Every second year NFL player desperately hopes to avoid two things: an injury and a sophomore slump.
Injuries are random, often flukey, and incredibly hard to predict, but breakout spots are not. These five players are in the perfect situation to have great seasons and claim their place among the best at their position.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Cox in the fourth round out of LSU, but unfortunately didn't see him on the field much his rookie season. Cox tore his ACL shortly after getting his first chance at NFL action and remained off the field his entire rookie season. However, in the brief time Cox was able to take the field, he flashed real potential with his sideline to sideline speed.
The former Tiger has since spent the last year rehabbing and looks ready to make an impact for a young Dallas defense. The Cowboys needs another quality linebacker to play alongside Micah Parsons, which gives Cox the perfect opportunity to step into that role.
Horn is another defensive player who had his promising rookie year cut short after a season ending injury. But unlike Jabril Cox, Horn was drafted with extremely high expectations as he was taken with the eighth overall pick in the draft. Horn was playing great man coverage and even got an interception in the first three games he played for the Carolina Panthers before getting injured.
Last season, following the injury to Horn, the Panthers traded for former Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore. Horn learned a lot from Gilmore and looks to use that knowledge and his athletic talents to become one of the best defensive backs in the league.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
St. Brown had a slow start to his first NFL season, averaging only 35 yards a game through the first ten weeks. However, in Week 13, something clicked between St. Brown and Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff. The two would create a strong connection over the last four games of the season, where Brown averaged 100 yards and a touchdown per contest.
An entire offseason of developing chemistry with his quarterback and improvements to the Lions offensive line puts St. Brown and Goff in a great position to build on the success they found at the end of last season. Simply put, Amon-Ra St. Brown is poised to show the NFL why his name belongs among the top receivers in the league.
Collins is another second-year wideout in a great spot to have a breakout season. Taken by the Houston Texans in the third round of the 2021 NFL draft, Collins is 6-foot-4 and a great athlete, which puts him in position to be the Texans go-to weapon when they need a big play.
Davis Mills, quarterback of the Texans, even said, "I don't think there's too many people out there who can play and jump with him," when talking about Collins. This clearly shows the strong quarterback-receiver trust between the two, and appears to signal that Mills will look to give Collins plenty of chances to become a star this season.
Trevor Lawrence was one of the most-hyped college players of this decade, with scouts even saying he was the next Peyton Manning. Aside from throwing a lot of interceptions in his rookie season and breaking the hearts of Colts fans, Lawrence did not look anything like Manning in his first season.
However, a new season brings new opportunities, and more importantly for Lawrence, it brings a new head coach.
There is no question that Urban Myer was a distraction to the Jaguars last season, and new head coach Doug Pederson looks to turn things around. That includes helping Lawrence become the player everyone thought he could be. Success is not a foreign concept to Pederson, who won a Super Bowl with the Eagles and even managed to make Carson Wentz look like an MVP in his sophomore season. Lawrence possesses the natural talent and now has a qualified NFL coach that hopes to guide him to a truly special second Season.
If he can do it with Wentz, turning Trevor Lawrence into a star should be a walk in the park.