The 2015 NFL season is approaching quickly, teams will attend training camp in the upcoming weeks, and teams will face off in preseason matchups. When looking at trends and current roster development, these several players have potential to have a breakout season in 2015.
1. Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
Johnny Manziel a.k.a Johnny Football has been America’s poster child for things quarterbacks should not do entering the league. Manziel was quickly criticized for his on and off the field decisions, including a rehab stint this past offseason. However, a clear mind, a new position battle, and a new mentor can make all of the difference.
Manziel is entering his second season in the thick of a position battle at the quarterback position. Although Brown’s head coach Mike Pettine already named Josh McCown as the team’s starter, don’t be too quick to kick the bucket on Manziel. Entering 2015, Manziel should have a clear mind (through his own decision to attend rehab), a new position battle with McCown, and a new mentor in John Gruden, as reported by Charlie Campbell of Walter Football.
But there is more to why Manziel will break into the top of the Brown’s depth chart this season. In 2014, Manziel was involved in running situations, almost comparable to what the Jets did with Tim Tebow in 2012 (which didn’t really work). Aside from running the ball on 1/3 of his snaps, Manziel was simply thrown into a rough position he wasn’t ready for.
If you recall, in week 13 of the 2014 season, Manziel was named a starter in the thick of a playoff race. Manziel was handed no easy task, an 8-4 Cincinnati Bengals team, and limited experience, only throwing the ball eight times prior to this game. Needless to say, Manziel completed only 10 of 18 passes, two of which were interceptions, Manziel did not have a fair chance to succeed in 2014, but with improved mindset could set him apart in 2015.
2. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
Indicative of the headline photo, Davante Adams has a vast skill set that has potential for a breakout 2015 season. Adams was drafted by Green Bay in the second round of last year’s draft out of Fresno State. Adams quickly landed the trust from the Packer’s quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, as he totaled five catches for 50 yards in Week 2 against the New York Jets. His season only progressed from here.
As the season progressed, so did Adams. In a week 12 game against the New England Patriots, a game that was referenced as a “possible Super Bowl matchup” (and it almost was), Adams had a career day, bringing in six receptions for 121 yards, his only 100+ receiving yards game of the year. Adams ended his rookie season with 38 receptions for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Even with Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson ahead of him on the depth chart, Adams brings great size, strength, and speed as the #3 receiver, and things look bright for Adams and one of the best aerial assaults in the game. Coupled with an “MVP caliber offseason”, dubbed by head coach Mike McCarthy, prepare for big things out of #17.
3. Darren McFadden
Darren McFadden can be regarded as a bust in the eyes of Oakland Raiders fans, but he is also entering a new environment with a new team, the Dallas Cowboys. McFadden has an extensive past of history that has set his NFL progression behind, however, McFadden has an unprecedented skill set that can fill the void in the Cowboys’ backfield after the departure of Demarco Murray.
McFadden was the 4th overall selection in the 2008 NFL draft, and hasn’t had the chance to live up to his high expectations. In his seven years with the Raiders, McFadden was able to only start about 75% of his games, mostly due to injuries. His 6’2″ frame is somewhat unheralded at the running position, if he can remain healthy he can have a prosperous season and break his previous rushing high of 1,157 yards.
Meanwhile, John Daly, an avid Cowboys fan made a bold prediction, stating “Darren McFadden is going roll. He is going to have over 2,000 yards is my prediction,” according to the Dallas Morning News. 2,000 yards may be a bit of a stretch seeing as though he will likely share time with Joseph Randle. McFadden will have to battle with Randle and the rest of the NFL before he breaks out in 2015.
4. Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney had his rookie campaign cut short due to a knee injury that required micro fracture surgery, and his progression this offseason has been listed as spectacular.
Clowney’s college career was nothing short of spectacular. Out of South Carolina, Clowney was known for blowing up backfields and terrorizing offensive lineman, qualities that got him drafted as the first overall selection in last year’s draft.
Paired with last year’s defensive MVP, JJ Watt, the Texan’s defensive ends could be the best duo in the league with a productive Clowney. Last season in his four appearances, Clowney racked up only five tackles, but expect a much more productive Clowney when he is healthy.
5. Deandre Hopkins
Deandre Hopkins was essentially Sammy Watkins’ predecessor in Clemson, where this 1-2 punch was one of the most dynamic duo’s in the NCAA. Last season, Hopkins was paired with former Texan Andre Johnson, who has essentially been the leading receiver for the past decade with the Texans. Now, the Texan’s front office and fans are putting their faith in Hopkins to carry the load at receiver with Johnson shipped to the Indianapolis Colts.
Last season, Hopkins took a huge step in his sophomore season, compiling 76 receptions for 1,210 yards, enough for the coaching staff to make him their #1 receiver. The Texans also brought in Brian Hoyer, who looks to be a more reliable quarterback than his time in Cleveland.
Either way, Hopkins posses a great threat to pass defenses around the league, and could be destined for another impressive season.