2014 PFF All-Sophomore Team
Yesterday’s news to some, the 2013 NFL draft class has produced more than its fair share of impact players. These are the players brought in for their special talents who have started to get the feel of how the league works but are still developing their craft. Some will thrive and some will not which is the way of life in the NFL.
So while the rookies may get more attention, we’re not going to ignore those guys who are still in the early days of their NFL careers but impressing us. This brings us to the PFF 2014 All-Sophomore Team:
Quarterback: Mike Glennon (TB)
We’re not exactly starting this thing off with a bang. Glennon wins in because he simply was the least worst, with that to be expected in a class that has produced Geno Smith and EJ Manuel.
Running Back: Le’Veon Bell (PIT)
That’s more like it. Bell was a PFF First Team All-Pro with a stunning year that saw him making plays any time he got the ball in hand. Our top-ranked running back on the year, he’s developed into an every-down threat.
Fullback: Kyle Juszcyk (BAL)
A solid lead blocker with a knack for catching balls (only Marcel Reece caught more). He hasn’t developed into a Vonta Leach-type road grader yet but it was an encouraging first season of extensive action.
Tight End: Travis Kelce (KC)
Edging out Zach Ertz, the only thing that seemed to slow Kelce down was his playing time. He figures to be an even bigger weapon in Year 3.
Wide Receivers: DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) and Kenny Stills (NO)
Injuries slowed Keenan Allen and there really wasn’t any receiver who stood out in the slot. So these two picked themselves with Hopkins especially impressive in showing why he was a first-round pick not too long ago.
Tackles: Terron Armstead (NO) and Lane Johnson (PHI)
Tough luck for Ricky Wagner who was in contention for an All-Pro nomination until late season form and injury issues plagued him. That let the excellent Johnson in despite only playing 12 games. Left tackle was far less contentious with Armstead really the only possible choice. He’s not in the upper echelon of tackles but he’s looking like a good one.
Guards: Oday Aboushi (NYJ) and Kyle Long (CHI)
The improvement in Kyle Long was noticeable in pass pro with him edging out Larry Warford for this selection. Left guard was more about who not to pick with Aboushi doing a serviceable job after replacing Brian Winters and former first-rounder Jonathan Cooper still struggling to get on the field.
Center: Travis Frederick (DAL)
A beast of a run blocker, Frederick is a huge part why it looks so easy for the Cowboys offense at times. This was about as easy a choice as there was.
Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: Sheldon Richardson (NYJ) and Shariff Floyd (MIN)
Richardson had a monster rookie season, but didn’t get enough pressure for our liking. His second season saw him take a big step forward in that regard, becoming one of the best all-around defenders in the league. Floyd was almost as good himself on fewer snaps and most definitely is one to watch next year.
Defensive Interior – Nose: Johnathan Hankins (NYG)
How about Hankins? Did the Giants expect 700 snaps out of him? Who knows, but his ability to push the pocket and shed blocks meant he was an every-down threat.
Edge Rushers: Ezekiel Ansah (DET) and Barkevious Mingo (CLE)
Ansah is justifying the high draft pick, but you’d hope in years to come there might be a little more pressure and an increase in snaps. The selection of Mingo is an indication that this class has really yet to set the pass rushing world alight.
Linebackers: Jamie Collins (NE) and Jelani Jenkins (MIA)
It’s fair to say Collins has taken a huge leap this year, becoming one of the most intriguing weapons at linebacker in the league, capable of making plays all over the field. He’s the star, but former fourth-rounder Jenkins was impressive as well, particularly in the first half of the year.
Cornerbacks: Desmond Trufant (ATL) and Xavier Rhodes (MIN)
Again no slot corner here so it meant two from three for us, with the big decision being to leave out the impressive Darius Slay. Rhodes just got in over him with his work playing the ball (15 pass break-ups) with Trufant the nailed on selection after another strong year.
Safeties: T.J. McDonald (SL) and Eric Reid (SF)
The regression in Kenny Vaccaro and some underwhelming performances didn’t leave too many options here. The fiery McDonald has impressed even if he isn’t always the most consistent, while Reid took a step back from his rookie year, but not by so much as to allow others to supplant him for a spot in this team.
Kicker: Patrick Murray (TB)
A nice year from Murray going 20 of 23 to beat out Caleb Sturgis.
Punter: Sam Martin (DET)
One of the better punters in the league full stop, Martin is a strong kickoff leg as well.
Returners: Micah Hyde (GB) and Knile Davis (KC)
The dangerous Hyde picked up two punt return touchdowns, whereas Davis would handle the kickoffs with a strong 28.8 yard average.
Special Teamer: Josh Martin (KC)
The highest-graded special teamer on the year, Martin was extremely impressive, nearly doubling Adam Thielen in second spot (for the 2013 draft class).
See the other awards we’ve handed out this week:
2014 PFF All-Pro Team
2014 PFF All-Pro Special Teams
2014 PFF Stephenson Award (Best Player)
2014 PFF Offensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Matthews Award (Best Offensive Lineman)
2014 PFF O-Line Rankings
2014 PFF Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Offensive Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF All-Rookie Team
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