Year after year there is a new rookie class which takes center stage. While the media has spent a lot of time focusing on the great quarterback play by the rookies, there is also a sophomore class who could become one of the greatest we’ve seen. Almost the entire first round has cracked the starting lineup, and the majority of those who are not starting now are currently injured. In many cases the players have improved in their second year rather than hitting a sophomore slump. Here is one interesting tidbit about a sophomore from each team. In most cases it is the first player picked, but for a few teams it’s the earliest picked player who is currently starting if the first pick is a backup or injured.
Buffalo Bills: In 2011, there were only four games during the season where Marcell Dareus had a sack. There have already been three games this season where Dareus has had one.
Miami Dolphins: Center Mike Pouncey has a Run Block Rating of +8.7, which is the highest among centers this year.
New England Patriots: There were only three games out of 19 where Nate Solder had a PFF overall rating above +2.0 in 2011. This year he has had a rating that high in three of six games.
New York Jets: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has 21 stops on the season, which is the second most for all defensive linemen this year.
Baltimore Ravens: Cornerback Jimmy Smith is tied for the second most penalties for defensive backs at five.
Cincinnati Bengals: The biggest improvement A.J. Green has had in his second year is an improved Catch Rate from 56.9 to 66.2. He had four drops in his first seven games in the pros, and just two drops in his past 15 games.
Cleveland Browns: Last year defensive end Jabaal Sheard made an immediate impact in the pass game with a Pass Rushing Productivity of 9.4. This year he has faced a sophomore slump, and it’s down to 5.3.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Marcus Gilbert is the only right tackle to have started every game so far and is yet to allow a sack.
Houston Texans: Defensive end J.J. Watt hasn’t just been the best 3-4 defensive in the league, his numbers are significantly better than anyone else. His Run Stop Percentage is 19.0% while the next highest is 12.3. His Pass Rushing Productivity is 12.2, while the next highest is 7.6.
Indianapolis Colts: While Anthony Castonzo has allowed at least two pressures in every game this year, he has held his opponents without a sack in four of five games.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has shown some signs of improvement in his second season. Last year his PFF QB Rating was 67.76 which was the second worst in the league. This year it’s up to 78.05, which is only the sixth worst.
Tennessee Titans: Quarterback Jake Locker has the fifth-highest Accuracy Percentage at 79.8, while teammate Matt Hasselbeck is at just 70.9.
Denver Broncos: Von Miller was dominate as a rookie, and has been even more so in his second season. His Pass Rushing Productivity has increased from 12.3 to 15.6, and his Run Stop Percentage has gone up from 6.2% to 9.7%.
Kansas City Chiefs: Last year Jonathan Baldwin was unable to find much success on mid-ranged passes (10-19 yards in the air). He caught just 8 of 20 balls thrown his way for 107 yards. This year he has been more successful in that range catching seven of eight balls thrown his way, also for 107 yards.
Oakland Raiders: Center Stefen Wisniewski has the ninth-highest Pass Blocking Efficiency at 98.6.
San Diego Chargers: There were only two games last year where Corey Liuget had two or more pressures. He has had two or more pressures in four of the past five games.
Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith initially struggled in his transition from right tackle to left tackle, but he has already shown improvement. Over the first three weeks he averaged allowing a pressure on 8.4% of his pass blocks. In the past two, he has allowed pressure on just 4.1% of his pass blocks.
New York Giants: In 2011 Prince Amukamara was allowing a 70.0% catch rate. This year he has allowed a 43.8% catch rate.
Philadelphia Eagles: Guard Danny Watkins has allowed 16 pressures this year, which is the second most among right guards this year.
Washington Redskins: Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan has 27 overall pressures this year, which is the second most among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Chicago Bears: Right tackle Gabe Carimi has allowed 24 pressures this year, which accounts for 38.7% of the pressure allowed by the Bears’ offense. On the other hand, his +9.5 Run Block rating is the best for right tackles.
Detroit Lions: Defensive tackle Nick Fairley has been surprisingly consistent in his pass rushing. He had pressure on 7.74% of his pass rushes in 2011, and 7.78% of his pass rushes in 2012.
Green Bay Packers: Wide Receiver Randall Cobb has the highest catch rate in the league at 82.9% after catching 29 of the 35 passes thrown his way.
Minnesota Vikings: Quarterback Christian Ponder had an Accuracy Percentage of 50.8% under pressure in 2011, and has raised that to 69.4% under pressure this year.
Atlanta Falcons: Prior to the year, people thought Julio Jones would be the No. 1 receiver and Roddy White the No. 2 after they had nearly identical Yards per Route Run in 2011. However, this year Jones has seen his numbers in that metric decrease from 2.10 to 1.67.
Carolina Panthers: Last year while Cam Newton had the second most deep passes at 89, he had an Accuracy Percentage of only 40.4% throwing deep. This year he is throwing deep only 3.8 times per game, but his Accuracy Percentage has increased to 57.9%.
New Orleans Saints: Defensive end Cameron Jordan is leading all 4-3 defensive ends in Run Stop Percentage at 10.5%.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: In 2011 the most stops Mason Foster had in a game was four. This year he already has two games with seven stops each.
Arizona Cardinals: Cornerback Patrick Peterson has allowed just a 43.2% catch rate, which is the second lowest for cornerbacks with at least 25 times being targeted.
St. Louis Rams: Defensive end Robert Quinn had a great game against Arizona with three sacks, two hits and six pressures. However, in his other five games he has three sacks, two hits and seven pressures.
San Francisco 49ers: In 2011 Aldon Smith led all 3-4 outside linebackers in Pass Rushing Productivity at 15.4. This year he ranks 15th out of 29 at 9.4.
Seattle Seahawks: Last year James Carpenter struggled at right tackle, and allowed a pressure on one in every 9.5 pass plays. This year he has moved to left guard and now allows a pressure on only one in every 18.8 pass plays.
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