As the NFL season begins to start creeping up slowly but surely, we will take a look at 5 players either coming off an injury-laden season, a down year or just flat out breakout:
5. Aaron Dobson (New England Patriots) - While some would consider Dobson's rookie season somewhat of a success, I see a little more to be desired. The 6'3'' WR out of Marshall was drafted by New England to be that big go-to WR that would take the top off the defense and use that 4.44 speed to beat coverage and receive touchdown after touchdown from Mr. Brady. While that didn't necessarily happen, he still had a productive season for a rookie in New England standards. He had the most catches in a season by a rookie in the Brady era with 37 and yardage with 519. A foot injury would hamper his season off and on. But when I see Dobson, I see a guy who blew by a Pittsburgh defender and caught a 78 yard missile from Tom Brady. That's the type of WR I fully expect to see this season. Should he stay healthy, you could see 70-80 catches, upwards of 1,000 yards and a handful of touchdowns. He has that kind of potential.
4. Toby Gerhart (Jacksonville Jaguars) - Buried behind AD Adrian Peterson, it's kind of hard to see what kind of player Gerhart could be. With Peterson injured, you would think he would have stepped to the plate a little better, a little more confident then he did, but I don't think that's the type of player he is. He landed a nice little contract in a pretty good situation. A team that let go of Maurice Jones-Drew, they obviously still see the potential in Gerhart. I do too. He's a big back with good wheels, that can break tackles, that can block, and can catch passes. Something Jones-Drew could do. I essentially think they landed themselves a Jones-Drew clone. Gerhart is ready to shoulder a full-time load and I expect to see good results. He is already expected to see 15-20 touches a game. Should he exceed that, I expect a very solid season from him. Expect to see anywhere from 800-1,000 total yards from Jacksonville's new feature back.
3. Emmanuel Sanders (Denver Broncos) - Playing with a good Quarterback in his own right, Sanders gets to up the ante a little bit more, playing with reigning MVP, Peyton Manning. Coming off a 67 catch, 740 yard season, I fully expect Sanders to blow those numbers away. Should he pick up Manning's offense, he could be in line for a 80-90 catch season with 1,100-1,200 yard season playing in such a potent offense with the likes of the Thomas', Wes Welker's, soild running backs, and with a revamped defense, the offense could see the field a ton this season. Sanders has good hands and great wheels and looks to replace the hole left by Eric Decker, who landed a nice contract with the New York Jets. I believe he will do so mostly because most teams will look to shut down Demariyus Thomas and Wes Welker in the slot, leaving the likes of Sanders and Julius Thomas open. Watch out.
2. Golden Tate (Detroit Lions) - Playing for a run-first type of offense in Seattle, it's kind of hard to tell what kind of player Tate was capable of becoming. Now he finally gets a chance to showcase his talents, playing in a predominately pass-first offense. Matthew Stafford will look to bounce back from a down year. Oh, having Calvin Johnson on the opposite side of you doesn't hurt much either. Detroit's offense looks revamped as well, resigning Brandon Pettigrew, drafting stud tight end Eric Ebron, the returns of Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, should give Tate ample amounts of chances to have the ball in his hands and I think he will succeed. He has awesome hands and good wheels. He's versatile as well as he can return punts and that will loom large for an offense that needs the help. Look for a 70-80 catch season, nearing 900-1,000 yards and a handful of touchdowns.
1. Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins) - Now I know you're wondering "How he was amazing his rookie year." Yes, he was in fact great his rookie year. But coming off another knee injury, you wonder if he would come back to earth. He did. He came back too early from the injury, thus the sub par year. Getting benched in the process. Now well over a year passed his injury, RGIII should be as healthy as he has been, he's got a new offensive minded coach in Jay Gruden at his disposal, and with the addition of Desean Jackson, he has plenty of help to bounce back. I'm not sure how much of the read option they will use, but I think they will plan on passing heavy, having Alfred Morris open up the pass game, they will also use RGIII's legs as well because the success it brings. The defense will give the offense plenty of opportunities this year and with Griffin back healthier then last year, there is no excuse. I expect a big year from him to the tune of over 3,000 passing yards with 18-21 touchdowns, 600+ rushing yards with a handful of touchdowns with a chance to bring the team to the playoff's as the NFC East tends to beat up on each other all year.