Going from college to the NFL is a huge transition that doesn’t always go smoothly for some rookies. Adapting to the big stage of professional football can lead to some players not exactly meeting expectations. Players on this list either underperformed in their rookie year or actually did pretty well, but could still improve with more experience, signings their teams made and other factors. Let’s dive into my list of sophomores that are primed for big improvements this year, starting with the quarterbacks.
After trading up for the 2nd pick, the Bears selected QB Mitch Trubisky out of UNC to be their franchise QB of the future. When GM Ryan Pace made this selection, it was a developmental pick. Many didn’t expect Trubisky to get much playing time. But when you choose Mike Glennon as your bridge QB, things may not go as planned. Glennon was… not good. In 4 games he had 833 yards, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He was immediately benched, giving Trubisky the start. But Trubisky was also underwhelming, only putting up 2,200 yards, 7 touchdowns and the same number of interceptions. Trubisky showed flashes of his talent, but was very inconsistent. But I think it will be a very different story this year. In the 2017 campaign, Trubisky’s top 3 receivers were Josh Bellamy, Kendall Wright and Dontrelle Inman. It was an uninspiring group that would be hard to work with, with a rookie at the helm or a veteran. But the Bears were active in investing in weapons for Trubisky, signing former Jaguars WR Allen Robinson and former Falcon, Taylor Gabriel. They also acquired TE Trey Burton in free agency and selected WR Anthony Miller from Memphis with the 51st pick in the draft. This revamped offense should make Trubisky more comfortable and confident under center. Another reason Trubisky will improve is the hiring of Matt Nagy as head coach. The up-and-coming HC impressed on the Chiefs’ staff as a QB coach from 2013-2015 and the offensive coordinator for 16’ and 17’. He is respected around the league and is expected to improve Chicago’s schemes and game plan which was atrocious last year.
The 12th pick out of Clemson was nothing short of sensational for the Texans. After starting the season on the bench, he came in at halftime of Game 1 and tore it up. Through Week 7, he totaled 1,700, 19 TDs and only 8 interceptions. He did so well that, (according to SBNation) he ranked in the top 20 for most touchdown passes, while only playing 7 games. If he can recover well, I expect him to surpass the seemingly impossible standards he set last year. And reports out of Texans camp say he has been participating in OTA drills and that his knee “feels well” so there seems to be optimism about his health. The Texans also made many moves during the off-season, bringing in Seantrel Henderson, Senio Kelemete, and Zach Fulton to help their offensive line which was a weak spot last year. This could open up some opportunity for Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman to improve on their lackluster years, taking some pressure off Watson. Houston also claimed WR Sammie Coates to add to an already stacked WR corps. With Deandre Hopkins, who in my opinion is a top 3 WR, and a healthy Will Fuller, who can take the top off defenses, Watson will have a plethora of weapons to repeat last year’s success and even build on it.