Fan voting for the 2022 Pro Bowl opened on Tuesday, and at least a few Tennessee Titans players are worthy of having some ballots go their way.
Here are the three players most deserving of the nod.
S Kevin Byard
On the heels of a season in which he was mostly invisible, Byard has re-established himself as one of the NFL’s premier safeties.
Byard’s five interceptions trail only Trevon Diggs of the Cowboys for the highest mark in the league. The instincts that made Byard an All-Pro in 2017 are again paying dividends.
Interceptions aren’t the only indication of Byard’s impact, though. He also scored a touchdown on a scoop and score against Jacksonville, and he’s recorded 24 solo tackles.
Beyond the stats, Byard is a key leader for the Titans’ defense. He plays a big role in getting his fellow defenders lined up properly and on the same page.
As Mike Vrabel frequently says, Byard “runs the show” for Tennessee.
He’s gone beyond Pro Bowl status; Byard should be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year.
DL Jeffery Simmons
Jeffery Simmons broke down the success of the #Titans’ pass rush.
He later said that his recent individual success has come from taking the next step in his technique. pic.twitter.com/rAGR94yZFw
— Luke Worsham (@luke_worsham) November 17, 2021
When the Titans drafted Simmons with the 19th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, he was billed as a top-flight lineman who fell down the board because of a knee injury.
Over the first two years of his career, Simmons didn’t live up to that billing. He did some nice things for the Titans, particularly in the run game, but was never a consistent force for the defense.
In 2021, though, he is shattering those pre-draft expectations.
Simmons has become an explosive, disruptive and consistent playmaker for the Titans’ defense. His presence against both the run and the pass has been a nightmare for offenses.
His 7.5 sacks through 10 games are the most in the NFL for interior defensive linemen.
Perhaps Simmons’ most notable play of 2021, though, came in the run game. His tackle for loss on Bills QB Josh Allen at the end of Tennessee’s big Monday Night Football win over Buffalo made highlight reels all week long.
A team captain for the Titans, Simmons was disappointed when he didn’t get a Pro Bowl nod in 2020. He is more than deserving of that honor in 2021.
OLB Harold Landry
In a contract year, Landry has become one of the NFL’s most consistent impact players on defense. He has more sacks than everyone in the NFL not named T.J. Watt, and he’s been a major factor behind the Titans’ 8-2 start to the season.
What’s, perhaps, been most impressive about Landry’s massive breakout is the versatility he’s shown.
The Titans have used him all across the front seven, even blitzing him as an off-ball linebacker, at times. Just about everywhere he’s played, he’s been successful.
On pace for 17 sacks, Landry is an easy choice for the Pro Bowl.
DL Denico Autry Autry has been great for the Titans this year, and he’s extremely close to being on the main list of Pro Bowl-worthy players on the team. The one thing he’s missing is week-to-week consistency in terms of making big plays.
While Autry has five sacks over the season, he’s only recorded a sack in three out of 10 games. Stats are crucial for Pro Bowl recognition, and he needs to nab them more frequently to get national attention.
His impact on the Titans specifically, though, has been immense. It’s just hard to justify him over some of the edge rushers he’s unfairly pitted against in the antiquated Pro Bowl voting setup.
K Randy Bullock Bullock has been exceptional for the Titans in 2021, missing just two kicks overall and none from inside of 40. However, the Ravens’ Justin Tucker will be the AFC’s Pro Bowl representative at kicker; he locked up that designation when he hit a walk-off 66-yard kick to beat the Lions.
Cover image: Steve Roberts/USA Today