Six Seahawks Make the Pro Bowl

After their dismal 13-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday, the Seahawks were in need of some good news. They received it on Tuesday when the NFC Pro Bowl rosters were named, and six Seahawks were on the list.

Reflecting the team's newfound defensive emphasis was the fact that four Seattle defenders were voted in as starters - defensive end Patrick Kerney, middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, outside linebacker Julian Peterson and cornerback Marcus Trufant. Offensive tackle Walter Jones will start once again, and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was named as a reserve. Receiver/returner Nate Burleson was also named as an alternate on special teams.

This has been the most prolific era in the franchise's history from a Pro Bowl perspective -- seven Seahawks in 2005, four in 2006, and the six this season. In 2005, Tatupu became the first Seahawks rookie to make the Pro Bowl since Rufus Porter in 1988.

Peterson, a free agent acquisition before the 2006 season, added to a currently dominant linebacker corps with his selection last season. Kerney was signed this past offseason and leads the NFL in sacks. At 9-5, the Seahawks have fallen a bit from the NFL's elite in the last two seasons, but there's more than enough star power to make things happen on the field.

Now, without further ado, a closer look at Seattle's six Pro Bowl stars and what got them there:

DE Patrick Kerney -- Second Pro Bowl

When Kerney was signed to a six-year, $39.5 million contract by the Seahawks in early March, many fans didn't know that to think. Still feeling burned by the disastrous signing of Grant Wistrom, another "high-motor" (read: pigment-impaired) defensive end in 2004, some felt that the acquisition of a 30-year-old player, coming off of shoulder surgery, at a speed position, was a big mistake. This opinion seemed to be validated early in the season, when Kerney amassed only 3.5 sacks in his first eight games.

However, starting with the 24-0 week 10 win on November 12, Kerney went off the hook. He picked up three sacks in three different games -- Chicago, Arizona and St. Louis. Kerney was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Month for November. His versatility was exhibited in the loss to Carolina -- though he didn't sack rookie Matt Moore once because he was frequently double-teamed, Kerney was strong in run support and came up with eight tackles. His ability to attack at the line of scrimmage has always been his greatest asset, and he's been an amazing presence for this defense.

OLB Julian Peterson -- Fourth Pro Bowl

Asked to be a defensive Swiss army knife during his time in San Francisco, Peterson has been more of a standard linebacker/rush end in his two seasons with the Seahawks. His 19 sacks in 2005 and 2006 almost match the 21.5 he amassed in six years with the 49ers. He's an asset in pass coverage for his position, but what really makes him a crucial part of this defense is the fact that opposing offenses have to account for him in a front seven that is increasingly filled with elite starters who can't be ignored. He ranks third on the team with 68 tackles, and his four forced fumbles are Seattle's best.

MLB Lofa Tatupu -- Third Pro Bowl

In the second round of the 2005 draft, the Seahawks traded up to select an undersized no-name linebacker from USC in the second round. Three years and the same number of Pro Bowls later, Tatupu might be the best middle linebacker in the game. He is as good an argument as there is for the idea that character and intelligence mean more than sheer athletic ability alone when it comes to scouting players at the NFL level.

Tatupu has led the Seahawks in tackles each of his three seasons, but that's fairly common for a middle linebacker. What makes him special is his almost supernatural ability to read offenses, a gift that was evident from his college days. Watch his three-interception game against the Eagles this year - Tatupu knew where those passes were going, and he exploited A.J. Feeley's relatively limited playbook for all it was worth. How many rookies do you know that can take over a veteran defense in his first minicamp? This is Tatupu's team as much as it is Matt Hasselbeck's, or Mike Holmgren's, or Tim Ruskell's. No matter what spins around him, Lofa Tatupu defines his defense.

CB Marcus Trufant -- First Pro Bowl

"Hometown discount"? Not now. Trufant's first Pro Bowl selection may price him right out of a re-do with the Seahawks, the local angle be damned. After a solid rookie season in 2003, we have watched this son of Tacoma tackle like a safety with great glee, and get demolished by many elite receivers with some consternation (Torry Holt should name a son after him). Trufant's Success Rate dropped from 26th to 80th among cornerbacks from 2005 to 2006, and it's fair to say that few expected this kind of season. But the Seahawks spent on legitimate safety help, moved Trufant back to his preferred left side, and hired Jim Mora to get all the ducks in a row.

As a result, Trufant has finally come into his own as an elite cornerback. Interceptions don't tell the whole story with defensive backs -- Trufant had three of his seven in one game -- but he's tailed those receivers who used to burn him like an entirely new player. Is a 27-year old cornerback with one great year worth Nate Clements money? The Seahawks, and several other teams, will be asking that question in the offseason.

QB Matt Hasselbeck -- Third Pro Bowl

Hasselbeck's excellent season has a great deal to do with Mike Holmgren's new pass-happy gameplan, but there's a lot to be said for a quarterback who can get things done effectively when everyone knows what's coming. Statistically and from an efficiency perspective, he's trending to his best season ever (currently ranked ninth in DPAR; he ranked fifth in 2005), and all this with a running game that could best be described as "extinct".

He's never been the team's Most Valuable Player for a full season, but it's hard to argue that he hasn't been just exactly that in 2007.

LT Walter Jones -- Eighth Pro Bowl

The greatest player in Seahawks history (sorry, Mr. Largent…) may not be up to his 2005 standard of greatness, but he'll be a slam-dunk as an All-Pro until he retires. With Orlando Pace off the map and Jonathan Ogden fading fast, #71 would drastically improve just about any line, and it's time to acknowledge him as the best lineman of his era.

As a reward for his constant and infinite greatness, the Seahawks need to find him a running buddy like the one he'll line up next to in Hawaii. Some fellow named Hutchinson. Top Stories