With the season coming soon, I’ll give 10 players who I feel are under the radar who will have significant impacts on their teams.
-Devin Thomas, WR, Washington Redskins- Granted, I don’t know TOO much about this kid, I like the little that I saw. He seems to be a big, physical guy who can win the battle at the LOS with CBs, and can create after the catch. In that sense he reminds me of a bigger Laveranues Coles. Unfortunately for Thomas he is behind as far as trying to gain confidence from his coach and playing time due to a bad hamstring. I do think that once the games start and he gets into the flow, especially considering Coach Jim Zorn should be using a lot of spread sets, that Thomas will have a bigger impact than a rookie WR normally would.
-Kenny Phillips, FS, New York Giants- I’ll be honest with you. As a Jets fan, though I like the pick of Dustin Keller, I was absolutely screaming at my TV for the Jets to take Kenny Phillips when we traded back into the first round. I like this kid’s game a lot. His versatility in being able to cover, tackle and run with most people along with his prototype size. I think he will be the best defensive rookie in the NFL this season, and down the line I believe he will be the best pick of this entire draft. That’s how good I think this kid will be.
-Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers- This is Vincent Jackson’s 4th season in the NFL. Last season was his best yet as he had 41 catches for 652 yards and 4 TDs. He averaged an impressive 15.2 yards per catch. Jackson has the type of size and speed you look for in a WR and he is part of a good offensive unit that features weapons such as WR Chris Chambers and the best TE in the game Antonio Gates. Not only does this guy have a very nice skillset he also has complimentary players to help deflect attention off of him. Look for Vincent to have his breakout season this year.
-Greg Olsen, TE, Chicago Bears- Yes I know that their QB situation is unsettled to say the least. That being said, with the departure of Berrian and considering that their #1 and #2 WRs as we speak are Marty Booker, and Brandon Lloyd, Olsen will see a lot of looks. He has all the necessary skills to be a good player and as of right now you can actually make the argument that hes the Bears best offensive position player. He has the speed, the size and the hands to make an impact and I think he will.
-Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets- Last year, Revis had a very good rookie season, as he was relied on to face the #1 WR on every team, week in and week out. Facing the likes of Chad Johnson, Lee Evans, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, Revis held his own. Revis has good footwork, he anticipates like a veteran CB does, he has the speed to keep up with most CBs and is good with his hands in bump and run coverage. In his second season, with a full training camp under his belt, I expect Revis to establish himself as one of the top ten CBs in this league. Even with all the new acquisitions and Kerry Rhodes still being there, I firmly believe Darrelle Revis will be the best player on the Jets in two seasons.
-LaRon Landry, S, Washington Redskins- Landry played very well last year in a tough year for the Skins, with the death of Sean Taylor. His athleticism, his hitting ability, his speed and natural instinct all make him a special talent. He is a little undisciplined at the current moment and will make the boneheaded penalty, as well as trying to do too much at times. All that being said, he has a year under his belt, and I expect him to be even better this year. As I’ve said to friends and family before, I I believe that after this season LaRon Landry will be at least in the discussion when it comes to discussing who the best safety in the league. I personally believe he’ll have the best season of any safety in the NFL. He’s that good.
-D.J. Hackett, WR, Carolina Panthers- Last season, D.J. was on his way to a good season before he hurt himself. With Steve Smith out for the first two games, and no legitimate option at TE for the Panthers, Hackett should get a lot of looks the first two games. Once Smith comes back, he will have his usual bullseye on his back, and should be the focus of the defense, and that will create space for Hackett who has the skills to exploit most #2 CBs in this league. If Delhomme can get back to his 2003 form, expect D.J. to put up big numbers.
-Santonio Holmes, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers- While I realize Holmes had a good year last year recording 52 catches for 942 yards, averaging 18.1 YPC and 8 TDs, I still think he has room for improvement. With a declining Hines Ward and a rookie WR Limas Sweed playing alongside him, Holmes should have a lot of opportunities as Roethlisberger’s main big play thread. Last season, Holmes had 21 catches of over 20 yards. This is his third season in the league, and the third season is normally when a young WR sees a spike in his production. I fully expect Holmes to break 1000 yds this season and 10 TDs.
-Jerious Norwood, HB, Atlanta Falcons- This is a bit of an oddball pick since Norwood is still listed as the 2 back, and they just spent a lot of money on likely FA disappointment Michael Turner. I don’t believe Turner will do enough to keep Norwood off the field, and when Norwood is on the field he produces as evidenced by his 6.2 yard per carry clip. I believe he will see an increase in carries this year, and have a good year for the Falcons. With a rookie QB potentially starting, the Falcons should rely on the running game a lot, which means Norwood should see plenty of opportunities.
-Tony Scheffler, TE, Denver Broncos- This kid has been impressive in the time he’s been on the field, and has a chemistry with standout young QB Jay Cutler. Scheffler had 49 catches for 549 yards last season and 5 TDs. In those 49 catches, Scheffler made a lot of difficult catches in traffic and with guys draped all over him. Considering Brandon Marshall is suspended for the first three games of the season, and Denver doesn’t have anything else worth noting at WR, I expect Scheffler to get a lot of looks in the first three weeks of the season. Considering Scheffler and Cutler already have a chemistry I expect that chemistry between the two to grow as Cutler relies on him more during the Marshall suspension. I can see Scheffler being a Cooley type of TE, and I believe he will have a rise in his numbers.
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