Chris Steuber is a new addition to the NFLDraftScout.com family and has already done a fantastic job of helping Chad Reuter and I keep new content on the site even though the season hasn't yet even begun.
His most recent article, "Second Year Players From The 2009 Draft Who Could Take Off" is an interesting read. Chris highlights a player from each of the 2009 draft's seven rounds that he feels could enjoy significantly better "sophomore" seasons than their rookie campaigns.
It is an interesting enough idea that I thought I'd jump in on the conversation. I mean no disrespect to Chris. Quite the opposite, actually. As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery.
I just have some different opinions as to some second year players who may "breakout" in 2010 and thought the group would make for an interesting blog post.
Feel free, as always, to comment...
First Round: Chris Wells, RB, Arizona -- I strongly considered several others for this role. I anticipate big second seasons from several players who, quite frankly, were disappointments their rookie seasons. Chris picked OLB Aaron Maybin for the Bills. The same logic he uses for Maybin I believe could be used to argue for fellow OLBs Aaron Curry (Seattle), Robert Ayers (Denver) and Larry English (San Diego). I'm going instead with Beanie Wells, however. I don't even necessarily expect that the former Buckeye star will start early in the season as I'm among those who feel Tim Hightower rarely gets his due. That said, there is no denying the impact Wells made as the Cardinals finished their season. With Arizona moving to a more run-heavy offense this year, I expect Wells to emerge as one of the NFC's better young backs.
Second Round: Patrick Chung, S, New England -- There were few players I raved about more frequently than Chung prior to the 2009 draft. The former Oregon star hardly took the NFL by storm as a rookie, but let's be honest, adjusting to Bill Belichick's defense can take even the savviest of players a year to get comfortable. Just wait. I'm not wrong on this kid.
Third Round: Deon Butler, WR, Seattle -- Butler emerged as one of the few bright spots on an otherwise slow and unathletic Seattle receiving corps as a rookie. He's been a star in OTAs and training camp so far this summer. Rookie Golden Tate is getting all of the attention, but don't be surprised if this is the undersized speedster who emerges as the Seahawks' most consistent big play threat in 2010.
Fourth Round: Mike Thomas, WR, Jacksonville -- Thomas only started four games for the Jaguars as a rookie, but still shattered the team's record for rookie receptions (48) and receiving yards (453). Sure, his size (5-8, 198) isn't intimidating, but Thomas has the agility and toughness to play well despite a less than ideal frame. He's also been lighting up practices thus far in training camp. Perhaps most importantly, he's already earned David Garrard's trust.
Fifth Round: Javon Ringer, RB, Tennessee -- Ok, for this one Chris and I agree. The Titans decision to trade away LenDale White and yet not aggressively pursue another big back in the draft or free agency gives me the impression that Jeff Fisher and his staff realized the same thing I did when reviewing Ringer: while he may lack size, he certainly doesn't lack for toughness. Ringer isn't going to take away too many of Chris Johnson's touches, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him emerge as the club's primary backup to their superstar.
Sixth Round: Brice McCain, CB, Houston -- I fully recognize that the Texans weren't so overcome with McCain's talent that they ignored cornerback early in the draft. Their first round pick, Kareem Jackson, is a terrific talent who I believe will quickly help erase the negative feelings left behind by now-Atlanta Falcon Dunta Robinson. However, I'm a sucker for quick feet and McCain certainly has those. He may never emerge as a standout starter, but I think he has the agility to be a heckuva nickel corner for a long time.
Seventh Round: Lance Louis, OG, Chicago -- Disrespect Mike Tice's ability as a head coach all you want. For my money, there aren't three better offensive line coaches in the NFL than the former starting NFL tight end. Louis was graded by some as a tight end or H-back coming out of San Diego State, but the Bears took a chance on him last year. Now, Tice believes Louis has a real chance at earning the starting right guard position. With his athleticism and the Bears' focus on the passing game under Mike Martz, Louis could surprise.