Open Rants by Seahawker

7 darkhorse sophomore breakout candidates.
Published at 6/24/2018
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QB: Nathan Peterman, Buffalo

With Tyrod Taylor gone, Peterman now has his best shot at making an impression on this team for coach Sean McDermott to even give any look toward Peterman for the future after drafting Josh Allen in the first round last April. Now, Allen may not get the starting nod right away because he's a rookie, so the Bills may look to the only Quarterback on the roster with any experience as a Bill which is Nathan Peterman, but if Peterman wants the starting job for a few games, he'll have to go through veteran AJ McCarron before reaching the top of the roster, which seems like a long-shot but that's why i labeled this 'dark-horse' breakouts, but if McCarron (who i must add does not have much experience as a starter in the NFL) doesn't go as planned, the Bills might lean on Peterman who looked good in a wild-card game against Jacksonville before Mr. Ramsey made a crazy play on the ball, to carry the team for a couple games before ultimately starting rookie Josh Allen for the remainder of the season. There's just about a %zero chance Peterman becomes the starter for the Bills barring any injuries, but just starting a few games or a couple games for the Bills, could give him a better shot at becoming a starter on another squad.

RB: D'Onta Foreman, Houston

Foreman, a former 3rd round pick could carve out a big role in the Texans rushing game in 2018, with Lamar Miller trending downwards, Foreman can become the front man or at least a solid #2 option behind Miller. Foreman displayed his playmaking ability at the University of Texas, compiling 2,028 rushing yards in 2016. Foreman was drafted to be the eventual successor to Miller, and i believe he can fill that role as soon as mid season this year, if he plays well enough to claim that spot. His rookie year in 2017, Foreman had 327 yards and a pair of td's in only 10 games because of an achilles injury that kept him out of the final 6 games of the season. D'Onta still has a long way to go before he becomes an every down back, but based on his rookie play, that feat may come sooner rather than later.

WR: DeDe Westbrook, Jacksonville

Westbrook showed why he was selected 2016 Big-12 Offensive Player of the Year, in the Preseason of his rookie year, but unfortunately, it didn't translate much into the regular season. With the emergence of fellow rookie Wide Receivers Keelan Cole and Jaydon Mickens, Westbrook was only able to amount to 27 receptions on the season and 1 touchdown. Westbrook lasted until the fourth round but had the talent to become a first rounder, if not for his off the field incidents. The Jags signed Donte Moncrief and re-signed Marqise Lee a long with drafting LSU product DJ Chark, so one would presume DeDe would be the #4 or #5 Wr on the team but with former number one receving threat Allen Robinson leaving house, Westbrook now has a chance to prove he's a reliable receiver for Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense. 2018 is an important year for the 6'0 wide receiver out of Oklahoma, in just his second season, he faces the threat of losing his roster spot that was almost guaranteed to him his first season.

OL: Julién Davenport, Houston   

Julién Davenport was taken in the fourth round of last year's draft, a tackle coming out of Bucknell, a small school in the Patriot League located about 250 mi. North of Harrisburg, PA. Davenport came out of college as a highly rated tackle, but as most small-school players do, he was questioned by most managers about his ability to perform well against other big time school players who would also be becoming pros as well. Davenport has not had a good chance yet to prove his doubters wrong but with the Texans losing both left and right tackles in a span of 6 months (Duane Brown, Derek Newton), Davenport has a good chance at becoming the next starting tackle at either side. This is a perfect alignment for Davenport as he already has the luxury of having a year of experience behind one of the best starting left tackles in the NFL. So the only reason i have Davenport down as a dark horse candidate is because you don't hear his name come up that often, and he was only a 4th-round pick. Davenport will have a big opportunity to gain the trust of the Texans organization, because he'll be protecting the team's franchise QB, Deshaun Watson.    

DL: Nazair Jones, Seattle

Out of the seven people i have list, Nazair Jones has probably the best chance to have a breakout season this year. At 6'5, 305 lbs. Jones has perfect size and strength to become a solid defensive playmaker this year and many years after. With most of the Seahawks defensive line out the door, Jones can slide right in at the number 2 or number 3 d-tackle behind Jarran Reed and Tom Johnson. Jones has potential to be the top defensive tackle in Seattle in the near future, with Jarran Reed not living up to the level of play he was supposed to be, and Johnson turning 34 in when the NFL season starts, the next man up would be Naz Jones, who looked good in his freshman season as a third round pick, in his first regular season game he intercepted Aaron Rodgers and took the other way for a would-be touchdown if not for horrible call on former Seahawk Jeremy Lane, he continued his hot start throughout the first month of the season, but injuries limited him to just 11 games. If he can stay healthy through the whole season and continues his play from 2017, he can carry the defense to the playoffs.

DB: Corn Elder, Carolina

Corn Elder went in to the 2017 draft with a mid-round draft grade, so far he hasn't played beyond that standard, barely showing up in the Panthers highly ranked defense. At best Elder could be solid nickel corner, but with a mix of players at the position, it's hard to tell who he'll be behind on the depth chart. The Panthers did draft two cornerbacks in this past draft, as it looks now the Panthers are stacked with talent at corner to fill the void Josh Norman left in 2016, as it stands the Panthers have LaDarius Gunter, last years starter James Bradberry, 10 year veteran Captain Munnerlyn, Elder, draftees Donte Jackson and Rashaan Gaulden, and travelman Ross Cockrell, and a number of mini-camp participants. If Elder wants to not only make this roster but have a chance to start, he'll have impress not only the coaches, but the general manager as well, the one who makes the decisions. Elder may never be more than a depth cornerback, unless he accomplishes great things in his sophomore year.

LB: Samson Ebukam, Los Angeles Rams

A native of my hometown Cheney, Washington, Ebukam went to the same college as fellow teammate Cooper Kupp: Eastern Washington University. Ebukam a 2016 All-American was a little known player leading up to the 2017 draft, but the Rams saw enough in him to select him in the fourth-round at number 125 overall. While mostly playing on special teams his first year in LA, Ebukam took the limited snaps he got and made the most out of them, earning himself two starts as a rookie, throughout 2017 he had 20 tackles, a forced fumble, and pair of sacks. Ebukam certainly has potential to be a starter for this team for a long time, especially on a team like the Rams where linebacker is there weak spot, Ebukam can be a devil for opposing offenses for the team from the City of Angels.

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