9).
Mahomes earned his fifth Pro Bowl appearance in his fifth season as a starting quarterback, and it’s the third time he’s earned the starting nod. Jones and Brown reached earned their fourth Pro Bowl appearances.
Humphrey, Thuney and Townsend each earned their first Pro Bowl nod this season.
Pro Bowl teams are selected by a consensus of votes among fans players and coaches which each group counting one-third determining the rosters. Mahomes ranked No. 3 overall in the fan voting while Kelce ranked No. 5 overall.
Former Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill was selected to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl in his first season with Miami. Hill joins A.J. Green as the only wide receivers to earn Pro Bowl nods in each of their first seven seasons.
Mitch Morse, who played with the Chiefs from 2015 through 2018, was selected to backup Humphrey at center. This is the first Pro Bowl appearance for Morse.
This year’s Pro Bowl features a revamped format as the NFL continues trying to find an entertaining and compelling mixture for the weekend’s festivities. Players will compete in skills competitions during the week culminating in the first AFC vs. NFC flag football game on Sunday, Feb. 5 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Snubs & surprises
Linebacker Nick Bolton won the fan vote for the inside linebacker position but was beaten out by Baltimore’s Roquan Smith and C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets. Bolton made a compelling case ranking third in league with 88 solo tackles and No. 5 in combined tackles with 137. Smith and Mosley each rank in the top 10 in those categories behind Bolton. This is Mosley’s fifth Pro Bowl appearance, and no doubt reputation plays a role in voting. This is the first Pro Bowl nod for Smith, however, who has arguably been snubbed himself in past seasons, twice earning second-team All-Pro honors without landing in the Pro Bowl. Bolton’s time should come soon if he maintains his current development pace.
Running back Isiah Pacheco received the most fan votes for return specialists and ranked fourth in the league in kick return yards. It wouldn’t be a stretch for a Chiefs rookie to earn the return specialists role — that’s how Hill made his first Pro Bowl team. But Baltimore’s Devin Duvernay is one of the league’s most dangerous kick returners, averaging 25.5 yards per return and posting a 103-yard touchdown this season. It’s easier to understand why the players and coaches went in a different direction here.
L’Jarius Sneed leads NFL cornerbacks with 66 tackles, 3.5 sacks and five quarterback hits while Pro Football Focus ranks him as their fourth-highest graded cornerback in the league. One problem is that two of the corners ahead of him — Denver’s Patrick Surtain II and rookie Sauce Gardner of the New York Jets — also made the AFC roster. Miami’s Xavien Howard and Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey also were selected ahead of Sneed. Humphrey has a compelling case but the same can’t be said of Howard, who has allowed a 106.9 passer rating on the season. It’s a down season for Howard but with three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams on his resume, safe to say reputation won out here.
Orlando Brown Jr. landing on the AFC roster might surprise some, especially with the quality of depth at left tackle in the conference. Houston’s Laremy Tunsil was an easy selection for one of the starting selections, and Miami’s Terron Armstead is also deserving of the other spot. Brown and Armstead no doubt benefited from the fact that Miami and Kansas City ranked first and second among the most fan votes by team in the AFC. While fans may gravitate to PFF rankings, players and coaches have other factors that weigh more heavily, Don’t forget that Brown ranks tied for seventh in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed at tackle despite playing in one of the league’s heaviest passing offenses. Brown’s case also certainly benefited from earning Pro Bowl honors in each of the past three seasons. Fans may have a different view but players and coaches have made it clear Brown is a favorite.