LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As we are just one week away from the first football Sunday of the new NFL season, it’s time to look at some NFL sophomores who are poised for breakout seasons.
Some glaring names such as Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, and Aaron Donald were left off of this list because they already became household names after their rookie seasons.
To put Odell Beckham Jr. on a list of NFL sophomores that are poised to breakout would be wrong. The 22-year-old was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 after collecting 91 receptions, 1,305 yards, and 12 touchdowns in just 12 games played.
He broke countless NFL record and he also was featured on the cover of the popular NFL video game, Madden 15.
Beckham and Donald both made the Pro-Bowl, while Mike Evans had a Pro-Bowl calibur season, putting up 68 receptions, 1,051 yards, and 12 TD, but was held out of the game.
Expect these three players to continue to build on their success that made them rookie superstars.
6. Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
No one runs a faster paced offense then the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Jeremy Maclin gone, Jordan Matthews has ascended to the role of being the Eagles top receiver.
The Eagles averaged 29.6 points per game last season (3rd in the NFL), and tallied a massive 6348 yards as well (5th in NFL).
The team also ranked first in the NFL by averaging a staggering 70.7 plays per game on offense in 2014.
Chip Kelly likes to move fast and often, and Jordan Matthews is going to reap the benefits of the former Oregon head coaches fast-paced style of play.
Sam Bradford takes over for former QB Nick Foles in Philadelphia, and if the preseason is any indication of his regular season performence, the Eagles look to have an extremely potent offense. Bradford went 13-15 for 156 yards and 3 TD in just two games played.
Last season, Matthews had 67 receptions for 872 yards and 8 touchdowns in his rookie year with the Eagles.
However, as the number one option for Bradford this season, those numbers should increase drastically and Matthews is poised to be one of the most targeted receivers in the NFL.
5. Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit Lions
When the Lions selected Ebron with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, a lot of fans across the league were wondering why the team selected a tight end when they had selected Brandon Pettigrew, also a tight end, in the first round of the 2009 draft.
However, since 2009, Pettigrew has totaled only 293 receptions, 2,896 yards, and 16 touchdowns in six seasons with the Lions.
With Calvin Johnson a little banged up, Matthew Stafford is going to have to find other receivers and targets this season.
Golden Tate should have a massive year, but expect the 6-foot-4 inch Ebron to be extremely involved in the offense as well.
Despite only playing in 14 games last season as a backup, Ebron managed to haul in 25 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown.
As the undisputed starter this season, Ebron will see many more targets from Stafford, and could vault himself into one of the premier tight ends in the NFL.
4. Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins traded their number one wide out Mike Wallace to the Minnesota Vikings this off season, but seemed prepared to do so when they drafted Jarvis Landry in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Playing behind Wallace last season, Landy amassed 84 receptions, 758 yards, and 5 touchdowns during his rookie campaign.
The speedster out of LSU impressed the team enough to be named their number one reciever this upcoming season.
With their defense adding Ndamakong Suh to their front line, the offense should see more opportunities to score.
Landry could catch 100 passes this season if he emerges as Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target.
Only Wallace had more targets (115) than Landry did (111) last season for the Dolphins.
3. Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers
With Jordy Nelson scheduled to miss the entire regular season after going down with an injury in the preseason, the Packers second-year receiver out of Fresno St is moved up a spot in the depth chart to the teams number two WR spot.
Playing behind only Randall Cobb, Adams is going to be a frequent target of former-MVP Aaron Rodgers in 2015.
He caught 38 passes for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns last season, but was targeted 66 times.
He ranked third on the team in receptions, reception yards, and targets, but with Nelson out for the season, those numbers should only increase.
The Packers ranked first in the NFL last season by averaging 30.4 points a game, and with arguably the best QB in the NFL throwing to him, Adams should explode into stardom this season.
2. Jadeveon Clowney, LB, Houston Texans
Clowney played in just four games in his rookie year last season after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Texans in 2014. He suffered a torn meniscus on Sept. 7 against the Redskins and went on to miss the rest of the season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee.
He had just seven tackles before he went on the injured reserved list, but when this man is healthy, he is a force and a half.
Let’s take a look at Clowney’s measurables at the NFL Combine in 2014.
He was measured at 6-foot-5 and came in weighing 266 pounds, with a 10-inch hand size, and 34 1/-inch arm length.
He was able to run the 40-yard dash in just 4.53 seconds, the fastest for any defensive lineman at the draft, and one of the fastest times for any defensive lineman in the NFL.
Clowney is a physical specimen, and when healthy, as seen above, he can absolutely tear open offenses. Now pair him with J.J. Watt, who is arguably the best defensive lineman in the league already, and the Texans have an All-Pro defensive line.
If Clowney stays healthy, expect him to be selected to the Pro-Bowl and have an incredible breakout season. Although Clowney has yet to record his first NFL sack, he is already feared as one of the strongest, most physically talented players in the league.
1. Khalil Mack, LB/DE, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders seemed to have acquired quite the talent with their first round pick in 2014.
Khalil Mack is entering his 2nd season in the NFL after being taken with the 5th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
After attending the University of Buffalo, Mack shined in his rookie season for the silver and black.
He won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2014, although he was not selected to the Pro-Bowl.
He collected 76 tackles and added four sacks and a forced fumble last season.
The 24-year-old linebacker is primed to have a huge year, as he adjusts to changing positions from linebacker to defensive end.
The NFL ranked Mack as the 49th best player in the entire NFL when they released their rankings of the Top 100 Players of 2015.
Mack has his teammates raving about him.
Linebacker Malcolm Smith said of Mack, “I have played with some pretty good players… and he is by far the most dominant I have seen. He has everything you want athletically, and he is one of a kind in this league”.
Smith won the Super Bowl MVP for the Seattle Seahawks playing for the “Legion of Boom” defense led by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor.
Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck thinks that Mack is, “capable of an impact on par with Hall of Fame edge rushers Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas”.
Mack was number one on the list called “Making the Leap” compiled by the Around The NFL crew.
“This could be a player emerging from no-name status to a quality starter. Or it could mean an excellent player jumping to superstar status.”
Others on this list are Teddy Bridgewater, Anthony Barr, Sammy Watkins, and Tyrann Mathieu.