Predicting Breakout Rookies for the NFL's Second Quarter of Season
Rookie quarterbacks dominated the headlines of the NFL season's first quarter, but the spotlight is about to shift.
QB's like Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, along with running back Trent Richardson may continue to be predictably superb, but it is far more interesting to examine which of their rookie counterparts will make their presence felt in Week's 5-8.
Non-household names like Jayron Hosley and Kendall Wright are set to prove that breakout rookies do not have to be top 10 draft picks.
But, lets not give too much away too soon.
Here are the rookies set to break out in the NFL season's second quarter.
7. Jayron Hosley
Jayron Hosley tends to be underrated.
He was underrated during his time with Virginia Tech, and he is already being overshadowed by other rookie defensive backs in the 2012 draft class.
The second quarter of the season may be Hosley's chance to emerge from the shadows.
The New York Giants secondary is in complete disarray, with a new guy injured every week.
Hosley's minor hamstring injury should not cause him to miss any more games, and with the openings all over the secondary, he can assert himself as an every down starter.
He has already shown he can play fast and instinctively, like when he picked off New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez (although picking off Sanchez looks less impressive with each passing week) for a 77-yard touchdown in the preseason.
Great play in Week 5 against one of the NFL's worst teams, the Cleveland Browns, may help Hosley in his quest to be noticed and become a starting CB.
6. Dontari Poe
Does anyone remember the Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? TV show?
I do, and I think about it every time Dontari Poe's name comes up. He simply cannot be found so far this season.
Is it really that surprising?
Poe was as raw and as green as any top 11 pick in recent memory. Perhaps that was why the Chiefs deemed him not ready to start right away.
Well, he has been thrown to the wolves now and Kansas City is desperate to get better at stopping the run, ranking only 20th in the league at this point.
Poe is a supreme talent who simply does not have proper technique in his arsenal yet, but for a team still waiting to see Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson emerge, patience for Poe is nonexistent.
Poe will break out in the second quarter of the season because the Chiefs will need to put him in every possible situation to succeed.
And he has the talent to do it.
5. Kendall Wright
Kendall Wright has been good through four weeks, but after eight weeks his numbers will be great.
The Tennessee Titans wide receiver currently has 18 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
With Kenny Britt often injured, Wright could assume a larger role within the offense at any time.
Throw in the fact that experienced quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has assumed a starting position in the wake of Jake Locker's injury and there is actually a recipe for Wright to have tremendous success.
He has the speed and hands to be an elite, yes elite, NFL wide out.
Now, with more time to fully grasp the playbook and become acclimated to the Titans offense, Wright can continue to build on his decent start to the 2012 season.
4. Morris Claiborne
Morris Claiborne was a big name coming out of LSU and he has been placed under the intense scrutiny of the Dallas Cowboys spotlight.
Well, you know what?
He has been as good as advertised.
The problem is that the Cowboys as a team have struggled mightily, and those struggles have somewhat overshadowed Claiborne's strong start.
He held Hakeem Nicks to just 38 yards in Week 1, no easy task for a rookie cornerback.
Claiborne does not yet have an interception, but those will come with time.
He and the Cowboys have tough tests ahead in Weeks 6 and 8 with the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants.
Two more shutdown performances and Claiborne could make a strong case for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
3. Luke Kuechly
Luke Kuechly was drafted by the Carolina Panthers and everyone applauded the selection.
He then struggled in both the preseason and the first few games of the regular season and his fan club lost a few members.
Well, it should soon start filling back up because Kuechly is slowly showing signs of life, and the next four weeks will be his chance to prove Carolina right.
He was one of the few bright spots in a Week 3 blowout at the hands of the New York Giants, recording 12 tackles and a pass deflection.
The Panthers need a catalyst to turn around their 1-3 start, and Kuechly has just the kind of energy and motor to spur that change, at least defensively.
Carolina has winnable games against the Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears in Weeks 5, 6 and 8, respectively.
Strong linebacker play will be needed in all of those contests.
Kuechly will answer the bell and his fan mail.
2. Alshon Jeffery
Alshon Jeffery is at the unfortunate whim of Chicago Bears QB Jay Cutler.
When Cutler is on his A-game, he is one of the best vertical passers in all of football.
When he is off, receivers like Jeffery can go entire games without catching or even seeing a single pass.
In Week 1, the former South Carolina Gamecock snagged a 42-yard bomb for a touchdown.
In Week 2, he had just one catch for seven yards.
This offense should develop a better sense of consistency in the coming weeks and that will mean increased production for Jeffery.
Defenses are going to have to key in on star Brandon Marshall, meaning less coverage being fixated on No. 17.
Oh, and Chicago's next three opponents?
The less than stellar secondaries of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, respectively.
1. Doug Martin
Doug Martin has been somewhat pedestrian to kick off his NFL career.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pushed him ahead of LeGarrette Blount because he was supposedly a more well-rounded player.
Martin does have talent, but he has only shown it to the tune of 247 yards on 71 carries.
However, hope is not lost.
Martin should nestle into a rhythm once Tampa Bay's offensive line problems settle down. Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph is out for the season and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood has been benched.
Now, consistency across the line can finally take hold and Martin can show off the burst he so often displayed at Boise State.
Games against the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders in three of the next four weeks will provide the proper chance for Martin to become the biggest breakout rookie of the season's second quarter.