This offseason there will be a select group of players that will use all of their time off to perfect their skills and become superstars in 2012.
Some of the athletes mentioned here already took the necessary steps last summer—and it showed in the 2011 season. Unfortunately for these players, one year of success in the NFL is not enough to earn the title, "superstar." Some of these players will have their first taste of a full offseason, which will ultimately benefit them more than it will hurt them—unless they do get injured.
Barring any injuries, expect for the players listed to become household names the way Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Jordy Nelson, Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster did last year.
Here are the 10 NFL players that will use the offseason to become superstars.
Cam Newton was the first pick selected in the 2011 draft, and he went on to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Although Cam Newton became a Pro Bowl player last year, he still has a lot to work on.
Newton had a lot of issues with turnovers in his rookie season, throwing 17 interceptions and fumbling the ball five times.
With all of Newton’s success last year, the Carolina Panthers still ended up with a 6-10 record. Newton needs to lead the Panthers to a better record next year—especially without the “rookie excuse.”
Darren McFadden will take the time this offseason to recover from his unfortunate foot injury that kept him out for a great chunk of the 2011 season. McFadden was on his way to the rushing record last season before his injury—expect him to pick up where he left off prior to the injury in 2012.
If McFadden is able to play a full season, he will undoubtedly compete for the rushing title and be selected to his first Pro Bowl. If healthy, McFadden will also be seen as not only a superstar, but a top five running back in the NFL, a title many Raiders fans want to see out of their prized offensive threat.
Kenny Britt is one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, but because of his constant injuries he has not been able to earn that respect from critics.
Like McFadden, Britt will spend the offseason rehabilitating from his unfortunate ACL injury. Whether it is Matt Hasselbeck or Jake Locker throwing the ball to Britt next season, expect him to join the class of elite young wide receivers in 2012.
Harvin has been criticized for not being a strong No. 1 option for the Vikings at the wide receiver position—these criticisms may be true. Harvin is a tough competitor and will look to quiet all the critics in 2012.
Harvin will likely put up his best numbers in his career next year because of the time he will spend with quarterback Christian Ponder in the offseason. If the Vikings decide to sign or draft a big No. 1 target at wide receiver, then Harvin’s numbers will skyrocket the way they did when he was lined up with Randy Moss for a short period of time in 2010.
Dez Bryant’s position as a wide receiver on the Dallas Cowboys is both a gift and a curse because of his quarterback Tony Romo.
Romo has four incredible options to throw to and sometimes it is difficult to get all of them involved. When Miles Austin went down with injury last season, Romo started to throw the ball more to Laurent Robinson, and not Bryant.
In the offseason, Bryant will spend one more year with Romo, which would likely create a stronger bond between the two. Bryant will also likely spend time working on his issue with dropping passes as well.
Nothing is as dangerous as a third-year wide receiver. According to the Football Docs analysis, the statistics show that most wide receivers shine in their third year. Bryant will not be an exception to the rule.
Andy Dalton shocked the world last year with his consistent play that ultimately led to a playoff berth for the Bengals.
If Dalton is able to do damage with a short offseason, imagine what he would be able to do with a full one. This offseason Dalton will look to improve on his skills and timing with his receivers.
What will help Dalton is his No. 1 option at wide receiver, AJ Green. Green had a sensational rookie season in 2011 and will also look to improve with Dalton during a full offseason. Green will eventually enter elite status at the wide receiver position soon, which will subsequently help Dalton reach the same level at his position.
Dalton and Green already showed what type of threat they can be to opposing defenses—it is tough to say that they will not become superstars and household names in the 2012 NFL Season.
Sam Bradford will win the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2012—barring another injury. Bradford is a very talented quarterback who has been suffering with injuries his whole professional career, including college.
The Rams will have the second pick in the draft this year—this pick will be paramount to Bradford’s success, whether the pick is a left tackle or wide receiver.
Bradford needs to have a strong season in 2012 or he will suffer the tag that no player ever wants to have—a bust.
Ryan Mathews has the talent to be a dual threat running back like LeSean McCoy and Arian Foster—he just hasn't been able to translate that talent to success so far in his young career. But his late-season success might work well for him during his offseason preparations.
Since Mathews joined the Chargers in 2010, he has not really justified the Chargers' decision to trade up and draft him—expect him to try in 2012.
The Chargers will likely have their entire offensive line healthy at the beginning of the 2011 season—which should spell out more success for Mathews.
With a combination of inconsistent play from running back Mike Tolbert and a healthy offensive line, expect Mathews to get more opportunities in the 2012 season.
Alex Smith gained the confidence of being a star quarterback in the NFL once head coach Jim Harbaugh was hired by the San Francisco 49ers. In 2011, Alex Smith started to finally justify his selection as the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
Smith was a Kyle Williams dropped punt away from reaching the Super Bowl in his first year as a quarterback under coach Jim Harbaugh. With a longer offseason, Smith will have more opportunities to perfect his timing with his receivers—which will definitely help in improving his numbers for the 2012 season.
With the best defense in the NFL, Alex Smith could win Super Bowls as a semi-superstar the way Terry Bradshaw did with the Steelers.