2010 NFL Season Preview: 10 Players Who Will Have a Sophomore Slump
Each year, rookies coming out of the NCAA have a huge impact in their inaugural NFL season, only to disappoint in years to come. This slide show takes a look at the standout rookies from last season who are doomed to reduced production in the 2010 season.
To decide this list, a variety of factors were taken into account, including additions or departures of players, transitions to new coaching staffs or schemes, and suspensions.
10. LB Brian Cushing, Houston Texans
Former Southern Cal and current Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing earned the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award last season, after recording 133 tackles, four sacks, four interceptions, and forcing two fumbles.
One may not think that these rookie numbers have any reason to decline, yet Cushing was suspended for four games after violating the NFL's banned substances policy.
Of the four games he is suspended for, two are against the Colts and Raiders, teams Cushing had great success against, recording 30 tackles and deflecting a pass last year.
9. QB Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Mark Sanchez was the talk of the 2009 draft, and did make it to the 2009 AFC Championship game. However, Sanchez simply managed the Jets, who relied heavily on their rushing attack to lead them to the post season.
Sanchez passed for 2,444 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions last year. With the Jets turning to Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson, look for the Jets to focus on the run again this year.
Sanchez really needs to work on his decisions and making his reads before he can be compared with the top quarterbacks in the NFL.
8. WR Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings
Percy Harvin burst onto the scene last year, being a main facet of the Vikings passing and special teams attack.
Harvin caught 60 passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns, while returning 42 kicks for 1,156 yards and a touchdown.
Brett Favre's career year led to inflated stats for all of the Vikings offensive position players, and another year like last is highly unexpected, so while Harvin may have a big impact on the Vikings return game, similar offensive production to last year is highly unexpected.
7. RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
Knowshon Moreno was the only rookie running back that came close to the 1,000 yard pinnacle, as he rushed for 947 yards and seven touchdowns. However, he only averaged 3.7 ypc behind one of the best offensive lines in football.
This year, the Broncos leading offensive weapon over the past few seasons, Brandon Marshall, is gone, and Moreno will be expected to perform.
Teams will be game planning for Moreno to see more touches, due to the immediate impact the departure of Marshall will have on the team. And, I don't see Moreno improving, especially with injuries concerning left tackle Ryan Clady.
6. FS Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
The second rounder out of Oregon was in contention for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award after snagging nine passes, and deflecting another 20. His tackles weren't there, as he only had 33.
Two of Byrd's interceptions came in end-of-game situations on "Hail Mary" passes, and a lot of passes simply fell to him. It is highly unlikely that opposing quarterbacks allow that many passes to fall to him again this season.
5. WR Austin Collie, Indianapolis Colts
Austin Collie tied Percy Harvin of the Minnesota Vikings for the most receptions by a rookie, with 60, and recorded 676 yards and seven touchdowns.
The emergence of Pierre Garcon, who had a HUGE postseason, along with the return of Anthony Gonzalez, who missed most of last season due to injury, will limit the targets Collie gets from Peyton Manning.
Look for Collie to be productive, but don't expect much more than his numbers from last year.
4. WR Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles
Jeremy Maclin was a highly drafted wide receiver in 2009, and was able to make plays with Donovan McNabb throwing him the ball.
Now, Kevin Kolb is taking over the reigns, and his inexperience will show. Also, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy will take targets away from Maclin, who is looking to improve from him 2009 season totals of 56 receptions, 773 yards, and four touchdowns.
3. RB Shonn Greene, New York Jets
Shonn Greene has been handed the keys to the New York Jets backfield in only his second year in the National Football League. I'm not sure LaDanian Tomlinson will be able to perform well enough for this tandem to excel this year.
Greene had a decent regular season, rushing 108 times for 540 yards and two touchdowns, but his outstanding post season performance of 54 attempts for 304 yards and two touchdowns left Jets fans buzzing about the upcoming season.
2. WR Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike Wallace was quietly one of the best and most consistent of the rookie wide receivers, as he recorded at least one reception in 15 games, and at least two in 14 games.
Wallace caught 39 passes for 756 yards and 4 touchdowns. Without Ben Roethlisberger for four to six games, and the reports that the Steelers will be running the ball more, Wallace may not have much room to grow as a receiver this season.
1. LB Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins
The former Texas Longhorn, Brian Orakpo, led all rookies in sacks last season, taking the quarterback down 11 times, and making 33 tackles to go along with them.
With the Redskins making the transition to the 3-4 defense, Orakpo will still have the edge in pass-rushing, but his coverage skills can and will be exploited in 2010.