Each Team's Break Out Stars: NFC Edition
Dallas Cowboys - Jourdan Lewis CB
- The sophomore corner has no one in his way this season to hold him back or any off field issues looming over him. This season he gets to come in and flash that athletic talent that teams were salivating over. He slid into the Cowboys lap caused by off the field issues, but he proved admirable as an undersized corner in his first season. I loved his ball skills and talent that help him overcome his size issues. Of course I doubt he stays as an outside corner, but his talents at the slot should really be a big plus for this average defense.
New York Giants - Roger Lewis WR
- I was really impressed last season at what Lewis was able to with little help across from him on the Giants\' offense last season. He was able to put up consistent numbers and was a reliable pass catcher. With OBJ and Sterling Shepard still in and out of the lineup with injuries I would not be shocked if his good report with Eli last year carries over to this season and he ends up being the more reliable option for them throughout the season as a go to weapon for this reloaded offense.
Philadelphia Eagles - Mack Hollins WR
- If the Eagles continue to try and be ahead of the curve like they were last season I would not be shocked if they move Nelson Agholor at his peak after his solid season last year. However, it will not be just to move him just to move him, but to make room for Ma Hollins who is a bigger target much like Alshon Jeffrey who thrived for them. Hollins even flashed some potential in limited opportunities to make them possibly give him more looks this season.
Washington Redskins - The Defense as a whole
- People keep sleeping on the Redskin, but they have drafted amazingly well over the years and now finally put the finishing touches on their defense. The likes of Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson, Montae Nicholson and Fabian Moreau round out a terrific defensive rookie class from last year who all can emerge this season. To go along with solid veterans like Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Zach Brown, and Josh Norman to provide the steady play they are all capable of. Overall, I think this side of the ball is capable of carrying this team more so than the offense with Alex Smith at the helm.
Chicago Bears - Mitchell Trubisky QB
- As a fan I kind of would like to see Kevin White to finally emerge and stay healthy for a year, but all signs point towards Trubisky to emerge. He has all the tools around him with a solid o-line, better receivers, a go to running back, and a new head coach who\'s new innovative offense can really unlock the key to Trubisky\'s ascent. The only issue is how good this division is that may limit their overall success in the win column, but they should look like a better team with Trubisky looking like a potential franchise quarterback.
Detroit Lions - Taylor Decker OT
- Missing half of the season robbed Decker the opportunity to establish himself as a top fight young left tackle. He will have another shot this season if he can stay healthy and should continue to look great protecting Matthew Stafford who is beginning to get up there in age and may start showing more wear and tears this season. Decker himself was a surprise as a rookie and now has a few off seasons to build upon that to make himself one of the top tackles in the league.
Green Bay Packers - Jamaal Williams RB
- I was a big fan of his coming into the draft last year, but he went on to have an up and down rookie year marred with injuries. If he can get past that and emerge from this committee of backs he should start to prove my beliefs right. He has the size, speed, and vision of a top grind it out back who can get yards in bunches until he busts out the home run hit. His issue is his hands that need more work, but with a full off season of work he should get a grasp of it.
Minnesota Vikings - Dalvin Cook RB
- If not for a knee injury last season I think he would have beaten out Alvin Kamara for rookie of the year and maybe even helped propel the Vikings into the Super Bowl. Cook showed flashes of a great all around game with his speed and ability out of the back field makes him the ideal modern day back. With his greater size he should be an even better version of Kamara who is a smaller back and on a good Vikings offense with Kirk Cousins being an upgrade at quarterback he should be a great player before you know it.
Atlanta Falcons - Austin Hooper TE
- I am tempted to write in Calvin Ridley here, but I\'ll save that for my break out rookies. Instead, I will lean towards another receiver the Falcons will have to lean on if Julio Jones continues to be a bonehead holding out for a new contract while his still has three years left, but still has him paid as one of the top receivers. Hooper as seen his looks tick up from his rookie to his sophomore season and it should continue as they try to diversify this offense so Matt Ryan is not always keyed in on Jones. Hooper\'s size and all around talent is a steady player who should be a good tool for them in a league with very inconsistent tight end play across the league.
Carolina Panthers - Shaq Thompson LB
- Thompson always seems to be the forgotten man among the trio of terrific linebackers on their roster. However, he has been the more consistent producer in terms of staying on the field and providing all around impact. With Kuechly always going to be dealing with concussions for the rest of his career and with Thomas Davis trending downward in his older age and now being suspended. Maybe this is the year Thompson truly breaks out and becomes a star for this defense.
New Orleans Saints - Cameron Meredith WR
- This might be the bias side of me with Meredith being a former Bear, but I thought letting him walk for a relatively cheap deal was a poor decision. Especially, when a smartly run team with a good offensive coach wants him then it means he actually has good potential to flourish. The Saints have been needing a compliment to Michael Thomas across from him and Meredith can be that guy. He has the size, hands, and long stride speed to be a talented compliment. Plus, being a former college quarterback he is still learning the position and should continue to trend upward on a more noteworthy team in New Orleans.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Justin Evans S
- There were a ton of good safeties from the 2017 draft class that are teeming with talent ready to bust out in a big way. One of those safeties is definitely Justin Evans who already made some great plays in the back end of the defense picking passes off and making key tackles. He suffered an ankle injury cutting his season short last year, but he should be healthy going into next season and locked in with being the team\'s starting safety. With the improved defensive line bringing in Vinny Curry and Jason Pierre-Paul who should provide more pressure up front.
Arizona Cardinals - Ricky Seal-Jones TE
- The former stand out receiver at Texas A&M is starting to get his feet under him as a tight end. With a clear path to starting time this year and a full off season to work on his craft he should unlock a ton of athletic upside at the position. Plus, with Sam Bradford at the helm known for being a check down king he may rely on Seal-Jones a ton this season. Even if rookie Josh Rosen could lean on him as he gets his feet under him. Overall, I just think this athletic freak is ready to break out and if they get rookie Christian Kirk to play up to his potential along with David Johnson back they should have a more well-rounded offense.
Los Angeles Rams - Samson Ebukam OLB
- On a team with seemingly every position filled out and occupied by a star or one on the way to becoming one they only position left up for grabs is on the edge with Robert Quinn gone. Last year\'s 4th round rookie out of Eastern Washington already tallied 2 sacks in very limited snaps so with a full slate of snaps and the talent next to him he is just ready to clean up the scraps. He is also said to be a favorite of Wade Phillips who is ready to unlock his technique and potential to compliment his athletic prowess.
Seattle Seahawks - None
- This team is one that has been relying on a lot of older veterans and has very little possible breakout potential outside of maybe Shaq Griffin or one of the young blockers they brought in. Overall, I think this is going to be a shaky game for them as they look to reload this season.
San Francisco 49ers - Solomon Thomas DE
- This is for the 49ers benefit more than anything. Thomas looked like a fish out of water during his rookie despite tallying three sacks during his shaky play. If he can get his feet under him along with Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner getting used to their new positions in a 3-4 front they can truly create a dynamic young front. Actually any of those three can be taken as a break out candidate, but Thomas is the much more athletic specimen who has the potential to be a great pass rusher for them.