Ezekiel Ansah, DE, first Pro Bowl selection: Ansah is in the midst of a breakout season for the Lions after being taken in the first round of the 2013 draft. He’s tied for second in the NFL in sacks, with 13.5, and he is tied for the league lead in forced fumbles, with four. At the beginning of the season, he said one of his goals was double-digit sacks in 2015. He has been much more effective than that, at times dominating opposing offensive lines and forcing teams to double-team him. Considering he didn’t start playing football until midway through his time at BYU and he entered the NFL as a raw prospect, his ascent has been one of the more dramatic in the NFL over the past three years.
Calvin Johnson, WR, sixth Pro Bowl selection: This is somewhat surprising, even though Johnson is one of the bigger names in the game. He didn’t show up in the fan voting for most of the year and he has only one 100-yard game this season. Johnson has fewer yards and receptions than any other receiver selected to the Pro Bowl this season -- and it isn’t even close, considering Johnson isn’t in the top 10 in either category. Of course, the past two weeks, when Johnson has two combined catches, were likely not factored into the majority of the voting. So Johnson picks up the nod, but perhaps for the first time in his career, it is a questionable one. That he made it over Denver’s Demaryius Thomas and Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson, who are having better statistical years, is mildly surprising.
Darius Slay, CB: It was a pretty packed group at his position, but the third-year pro is in the midst of a breakout season for the Lions. He doesn’t have the turnover numbers that many of the guys who made the game did -- only two interceptions might have done him in -- but he had a stretch of four or five games in which he was one of the top corners in the league. Teams have started to go away from him, as well. So while it seemed like he might be on the fence for an actual spot, the real surprise is that he’s not even an alternate. That’s perhaps the bigger surprise, considering he is definitely no worse than being in the next tier behind the group of eight that made it. He deserved to at least be an alternate if not to make the team outright.