Elite 8: Charles Leno Jr., Cody Whitehair Added to Pro Bowl, Which Now Features Eight Bears Studs

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Elite 8: Charles Leno Jr., Cody Whitehair Added to Pro Bowl, Which Now Features Eight Bears Studs

Chicago Bears

When Mitch Trubisky enters the Pro Bowl huddle, he’ll be greeted by a pair of familiar faces he knows from Chicago.

Left tackle Charles Leno Jr. and center Cody Whitehair have been added to the Pro Bowl roster, giving the Bears eight (8!!!) players in the NFL’s annual all-star game. Leno replaces Terron Armstead, while Whitehair gets the call for Max Unger, a pair of New Orleans Saints teammates who just finished off a grueling NFC Championship Game appearance that (like the Bears) left them wanting to play in the “Bowl” game players would rather be attending. But still … this is an awesome honor for a pair of Bears who worked their way into Pro Bowl form.

Somewhere, ex-Bears GM Phil Emery is smiling knowing that Leno – a seventh-round pick in 2014 by the Emery regime – will join fellow 2014 draft classmate Kyle Fuller as Pro Bowl representatives for Chicago. Leno was a seventh-round pick who has improved in all facets every year he has been entrenched as the quarterback’s blindside protector. According to Pro Football Focus, Leno was the 18th highest-graded tackle among the 80 players who qualified at the position.

Whitehair’s road to Pro Bowl prominence hit a detour in 2017 when injuries pushed him to play three different positions as a second-year player. The lack of consistency was a factor in Whitehair’s up-and-down year, but it should come as no surprise that he was steady and productive again upon his full-time return to center. Whitehair was PFF’s 10th highest-graded center and fourth among NFC qualifiers.

With the additions of Leno and Whitehair, the Bears now have three Pro Bowl representatives on offense (Trubisky, Whitehair, Leno), four on defense (Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller), and one on special teams (Tarik Cohen). It’s a well-rounded group that personifies what GM Ryan Pace has done well during his four years running the Bears. Pace has made some solid draft picks (Trubisky, Whitehair, Jackson, Cohen), retained key players from the previous regime (Leno, Fuller), added an underrated free agent who has blossomed in a new system (Hicks), and acquired a star via trade (Mack). So while the Bears would rather be preparing for the big game in Atlanta, the team should take pride in the talent it is sending to Orlando. If this crop of players continues to grow, a Super Bowl trip will be their next stop.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.