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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / NFL News / Predictions for the Best NFL Sophomores

Predictions for the Best NFL Sophomores

Predictions for the best NFL sophomores
Publish Date: 07/08/2018
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

A lot of young stars were drafted last year and we’re all hoping they will manage to avoid sophomore slumps and continue to improve as pros. I decided to try and predict the stats for some of the more notable second year players. Keep in mind these are all just predictions, they could end up being totally wrong. Also I didn’t included all notable second year players because there are just so many. It would be crazy to do all of them.

Deshaun Watson QB Houston Texans

Projection: Pro Bowler

Stats: 3,680 yards, 33 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 95 rushes, 570 yards, 5 touchdowns

Watson was an MVP candidate before he tore his ACL and missed more than half the season. Keep in mind he had 19 touchdowns in just six games as a starter (seven total). He also had just 204 passing attempts, meaning he threw a touchdown somewhere between every ten and eleven attempts.

Mitchell Trubisky QB Chicago Bears

Projection: Quality Starter

Stats: 3,250 yards 17 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 50 rushes, 270 yards, 3 touchdowns

He was disappointing in his rookie year and people are hoping he’ll be the next Jared Goff. But Jared Goff’s don’t pop up every year, far more often players just continue to be busts. I don’t think that will happen but Trubisky won’t be as good as people keep thinking he will be.

Patrick Mahomes QB Kansas City Chiefs

Projection: Rising Star

Stats: 3,700 yards, 20 touchdowns, 15 interceptions

It’s hard to say how well Mahomes will play, after all there is a very small sample size of his play during actual NFL games. I think he’ll come out firing in 2018 and will accumulate a good number of yards but will also throw a lot of interceptions.

Kareem Hunt RB Kansas City Chiefs

Projection: Pro Bowl Selection

Stats: 255 attempts, 1,175 yards, 9 touchdowns, 60 receptions, 500 yards, 2 touchdowns

I’d be surprised if Hunt repeated as the rushing champion in 2018. It certainly won’t be a sophomore slump though, Hunt will still have impressive numbers and do enough to make the Pro Bowl.

Leonard Fournette RB Jacksonville Jaguars

Projection: Pro Bowl Snub

Stats: 300 attempts, 1,200 yards, 10 touchdowns, 45 receptions, 300 yards, 1 touchdown

Fournette looked more limited last season than I think we expected him to be. He’s the type of player who might be nearing his ceiling quickly. If that’s the case he’ll still be a great NFL player, just not the generational type of runner people expected him to be.

Alvin Kamara RB New Orleans Saints

Projection: Pro Bowl Selection

Stats: 200 attempts, 850 yards, 7 touchdowns, 75 receptions, 850 yards, 4 touchdowns

Mark Ingram will be suspended for the first few games of the season and all of the focus will be on Kamara. I think he’s better when paired with another runner, but he’s just so versatile. I don’t necessarily think he’ll rush for 1,000 yards every year but his yards from scrimmage will always be high.

Dalvin Cook RB Minnesota Vikings

Projection: Pro Bowl Selection

Stats: 275 attempts, 1,300 yards, 8 touchdowns, 65 receptions, 550 yards, 2 touchdowns

I thought he was the second best running back in the 2017 draft. Cook missed most of the season and will be looking to bounce back. If he’s fully healthy I think he can play with the best of them.

Joe Mixon RB Cincinnati Bengals

Projection: Quality Starter

Stats: 260 attempts, 1,070 yards, six touchdowns, 40 receptions, 375 yards, 1 touchdown

His rookie season was confusing and disappointing, but Mixon has a lot of room for improvement. The Bengals should look to get him more touches in 2018 to unlock his full potential.

Christian McCaffrey RB Carolina Panthers

Projection: Starting Gadget Back

Stats: 150 attempts, 525 yards, 2 touchdowns, 87 receptions, 625 yards, 6 touchdowns

He just can’t run through the middle. I just don’t think he’s big enough and that means he’s not going to be a 1,000 yard rusher and he is approaching his ceiling quickly. That doesn’t mean he won’t have a long career as a gadget back.

Evan Engram TE New York Giants

Projection: Future Pro Bowler

Stats: 76 receptions, 845 yards, 7 touchdowns

Engram needs to shore up his hands a little. Besides that, he played well in a poor Giants offense in 2017. With Odell Beckham Jr. back I think he’ll get more open looks.

JuJu Smith-Schuster WR Pittsburgh Steelers

Projection: Pro Bowl Snub

Stats: 80 receptions, 1,100 yards, 9 touchdowns

Talk about the perfect complement to Antonio Brown, the Steelers have one of if not the best receiver dup in the league. Smith-Schuster is an electric, fun player to watch. As long as he stays out of trouble he’ll be great.

Cooper Kupp WR Los Angeles Rams

Projection: Quality Backup Receiver

Stats: 75 receptions, 950 yards, 5 touchdowns

Kupp defied expectations as a rookie and outperformed his draft position in the third round. I don’t see him as a first string receiver but he could easily be a team’s second or third option.

Myles Garrett DE Cleveland Browns

Projection: Pro Bowl Selection, Future All-Pro

Stats: 55 tackles, 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 passes defensed

The hype around him coming out of college was crazy and he lived up to it, despite being injured. In just nine games as a starter he had seven sacks and displayed the freakish athleticism that made him the first pick in the draft.

Carl Lawson DE Cincinnati Bengals

Projection: Quality Starter

Stats: 24 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defensed

Lawson put up better numbers than expected from the fourth round selection. He played in all 16 games in 2017 but started in just one. He still managed to record 8.5 sacks but only 16 combined tackles.

Derek Barnett DE Philadelphia Eagles

Projection: Future Pro Bowler

Stats: 38 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovered, 3 passes defensed

He never started for the Eagles last year and was a disappointment early on in the season before settling in and becoming a great contributor on the Super Bowl champions. He should make strides in year two now that he’s adjusted to the pros.

T.J. Watt OLB Pittsburgh Steelers

Projection: Rising Star

Stats: 60 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Watt showed up in a big way for the Steelers in 2017. He’s looking like the next great Steelers outside linebacker, but only time will tell. One thing is for sure, he’s definitely J.J. Watt’s brother.

Jarrad Davis MLB Detroit Lions

Projection: Quality Starter

Stats: 112 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defensed

He’s not the most athletic middle linebacker in the league, but he has good technique and does a little bit of everything. While I don’t see him becoming a Pro Bowler, he’ll be great starter for years to come.

Marshon Lattimore CB New Orleans Saints

Projection: Second Team All-Pro

Stats: 65 tackles, 4 interceptions, 14 passes defensed

Lattimore fell to 11 in the draft because of injury concerns but had the best season out of any rookie defender. By his third year or so he’s on track to be in the top tier of shutdown cornerbacks. He might even become the best.

Tre’Davious White CB Buffalo Bills

Projection: Future Pro Bowler

Stats: 65 tackles, 5 interceptions, 15 passes defensed

White was arguably a Pro Bowl snub as a rookie and should be earning the honor within the next two years if he continues to improve and build on his success so far. The Bills were lucky to draft him at 27th Overall.

Jamal Adams S New York Jets

Projection: Pro Bowl Selection, Future All-Pro

Stats: 90 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 10 passes defensed

Adams is one of the best players to come out of the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s an aggressive, tackling machine who will revolutionize the Jets secondary and will provide the team with a star player. Adams will make leaps and bounds in the years to come.

Malik Hooker S Indianapolis Colts

Projections: Future Pro Bowler

Stats: 45 tackles, 4 interceptions, 12 passes defensed

These numbers could be off if Hooker misses the first few games of the 2018 season while he rehabs from a torn ACL that cost him most his rookie campaign. Even though he made some mistakes in his six starts and seven total appearances last year, he still recorded three interceptions, or one pick for every two starts.

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