NFL Players Who Will Become Media Darlings
Each year, as a crop of new rookies arrives and some veteran players change locations, we not only see the emergence of exciting new players (or ones we just hadn't noticed before), but new or fresh personalities for the media to go nuts over.
Last year we saw Robert Griffin III explode into public consciousness, along with Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Doug Martin.
All of them ended up in situations that put them in position to succeed both on the field and off.
A combination of the right place, the right time and the right amount of success let the personalities of these players shine and the media took notice.
Who will be the players to see their "Q" rating jump upward?
Let's take a look.
Dee Milliner, Cornerback, New York Jets
Milliner has some big shoes to fill, not just on the field but off it as well.
Darrelle Revis wasn't a quote machine but he had plenty of personality and was the single best player the Jets had.
By virtue of being a rookie, asked to replace one of the best players in the NFL today and in one of the largest markets on the planet, Milliner is going to see the press a ton.
Having interviewed him at the draft itself, I found he certainly has a good personality and sense of humor. With a little practice, he should give the media plenty to talk about.
For Jets fans, hopefully they'll all be good things.
DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans
While Houston isn't the biggest media market in the NFL nor are the Texans the biggest draw, Hopkins finds himself amongst an interesting group of players who have made their mark both on the field and in the public consciousness.
So rookie DeAndre Hopkins has the example to follow, and the spotlight across from Andre Johnson. The Texans have needed a second wide receiver to play off Johnson, and if Hopkins does well, he will find himself in the spotlight plenty.
Martellus Bennett, Tight End, Chicago Bears
Martellus Bennett started to really enter the public consciousness in a big way while he was with the New York Giants.
However, as big as his personality is, he wasn't the main story with the Giants. He was always overshadowed by Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
Bennett may end up second fiddle in targets to Brandon Marshall, but he is destined to be a much more integral weapon in Chicago than he was in New York.
As his stats and targets go up, so too will his presence in the media.
By midseason, Bennett will most likely have joined them.
Geno Smith, Quarterback, New York Jets
Geno Smith might not win the starting quarterback job outright, but don't be shocked if he's starting by the middle of the season.
We know Mark Sanchez isn't the future of this franchise, so even if Smith needs some more work (and he does), you can expect the Jets to decide to see what they have in Smith before they double dip into quarterbacks early next year as well.
Not only did I get a chance to personally interview Smith at the 2013 NFL draft, I also got to see him handle the media at his initial press conference as a Jet at Radio City Music Hall.
While dropping to the second round clearly wasn't ideal, Smith handled the questions fired at him with good grace and humor. He's clearly comfortable with the media and while he didn't get the full force of the New York media scrum that day, he definitely has since and acquitted himself well at those moments.
Like Dee Milliner, Smith will eventually be replacing a big name for the Jets. He has the personality and verbal skills to make the New York media love him, or at least love to quote him.
In a huge market like New York, it will only be a matter of time before his act goes nationwide.
Le’Veon Bell, Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh might not be the media center of the universe, but it has a very passionate fanbase and a dedicated group of reporters. Both groups keep a watchful eye on the team and are always hungry for news.
Enter Le’Veon Bell, who could be a huge factor in this offense this season. Bell is a dynamic running back who is very exciting to watch on the field and equally engaging off it.
If Bell is half as good as he appears to be, he'll get in front of the microphone a ton and the media will eat him up.
EJ Manuel, Quarterback, Buffalo Bills
When you're the only quarterback taken in the first round of a draft and the least expected, you're going to get scrutinized.
Good thing for Manuel he's an engaging fellow.
While the Bills are saying nothing has been settled, Kevin Kolb isn't exactly someone you trust to get the job done and Manuel is a great fit for new head coach Doug Marrone's offense.
Plus, you don't spend a high draft pick on a quarterback to have him sit on the bench. You pick him to be the face of your franchise.
That means that, even though Buffalo isn't a media magnet, plenty of national media will be watching him very closely.
Therefore, there's a good chance they'll be entranced by Week 1 and unable to stop talking about him by Week 2.
Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks
Percy Harvin was a big deal in Minnesota, but the only time he really broke national consciousness was when he was complaining.
Now that's he's in Seattle, you're already seeing more Harvin than usual. He's reportedly working very hard, and now that the Vikings drama (somewhat self-inflicted of course) is behind him, we should see a very different side of him.
While the Vikings are a team on the rise, the Seahawks are already a very good team and will be on the national stage a bunch again this year. The team is already listed as having four national level games (Sunday or Monday night). So, we'll be seeing and hearing a lot from Harvin.
And once he gets going, the media is going to love him.
Whether he's preening or complaining, it's just going to be on a bigger stage.
Andrew Garda is the former NFC North lead writer and a current NFL analyst and video personality for Bleacher Report. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.