- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Pro Bowl selections can be pretty arbitrary. But most of the league’s best players wind up on the all-star game’s roster eventually.
Over at the NFC West Blog, Mike Sando has this look at the 2010 first round of the NFL draft.
Three seasons into a career, a first-round pick should be a solid starter at the least. Ideally, he’d have broken through and made a Pro Bowl.
Two NFL divisions have three 2010 first-rounders who’ve been to a Pro Bowl. Three divisions have two Pro Bowlers. Two divisions have one.
And then there is the AFC South, registering at zero.
A review of that first round:
Jacksonville, DT Tyson Alualu, 10th
Tennessee, DE Derrick Morgan, 16th
Houston, CB, Kareem Jackson, 20th
Indianapolis, DE/OLB, Jerry Hughes, 31st
Alualu has been a disappointment. At his best, he’s been solid but not spectacular. A balky knee has held back his development as well. The broad perception is that Alualu was more a late first-rounder than the 10th player in the draft. Since-departed general manager Gene Smith overreached, but Alualu still has a chance to be a productive player. The Jaguars lost Terrance Knighton, let C.J. Mosley go, but the Jaguars brought in Roy Miller and Sen’Derrick Marks at defensive tackle.
Morgan could be on the verge of a breakout season. He suffered a torn ACL in his fourth game as a rookie, and managed only 2.5 sacks in his comeback season. Last season he started all 16 games, led the team with 6.5 sacks and added 19 pressures. He had a lot of near-misses. The addition of Gregg Williams to the defensive staff could help find ways to maximize Morgan’s potential. He’s not played like a first-rounder yet, but the Titans absolutely expect he will this season, and it’s not unreasonable.
Jackson was a weak link for the Texans in his first two years, lacking confidence no matter what he may have said. But last year he really blossomed, and Houston got very solid play as a payoff for its patience with him. He qualifies as a definite bright spot heading into 2013, and if Johnathan Joseph plays as he did in an excellent 2011 rather than how he did in an injury-plagued 2012, the Texans could really have an excellent pair of corners. I don’t know that Jackson was quite a Pro Bowler last year, but he was more worthy than Joseph, who earned a slot on reputation.
Hughes simply didn’t fit the Colts' 4-3 defense he was drafted into. Indianapolis saw him as a third pass-rusher who would really bolster the unit with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis ahead of him. Now the Colts are using a 3-4 under Chuck Pagano, and Hughes is better suited for the scheme. He also ranks as the team’s second-best pass-rusher at outside linebacker behind Mathis, which is more an indictment of the group than praise of Hughes. (Free-agent addition Erik Walden is regarded as a good edge-setter against the run, but not a quality rush guy.) Hughes gets one big final chance to produce at a higher level this season or his time with the Colts will likely end.
I’d say Morgan and Jackson still have chances to be Pro Bowl players. Morgan’s slow growth was because of a serious injury. Jackson needed more time to adjust than fans would have liked. Alualu’s ceiling at this point is probably as a quality starter, while Hughes would likely max out as a quality contributor.