After having only three representatives in this year’s Pro Bowl, there will now be five Chicago Bears participating in Hawaii this coming weekend. Rookie right guard Kyle Long was named to the Pro Bowl on Monday, a day after San Francisco 49ers left guard Mike Iupati fractured his left tibia against the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.
Long will join teammates Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Tim Jennings, who was just named as the replacement for Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, in the annual all-star game. The 2012 first-round draft pick showed his gratitude for making the team, and his concern for Iupati in a tweet.
Extremely honored to represent the Bears in the Pro Bowl. Thank you to all the fans for taking the time to vote. Praying for Mike Iupati
— Kyle Long (@Ky1eLong) January 21, 2014
Many questioned the Bears’ decision of drafting Long so high, considering that he only had one year of experience at the University of Oregon. However, Long proved everyone wrong by being an essential part of Chicago’s major improvement along the offensive line. He also got a big hand from fellow rookie right tackle Jordan Mills.
The Bears went from surrendering the eighth-most sacks in 2012 to allowing the fourth fewest this season. In addition, Long helped pave the way for Forte’s 1,339 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns (both career-highs).
With the combination of Long’s skill and mean streak, he’ll definitely be considered as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL for years to come. It also doesn’t hurt that he has a pretty good football pedigree. His father is Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, and his older brother, Chris Long, is one of the defensive stars for the St. Louis Rams.
Long will only get better over time, and should be a familiar face on future Pro Bowl rosters.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.