Dec 15, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Kiko Alonso (50) warms up before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Sophomore Slump Candidates in 2014

It happens to a lot of player.  They have a great rookie NFL season and follow it up with a rough second year.  Who is in danger of that sophomore slump?

Sheldon Richardson – DE – New York Jets

The reigning Rookie of the Year overcame a lot of doubts in 2013 to help the New York Jets field one of the best defenses in the NFL.  He had over 70 tackles and 3.5 sacks without missing a single game.  Considering how much the Jets lean on the defense and the prospect of being on the field longer due to the turnover issues with Geno Smith, Richardson might not have the same impact for several reasons, one being adjustments by opponents and others being injuries.

Kiko Alonso – MLB – Buffalo Bills

Nobody saw Kiko Alonso coming last season.  A 2nd round pick from Oregon, experts knew about his talent but never expected him to pile up 159 tackles and intercept four passes.  Can he really be expected to duplicate that?  Like with Richardson health will be a concern but so will the loss of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who left to become head coach in Cleveland.  Alonso excelled in his system and now must try to do so in a new one.  It’s very hard for veterans to accomplish that feat, let alone a kid going into his second year.

Keenan Allen – WR – San Diego Chargers

Expectations were rather minimal for Keenan Allen when the San Diego Chargers got him in the NFL draft.  He was supposed to contribute behind the veterans, but soon injuries began to gut the Bolts depth chart.  Desperately in need of a reliable target, Allen came out of nowhere to become that guy for Philip Rivers, gashing defenses for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns.  So can he do it again with defenses having a full off-season to prepare, the spotlight squarely on him, and without offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt?  Tough call.

David Bakhtiari – OT – Green Bay Packers

After Bryan Bulaga went down, it’s hard to believe anybody in the NFL thought a mid round pick like David Bakhtiari could hold down the left tackle spot for the Green Bay Packers.  Well, he did.  The guy earned his spot and helped his team win their third-straight division title.  Unfortunately his life may get a bit harder.  Pass rushers have tape on him and the rest of the NFC North has good thing going for them up front with Ezekiel Ansah in Detroit, Jared Allen in Chicago and Anthony Barr teaming with Everson Griffen in Minnesota.  Baktiari will need more than surprise on his side in 2014.

Tags: Buffalo Bills Green Bay Packers New York Jets NFL San Diego Chargers

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