Every summer, we speculate on who the breakout stars of an NFL season might be, trying to gauge players ready to make a big jump.
Last summer, few could have expected Cleveland tight end Jordan Cameron or Denver tight end Julius Thomas to make the leaps they did. So as we head into the 2014 season, it's time to try and figure out some of the potential breakout stars for the next six months. Here are 10 players I think are poised to take a big jump forward.
1. Jamie Collins, LB, New England Patriots: He flashed star power late last season as an athletic run-and-chase linebacker. I think his pass-rush skills will show up even more this season. He has all the tools to be a special player.
2. Sio Moore, OLB, Oakland Raiders: He played well for a bad team last season, and few noticed. The Raiders might struggle again, but keep an eye on Moore. He had 50 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks in his first season and should do a lot more in his second.
3. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings: In his last six games, he had 24 of his 45 catches and three of his four receiving touchdowns. He showed all season he could be an explosive return man. I will be shocked if he doesn't have 70 catches for 1,200 yards -- at least.
4. Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons struggled as a team and as a defense, but Trufant showed why he was a first-round pick. He has great cover skills. And he plays with a swagger. A better pass rush will help.
5. Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals: He really came on in his second season in 2013, catching 65 passes for a 16.0 per-catch average and five touchdowns. There are some in the league who think that he might be close to passing Larry Fitzgerald as the top receiver on the roster. This season will tell the story, but I expect even better numbers from him in 2014.
6. Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles: He is a pass-catching tight end who fits in with what the Eagles do on offense. I think we only saw a little of what he can do in 2013. Look for him to catch 65 passes this season.
7. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Cleveland Browns: He showed off some of his pass-rush skills with five sacks as a rookie in 2013. That number could easily double this season as he gets more time and understands the little tricks of rushing the passer better.
8. Kenny Stills, WR, New Orleans Saints: Take a look at his per-catch average from last season -- 20 yards. That's impressive for a rookie still learning the position. In the Saints' offense, he is the wide receiver who can stretch the field.
9. Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona Cardinals: He can run it. He can catch it. And he has home-run speed. That's the exact type of back you need in this era of wide-open football. Bruce Arians loves his ability. So will Cardinals fans.
10. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins: He is the new breed of tight end who can create matchup problems in the secondary. He showed some nice pass-catch skills last season before being sidelined with a concussion.