Authored by Abu Mara - 4th August, 2010 - 11:53 am
We are entering the dog days of August, which means two things: back to school clothes and football. It's the time of year where general managers are finalizing rookie contracts, renegotiating contracts with veterans, and trying to fill any last minute holes. NFL training camps are filled with two-a-days, soreness and the fear factor of injuries. But, training camps can provide the opportunity for young players to begin their breakout to become stars. Here are my 2010 breakout players.
|Current Featured Columns|
|$.07 For the Start of Preseason|
Peyton Manning's Denver debut, the draft ramifications of Tyrann Mathieu, Jonathan Vilma's can't-lose situation, Usain Bolt as a wideout and more.
Thoughts From The Road
While driving up and down America's heartland, Jeff Risdon weighs in on LaDainian Tomlinson, BCS provisions, Percy Harvin, Colt McCoy and Jerry Sandusky.
Opening Day Quarterback Starters
The NFL is living in a golden age of quarterbacks where the one common denominator of winning teams is a strong passing game.
Eagles Swoop In, Sign Asomugha
The Eagles seemingly came out of nowhere to sign Nnamdi Asomugha as they eye a trip to the Super Bowl.
Brian Orakpo, OLB/DE, Washington Redskins
Every snap against Brian Orakpo is a reoccurring nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. Orakpo's lightning quick first step gives opposing offensive linemen fits. Okrapo is a natural pass rusher that excels in disrupting and taking down quarterbacks. Orakpo's rookie season totals of 11 sacks, one forced fumble and 50 tackles should only be his freshman orientation. Orakpo, a University of Texas weight room legend, is a complete outside linebacker/defensive end that provides a stout presence against the run at the point of attack. Washington's switch to the 3-4 defense from the 4-3 defense, should only free up the dangerous Orakpo to increase his harassment of opposing quarterbacks. If so look for ?Sackpo? to take his place amongst the league's elite pass rushers.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
There is no doubt about it, Matthew Stafford is a good old fashioned Texas gunslinger. Equipped with an accurate cannon for a right arm, Stafford excels in throwing the ball down the field. Even though Stafford was only a rookie, his leadership and cool demeanor allowed him to raise the level of the lowly Lions. Another one of his leadership traits that shouldn't go overlooked is toughness. Stafford's toughness was on display in Week 11 against the Cleveland Browns when he gutted out a separated shoulder on the second to last play only to come back and throw a game winning touchdown.
Stafford's ability to make quick and decisive decisions should only improve in his second season. For Stafford to take the next step, he must improve on his unacceptable 53 percent completion rate. If Stafford's maturation process takes that next step, look for him and the immensely talented Calvin Johnson to form one of the NFL's most dangerous combinations.
Michael Crabtree, WR, San Francisco 49ers
At this time last year, Michael Crabtree was deep in the heart of Texas trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents in a nasty contract holdout that eventually cost him five games. But after posting 48 receptions, 625 receiving yards and two touchdowns in 11 games, Crabtree's talent ended up doing his talking. Crabtree is a big and strong receiver that possesses deceptive quickness in and out of his breaks. Crabtree's strong suction-like hands allow him to excel at catching balls in traffic. In the red-zone, Crabtree's ability to attack the ball at its high point is one of his best attributes. This season with teams paying more attention to Pro Bowlers Vernon Davis and Frank Gore, look for Crabtree's sophomore numbers to spike into the neighborhood of 1,100 yards and eight touchdowns.
Chris Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals
Chris ?Beanie? Wells is a battering ram that bruises and beats down opponents. 'Beanie' is a beast that possesses enough power to run over would be tacklers, yet enough speed to bounce the ball outside. Wells is a complete running back that has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as well as the agility to make opponents miss in space and make house-calls. So, Wells' rookie season of 793 rushing yards and seven touchdowns should only be the beginning. After only 176 carries in his rookie season, look for his carries and production to increase in 2010. If Wells' production increases, look for him to approach 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Vontae Davis, CB, Miami Dolphins
Before last season, Vontae Davis was best known as Vernon Davis' little brother. After last season, Davis is now known as one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL. At 5 foot-11, and 203 pounds, Davis is a physical cornerback that excels in man-to-man coverage. Davis is a great athlete that attacks the ball at its highest point and his 51 tackles show his willingness to be physical. The Dolphins didn't cosset their rookie cornerback, they threw him onto the NFL island against future Hall Of Famers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. Davis' natural athleticism allows him to change directions and break up passes, which is illustrated by his 4 interceptions and 11 pass breaks ups. The Dolphins approach to Davis' rookie season should only accelerate his maturation process. If Davis' maturation process takes the next step, look for teams to start avoiding Davis.
LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
LeSean McCoy's game resembles the shelf life of an NFL running back. Now you see them... now you don't. McCoy's ability to make defenders miss in space made the slippery running back was one of last years second round steals. As the prototypical west-coast system running back, McCoy is a duel threat that excels at running and receiving the football. McCoy's rookie season of 676 yards rushing and 308 receiving, should be the first step for the Philadelphia running back. Philadelphia and Andy Reid are one of the few NFL teams that still use the true ?west- coast system?. The ?west-coast system? fits McCoy like a glove and takes advantage of McCoy's versatility out of the backfield. The departure of Brian Westbrook should only increase McCoy's production. So, look for McCoy to take the next step and approach 1,500 total yards and 8 touchdowns.