Six 2013 Rookies Poised to Take the Next Step
Some rookies in 2013 showed the potential to become next-level playmakers. Although we cannot claim that they will elevate to the elite ranks they could very well be, sooner than later. I have been following these players all throughout last season and for some, since their college days.
Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE Lions
At 6'6 and 270-lbs, Ziggy is a physically imposing and relentless pass-rusher with an appetite for quarterbacks (8 sacks in 2013). Still young and relatively raw, he will only get better as he continues to refine his skillset. With the departure of Willie Young to Chicago, look for the Lions to unleash him in 2014.
Terrance Williams, WR Cowboys
Several years ago, the Cowboys were one of few teams to boast two number one receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. With Miles Austin in severe decline, the Cowboys have found the younger and faster replacement. Already having shown great promise and rapport with Tony Romo, count on Williams to contribute in a big way.
Barkevious "KeKe" Mingo, OLB Browns
A freakish athlete with incredible explosiveness off the edge. Working with a lean 6'5 and 240-lb frame, he has plenty of room to grow into and get even stronger. With formers Jets and Bills defensive coordinator Mike Pettine in charge, expect "KeKe" to be plenty involved in his blitz-heavy hybrid defense.
Jordan Reed, TE Redskins
Compared to the former Packer Jermichael Finley, Jordan Reed is the far superior player. Uncommonly explosive in-and-out of breaks and versatile enough to line up anywhere in a formation, he will find plenty of holes in opposing defenses as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon draw the coverage.
Xavier Rhodes, CB Vikings
A physical specimen, Xavier Rhodes has all the tools to be an elite playmaker. He is very physical at the line of scrimmage and a top-notch tackler. Assuming that he continues to improve his coverage skills, look for him to follow the path of and potentially exceed predecessor Antoine Winfield. Rhodes will likely step into a starting role and thrive.
Giovani Bernard, RB Bengals
With a style similar to that of Ray Rice, he is an agile and elusive runningback with deceptive strength. Newly promoted offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, should be a godsend for Bernard. Jackson has a deep history of coaching runningbacks and employs a run-first offensive. Even the regularly-injured Darren McFadden had his best season under Jackson in Oakland. Bernard, who racked up 1209 yards in a back-up role, should see increased playing time as Benjarvus "the Law Firm" Green-Ellis could be relegated to goal-line duties.