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Burning Questions: Will Chris Givens fall victim to the sophomore slump?

The second year is never easy.

Givens loves the fans
Givens loves the fans

Sometimes you just get lucky, that was the case for the St. Louis Rams in the 2012 NFL Draft. The team was on the clock to begin the fourth round and ended up with a steal, Wake Forest wide receiver Chris Givens. In Mike Mayock's pre-combine rankings, Givens was his number five.

Bucky Brooks' take: Givens gives the Rams a productive pass catcher with speed and quickness. Sam Bradford now has a legitimate vertical threat to target on deep throws.

What Givens did after the draft is what makes him special. Everyone was pre-maturely hoping that Brian Quick would be "The Guy" for Bradford, not some fourth-round choice. However that fourth-round pick went on to lead the St. Louis Rams in receiving yards, over former Rams and starters Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola, with 42 catches, 698 yards. and 3 touchdowns.

Now it's year two in Chris Givens' career. There have been some additions and some subtractions on offense.

What factors could force Givens into a slump

Teams get a chance to watch more tape

One of the biggest reasons that players have a slump in their second season, is because teams have more tape of the players to scout.

When you think of Chris Givens, deep threat is the first thing that comes to mind. However, after watching more on Givens, it's clear that he also has the speed to turn screens and sweeps into 10+ gains, he's a north runner (doesn't try to shake and bake) with the ball in his hands, and he has to work on catching the ball n traffic.

That's what teams will know about Givens when the season starts, which is way more than just being a deep threat.

The other players could prove to be more reliable

Chris Givens is "The Guy" right now. When the first week of the season begins anything could happen. The Rams added many new weapons, and although it's still early, either of those players could make a big impact on the team.

Brian Quick is coming off a season where he didn't make the impact that fans expected, so maybe could prove to be a good target for Bradford. Rookies Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey will work their way into Bradford's heart. Austin Pettis could end up a good third down or red zone player, or maybe the tight end duo of Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks will make the biggest impact.

Could just have a bad season

Honestly, sometimes it just happens. Instead of a player building on their success, injuries or mental problems hurt the players' progress. Will this happen to Givens? It's too soon to tell. But it's a possibility, it happened to players in the past and it could easily happen to Givens.

How Chris Givens can escape the slump

If he doesn't have to be the star

Being "The Guy" isn't as easy as players like Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, and Calvin Johnson make it seem. It could be especially hard for Givens entering his second season. Givens would benefit from being a number two wide receiver, or at least a complimentary player.

If the Rams can have teams worried about chasing Tavon Austin all around the field and a bigger body receiver like Quick or Cook standing out and being productive, that will create opportunities for Givens to have more favorable matchups. If he wins those matchups, it makes life easier for Austin and the other players.

Developing more chemistry with Bradford

The most important factor for Givens if he wants to avoid the sophomore slump and build up on last season success. Bradford and Givens need to know what each other does well on the field.

For example, if Bradford is in trouble and Givens knows he can't throw 30 yards down the field while rolling out, maybe he makes it easy for Bradford by adjusting his route and running back 10 yards, or maybe Bradford won't throw the ball up to Givens if he knows he can't win a jump ball. There were some deep balls last year that were either thrown behind Givens or thrown just a little too far, with more practice they could connect on 2 or 3 more deep bombs, and even though it doesn't seem like a lot, those passes go for big yards.

Those are just a couple of examples, but the more chemistry these two players can gain together, the better the offense will flow and Givens can avoid a slump.

He improves his overall game

Givens will have to improve his overall game. That includes the coaches. Right now, Givens has just a couple of routes under his belt that result in big yardage: the deep ball and screens. However, if he adds some more short routes to his arsenal like drag routes, curls, and slants, it would give the defense more to worry about, and increase his catch total.

Don't forget that he was targeted 81 times and only caught 41, He caught 11 passes against the 49ers for 92 yards. Against the Arizona Cardinals he caught five passes for 115 yards, and against the Jets caught four passes for 19 yards, those are the only games where he had at least four catches. Givens might not be an 80 reception receiver, but the Rams need to find ways to feed him more this season.

So what's the chance of Givens having a sophomore slump?

So you skipped through the whole article and are thinking, "I just want to know if there's a chance that he will slump." If you did read to this point, I thank you.

It is possible that he will have a slump. Right now, he does a little more than deep routes, but that's easily where he excels, if teams can prevent the deep ball he won't be as effective.

Because he's such a good deep threat, he will still get open and should be able to have a better receiving year than last year. It will be up to the other weapons to produce so that defenses respect can them enough to give Givens a chance to do his thing.