The next Pro Bowlers

Now that the Pro Bowl is in the books (17 players from the AFC West played in the game, a wild 59-41 AFC win) let’s take a look at a player from each AFC West team that may be close to securing his first Pro Bowl berth.

Denver, Chris Kuper, guard: Kuper should have already been there. He is an elite player. Opponents, coaches and scouts around the league consider him one of the best guards in football. He is tough, strong and nasty. He is expected to be fully healed from a broken leg he suffered in Week 17.

Kansas City, Brandon Flowers, cornerback: Flowers is also highly respected around the league. He is steadily improving and he is an upper-echelon player. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is finally recognized as a Pro Bowler next season.

Oakland, Jared Veldheer, tackle: The Raiders have several young players who could soon make the Pro Bowl, but I think Veldheer is on the cusp of making the Pro Bowl. He has been terrific and he has dominated some star pass-rushers. Veldheer is on the verge of stardom.

San Diego, Antwan Barnes, linebacker: Barnes has been quite a find for San Diego. Signed off the street in 2010, Barnes has shown flashes of dominance as a pass-rusher. He had 11 sacks last season. Sack artists get a lot of love from Pro Bowl voters. If he had a big season in 2012, he could get a nod.