The NFL is months away, but there are already players that have started out on good notes. Here are 7 players that could have breakout seasons in 2014.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, Wide Receiver- James Jones left in free agency, opening up a chance at a bigger role for Randall Cobb. Cobb had an injury-plagued year in 2013 but, if he stays healthy, could have a Pro Bowl season and be a top-10 receiver. Aaron Rodgers also comes back from an injury, which also helps. Jordy Nelson and Cobb could challenge Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall as the best duo in the NFC North or even the NFL.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions, Quarterback- Stafford has already put up great numbers, but the addition of new coach Jim Caldwell should inflate those numbers even more. Caldwell has traditionally led pass happy offenses and will bring his philosophy from Indianapolis and Baltimore. Stafford has the best skill players of any team, including Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush, Mikel Leshoure, Joique Bell, Eric Ebron, and Brandon Pettigrew.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots, Running Back- Bill Belicheck has chosen a different running back every year as a feature back. The list includes BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, and LeGarrette Blount. Shane Vereen could be next. Vereen has been injured for the past few years but could get a boost in carries this year. Belicheck has made this team one of the best rushing teams in the NFL and will give either Vereen or Brandon Bolden a bigger role.
Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans, Wide Receiver- Like Stafford, Kendall Wright will benefit from a new system. Ken Whisenhunt, who led the Chargers last year, is very pass-friendly and developed Keenan Allen last year. Wright is the most talented receiver in this corps and should take targets away from Nate Washington and Justin Hunter. If quarterback Jake Locker stays healthy, Wright could have a 1,000 yard year.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears, Quarterback- After the emergence of receiver Alshon Jeffery and consistency of Brandon Marshall, the Bears now have the best receiver duo in the league. Jay Cutler was injured last year and Josh McCown had a career year filling in. In what could be his first year with Marc Trestman, Cutler could be a Pro Bowl quarterback.
Casey Hayward, Green Bay Packers, Cornerback- After a solid rookie campaign, Casey Hayward was a favorite to be a Pro Bowler last year. Instead, Hayward was knocked out with injury for the season. The pass rush was bolstered with the addition of Julius Peppers and the resigning of BJ Raji, so the pressure could give Hayward a greater chance of making big plays. Expect a 5 interception year with a Pro Bowl for the 3rd year corner.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans, Wide Receiver- Yes, the quarterback situation in Houston is not ideal, but the addition of new head coach Bill O'Brien will make for a more pass happy offense. Andre Johnson is on the decline, so 2nd year wideout DeAndre Hopkins should have a greater role in the new system. Hopkins can also be a difference-maker for the special teams unit as a returner.
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