Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, WR Justin Jefferson, TE T.J. Hockenson, OLB Za’Darius Smith andLS Andrew DePaola have been selected by players, fans and coaches to the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games. Jefferson, Smith and DePaola were named starters.
The following Vikings were named alternates for the 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games: RB Dalvin Cook (first), FB C.J. Ham (first), OLB Danielle Hunter (first), RS Kene Nwangwu (first), T Christian Darrisaw (second), C Garrett Bradbury (second), S Harrison Smith (second), ST Kris Boyd (third), LB Eric Kendricks (third).
Kirk Cousins has been selected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl and fourth overall (2021-22, 2019, 2016) in his career. The Holland, Michigan, native earns the honor after completing 355 passes, the fourth-most in the league, and throwing 24 passing touchdowns, a tie for the fifth-most this season. Cousins earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 15, leading the Vikings to their first win over Indianapolis since 1997, overcoming a 33-point deficit at halftime to achieve the largest comeback in NFL history. In Week 15, Cousins completed a season-high 34 passes for a career-high 460 passing yards and a career-high-tying four passing touchdowns, leading the team to a 39-36 overtime victory to secure the NFC North Division Title.
In 2022, Cousins set the franchise record for consecutive completions in a game after going 17-for-17 in passing completions in Week 5 vs. Chicago. His 17 consecutive completions to start a game is also the fifth-longest streak in NFL history. After throwing for 460 yards in Week 15, Cousins (20,205) passed QB Daunte Culpepper (20,162) for the third-most passing yards in franchise history, doing so in only five seasons with the club. In his last four games this season, Cousins has thrown for a league-best passing yards (1,357), the second-most passing touchdowns (10) and the fifth-best completion percentage (69.5%). Cousins has thrown for over 400 yards in a game eight times in his career and has thrown for over 400 yards in five games as a Viking, the most in franchise history. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2015, his seven games with 400-plus passing yards are tied with Tom Brady for the third-most in the NFL in that span, trailing only Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott, who have done so in nine games.
Justin Jefferson earns his third consecutive Pro Bowl honor (2020-22), joining Randy Moss (1998-2000) as the only Vikings wide receivers to reach the Pro Bowl in three consecutive seasons to start their career. The St. Rose, Louisiana, native garnered NFC Offensive Player of the Month in November for the second season in a row, becoming the first Vikings wide receiver to accomplish this feat. Jefferson was also named NFC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance in Week 10 against the Buffalo where he recorded 10 receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown, including a contested one handed 32-yard reception on fourth-and-18 to put the Vikings in scoring position.
This season, the third-year wide receiver set a new NFL record for most receiving yards (4,639) through a players first three seasons, passing the previous record of 4,163 yards set by Randy Moss. Jefferson has tallied 23 games with 100-plus receiving yards, which also set a new NFL record for most 100-yard receiving games through a players first three seasons. In Week 14 at Detroit, Jefferson set a regular-season team record with 223 receiving yards on 11 receptions, passing the previous record set by WR Sammy White (210, 11/7/76 vs. DET) and it marks the most any player has had in a game this season. He recently joined Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Antonio Brown as the only players in NFL history to record at least 1,600 receiving yards in consecutive seasons. With 10 receiving yards this week, Jefferson (1,623) can set the single-season franchise record for receiving yards, set by Moss in 2003 with 1,632.
T.J. Hockenson notches his second Pro Bowl honor (2022, 2020), becoming the first Vikings tight end to be selected to the Pro Bowl since Kyle Rudolph in 2017. Hockenson began the 2022 season with the Detroit Lions, where he caught 26 passes for 326 yards, including a career long 81-yard reception in Week 4 against Seattle, the longest catch by a tight end in the 2022 season. He is also the only tight end to catch more than one pass of at least 50 yards in 2022. This season, Hockenson has caught 65 passes for 730 receiving yards, the second-most by a tight end in 2022. His four receiving touchdowns are also tied for the sixth-most by a tight end through Week 15. Since joining the Vikings prior to Week 9, the fourth-year tight end has caught 39 passes for 335 yards, one receiving touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie the game and force OT in Week 15 against the Colts. In the team’s matchup vs. New England in Week 12, Hockenson set the NFL record for most catches (25) by a tight end in their first four games with a team. Following his game against his former team in Detroit in Week 14, Hockenson set the franchise record for most receptions (36) by any player in his first season with the club after their first six games played, passing Rickey Young’s previous record of 33 in 1978.
Za’Darius Smith earns his third Pro Bowl honor (2022, 2019-2020) after a season where he ranked fifth in the NFC in sacks (10.0), tied for fourth in tackles for loss (15). Smith currently leads the NFL in quarterback hurries (49) and is tied for the league lead in quarterback pressures (71), according to Pro Football Focus. This season, Smith has earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week (Week 8) and NFC Defensive Player of the Month (October) honors. In the Week 8 victory against the Arizona Cardinals, Smith recorded seven tackles, 3.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and one pass defended, joining Kevin Williams as the only other Viking in franchise history to secure that stat line in a single game. He also is the first player in the NFL to accomplish the feat since Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Devin White did so in 2020 (12/20 vs. ATL). Smith’s 3.0 sacks and four tackles for loss both led the NFL in Week 8. In October, Smith led the NFL with 6.5 sacks and was tied for the league-lead with eight tackles for loss (Maxx Crosby), helping the team to a perfect 4-0 record during the month. His 22 quarterback pressures (according to Next Gen Stats) tied for the second most in October, trailing only Seattle’s Uchenna Nwosu (23), who played in one more game and 118 more defensive snaps than Smith.
Andrew DePaola earns his first Pro Bowl honor, becoming the first long snapper in franchise history to be selected to the Pro Bowl. The Parkton, Maryland, native has handled long snapping duties in all 14 games played this season. This season, DePaola helped K Greg Joseph connect on four game-winning field goals, setting the new team record for the most in a single season. He also helped rookie P Ryan Wright record the 10th-best net punting average (42.8) and the 10th-lowest opponent punt return average (7.9) in 2022. Since entering the league in 2014, DePaola has played in 103 games and tallied 17 tackles.
Five players were named to the Pro Bowl in Kevin O’Connell’s first year as head coach, the second-most by a first-year head coach in franchise history. Only Dennis Green (6) had more in 1992.