Emerging Stars: Eight NFL Players Who Will Make Their Names Known
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As we gear up for the start of the 2010 NFL season, let us take a look at some of the names that you may not have heard of, or have heard very little from.
This list is compiled of players that have not drawn the national spotlight just yet, but will appear poised to take it and thrive in the NFL. You may know some names, but go ahead and get familiar with all eight of these players.
You will be hearing a lot about them in the upcoming season.
Matt Moore, QB Carolina
Matt Moore showed his potential toward the end of the 2009 season.
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Anyone that saw how Matt Moore performed at the end of the season in his five starts knows that he has potential. Even though the Panthers drafted Jimmy Claussen and Tony Pike, the best option for the team is to begin the season with the more experienced Moore under the center.
He passed for 1,053 yards, eight touchdowns, and two interceptions in his seven games last season after Jake Delhomme couldn't make a play all season long.
Claussen may be the plan for the future, but Moore will break out and draw attention from other teams and fans.
Curtis Lofton, LB Atlanta
The intimidating Lofton quietly had one of the most productive seasons in the NFC at linebacker.
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Odds are that if you live outside of Atlanta and don't follow the Falcons, you haven't heard much of Lofton.
So let me get you up-to-date.
In just his second season in the NFL, Lofton led the Falcons defense with 133 tackles, also forcing two fumbles. He was good in pass coverage on tight ends, but could still use help in his rush.
After two good seasons, Lofton is ready to breakout and get the attention of Demarcus Ware and Brian Urlacher.
Devin Thomas, Washington WR
Thomas might finally have a standout season in 2010.
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Thomas has been a work-in-progress for the Redskins for two years now, and the team is expecting him to make a splash in 2010.
At 6'2", the athletic Thomas sits behind Santana Moss on the Redskins receiving corps, but should be competing with Joey Galloway and Malcolm Kelly for the second receiver spot. With the addition of Donovan McNabb, an improvement in the passing game could be just what Thomas and the Skins' receivers need.
If there is a receiver that will breakout like Miles Austin in 2009, Thomas should be the leading candidate.
Jordan Shipley, WR Cincinnati
Former college standout Shipley will fit in well as a slot receiver in Cincinnati.
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There could be more rookies on my list, but I think Shipley has the best shot at surprising the most people. While Bradford, Tebow, Matthews, and Suh get the hype, Colt McCoy's favorite target while at Texas has a chance to be a factor in Cincinnati.
He is in a situation in Cincinnati that has caused quite a stir, and yet be beneficial to him. With Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens drawing attention as big, physical receivers, Shipley fits the slot role perfectly for that offense.
In other words, the 6'0'', 190 receiver could be the Wes Welker of the Bengals.
Kyle Wilson, CB New York Jets
Wilson was selected in the first round by the blitz-happy Jets.
Wilson may be the only Jet that doesn't have too big of a problem with Darrell Revis' holdout.
The team's first round draft pick was selected to become a third cornerback behind Revis and Antonio Cromartie, mainly to bolster the secondary when the Jets bring the blitz. The Boise State alum has great cover and ball skills. He may be undersized, but makes up for it by locking down receivers.
If Revis isn't suited up for Week One, Wilson will be starting for the Jets. Otherwise he will be assured of the nickelback role, which doesn't mean the same thing in New York under Ryan.
With the Jets blitz, Wilson will have one-on-ones as well as chances to rush the QB, resulting in interceptions, deflections, and sacks.
Devin Aromashodu, WR Chicago
Aromashodu impressed toward the end of the season with the Bears.
On a young Bears receiving corps featuring Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, and Aromashodu, the latter is the least talked about but yet may become the best of the bunch. Hester has the speed but lacks crisp routes and great hands, Knox is average in everything, but Aromashodu is physical and possesses great hands and can run great routes.
In Aromashodu's final four games of the season, he caught 22 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns. This included a Monday night game when he torched the Vikings for 150 yards and a touchdown.
New offensive coordinator, Mike Martz loves his receivers and QB Jay Cutler can only go up after last season's woes.
If you had heard of him, it was probably because of his last name but Devin Aromashodu can join Thomas as the receiving breakout stars of 2010.
Kenny Phillips, SS, New York Giants
If Phillips can overcome injuries, he can be a star in the Giants secondary.
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Phillips is a member of a Giants defense that has added linebacker Keith Bulluck and is looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2009 season.
Just one of many players sidelined by injuries in 2009, the former Miami Hurricane had two interceptions in just two games before a knee injury sat him down for the remainder of the season. Now with the organization adding more emphasis to defense, it is time for Phillips to step up and lead the defense.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay
Finley can become one of Aaron Rodger's favorite targets in 2010.
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Big body, big hands, great athleticism. Jermichael Finley possesses all of these attributes, and that is why the Packers are so high on the third-year tight end.
Finley is possibly the most proven on this list, having caught 55 passes for 676 yards and five touchdowns last season, emerging as the starting tight end in Green Bay. However, he somehow did this without drawing national attention.
While he is a great receiving tight end, his blocking can still use improvement. Teams may be able to guess pass if he and backup Donald Lee are alternating between plays.
Finley is a game changer. Watch a Packer game this season, and this will be evident.