Hey ram fans. I am bored and just finished reading every bit of Rams news I can find on the internet, so I thought a poll on here could be interesting and give me something rams-related to do...
A lot of people have been predicting breakout seasons or (god forbid) sophomore slumps for our second year players. Although I would like to predict that all 10 of our 2012 draft picks will make the probowl this coming season, people call that obnoxiously optimistic, and I get that too often.
Although I know the NFL networks "top 100 players" list is not completely accurate, I'd like to assume it's more objective than the rankings of the media and fan bloggers (no offense, including myself), so I'm making my predictions on second year rams players that could make the top 100 list of 2014. That being said, I'm going to include third year players for $h!ts and giggles. Although I know it's very likely that none of them make the list, I'm using that as my definition of a large "breakout season", so this is more a prediction of who is going to earn nationwide recognition than who is actually going to make that list.
1. Michael Brockers: Brockers has the strength to be a run killer on this defense. We have gone through countless defensive linemen for years, but finally proved to be a very good one last season. With a full season of NFL experience, and enough time to have real chemistry with his fellow returning starters (plus Hayes who could be a starter on most lines) Brockers is going to be a beast.
2. Robert Quinn: He is the only reason I decided to include third year players on this list. He had 10.5 sacks in his second season and proved that he can block kicks, which is my second favorite play behind the pick six. Even though Quinn has shown he can take on any LT in the league, I can't see him being double teamed all the time because Brockers demands a lot of man to hold him back, and Dunbar or Ogletree will be blitzing on Robert's side of the line. I wouldn't be surprised to see Robert Quinn dropping 13.5 Quarterbacks next season, making the top 100 list and maybe the probowl.
3. Janoris Jenkins: When we traded back our #6 draft pick, passing up on Morris Claiborne, I was angry and confused. I then threw my beer at my roommate (a bears fan who was in the wrong place at the wrong time) when we picked up a defensive lineman with our first pick. Despite the character issues and general lack of intelligence that was portrayed upon Janoris Jenkins, though, he was a badass last season. His tendency to predict routes and go for the pick six (why I love Janoris) cost him a handful of mistakes, though, leading to 6 points for the bad guys last season. If he can tone up his instincts, and continue to go for the "homerun", just on the right plays, he could be a pro-bowl cornerback in the near future. He won't look as bad without Craig Dahl being the only insurance behind him, by the way, and hopefully T.J. Mcdonald PUNISHES everyone that gets past him this season.
4. Chris Givens: Givens won't make the top 100 list in 2014 unless the Rams make a deep playoff run and Givens has a lot to do with it. I say that because the NFL is too loaded with good receivers. Also, with all the new weapons on our offense, I have no idea if Quick, Austin, Cook, Bailey, Pead, Richardson, Stacey, Kendricks, and/or (probably not) Pettis, will ultimately lead to a better season for Givens by spreading out the defense, or a worse season because someone else will take away from his looks. I could see Austin, Cook, and our go-to running back (whoever it may be) becoming the security blanket that Givens stepped in as last season, reducing his number of catches. For that reason, though, I could see Givens running a lot of deep routes, and with a full season to gain chemistry with Bradford, as well as to learn the playbook inside and out, I could see Givens receiving for over 1,000 yards this season. In fact, I'm boldly stating that Chris Givens WILL gain 1,111+ receiving yards this season.
5. Pead or Richardson: It sounds ignorant, but my opinion of Pead and Richardson is that they are exactly the same. Pead, Richardson, and Walter Payton (my generous comparison) are the same height, weight and speed. Obviously I don't expect one of them to be the next Walter Payton, but I mentioned him to prove that they aren't too small to be an elite running back (i.e. Barry Sanders). I'm sure that one of these guys is better than the other, and hopefully they prove that in training camp. I have high hopes for Zac Stacey, but if one of these guys emerges as the clear number one back on the team (no "rb by committee"), it would be awesome to see him have an Alfred Morris, Doug Martin, or Steven Ridley type breakout season and top 1000 yards. I think that it is actually possible if Jake Long, Roger Saffold, Harvey Dahl, Scott Wells, and the next guy on this list stay healthy and well fed.
6. Rok Watkins: If anyone on our O-line makes the top 100 list next year, it will be anyone else on our offensive line. I only say that because they are all proven (I know this statement is a stretch for Saffold) veterans. That being said, if Rok Watkins wins the starting LG position and plays at a studly level, Bradford will be a very happy Quarterback, and I will be a very happy rams fan.
7. Brian Quick: I'm getting tired of writing so I'm keeping the rest of the explanations short. Brian Quick has the potential to be the next Vincent Jackson if he can learn the playbook and how to run routes. Hopefully he does so sooner than later, if at all.
8. Zuerlein: Legatron, Young G.Z., Greg the Leg!, Hopefully with a year of experience comes nerves of steel. He has a cannon of a leg, but caused us a tie vs. S.F. last season when he couldn't kick straight in O.T. I think he cost us another win with a miss but can't remember and don't want to look it up.
9. I don't know how but I forgot about Trumaine Johnson. Imagine that I put him much higher on this list. In fact, I wouldn't put him there, but he could be #1 on this list. I would put him at #5. He was great for a rookie, and without having to sit behind Bradley theconsistentdisappointment Fletcher, he could most definitely have a "breakout" season.
10. Lance Kendricks: His potential is still there, but overshadowed by the addition of Cook. He will continue to grow as a blocker and pass catcher and hopefully will have a long, solid career with the rams.
What do you all think about these second year players (and Quinn and Kendricks)? I think this list shows that the potential of Fish and Sneads' first draft is almost as exciting as their second.
Random side challenge: name the last draft that we could be optimistic about this many players before Fish and Snead. In the past handful of seasons, Long, Laurinaitis, Bradford, Saffold, and maybe Darian Stewart are the only relevant ones left.