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.

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

  • Nick619chargers4life

    Keenan Allen lol HA !

    • Erik Lambert

      Don’t jinx yourself, Nick.

      • Nick619chargers4life

        Lol never !!!!!

    • David A Maupin

      I think Keenan could be at risk to take a step back. We will see.

      • Nick619chargers4life

        I don’t think one of the best WR’s to come out of college in years is going to take a step back , he knows what he needs to do , and with Floyd returning and a smarter VB to take the heat off him he will only get better . He knows teams will try to do what they can to slow him down , but we have many more weapons in the fold this season then we did last in regards to pass catchers . Teams can’t just focus on one guy or the chargers will burn them with another. It should be really fun to watch . But like you said , we shall see .

  • Don Andrew Halvorson

    You forgot every running back. Stacy, Lacy, Bernard will all take a step back. Also, I don’t think Keenan Allen is at risk.

    • Erik Lambert

      Receivers are more at mercy to other factors than running backs are. They need their quarterback to play well so they can play well. Never mind the typical risks like injury and what not. I considered the running backs. Lacy is playing with Rodgers so he’ll be fine. Stacy will have a better line in front of him than a year ago. Bernard should see more touches. So basically all threat are poised for better years unless they get hurt. Allen is at the mercy of Rivers AND just lost his offensive coordinator.

      • Don Andrew Halvorson

        Lacy only really had good numbers in a few games. Against the Ravens when Jones and Cobb went out, against the Vikings when it went 5 quarters, against the Bears when Rodgers went down, and against the Cowboys in that comeback game. What I see there is a lot of play time with a lot of Packers injuries, so I’m not seeing a thousand yard, double digit touchdown season when he isn’t getting twenty carries a game. Especially when Bakhtiari takes a step back, as you suggest.

        The other two, I can see them losing a lot of carries to their rookie teammates. Tre Mason might snake the starting job out from under Zac Stacy by mid-season because Stacy didn’t look like the starter all season, he just got hot at the end of the year. Gio Bernard losing the job to Jeremy Hill could also happen considering how small Gio is. He’s built like a third down back, and he could be just that.

    • millerforrest

      Lacy a step back? ONLY if Rodgers is hurt for more than 7 games! The defenses will NOT be able to play 8 or 9 men in the box when Rodgers is under center. Figure it out!