In a perfect world, a handful of second-year players on the Green Bay Packers roster will follow-up promising rookie seasons by establishing themselves as good to great players in 2015. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Davante Adams and Cory Linsley are three Packers poised to make that transition.
But what about the rest of the NFC North? Unfortunately, the Packers aren’t the only team with talented young players. Here are three second-year players who could become problems for the Packers in 2015.
The Vikings second-year quarterback is probably the most obvious selection here, so let’s cover him first. I could never figure out why Bridgewater fell so far in the draft. In a league where QBs like Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford command $100 million contracts, how can teams let a player like Bridgewater fall to the end of the first round?
Anyway, when Bridgewater took over last season, he showed why he might have been the steal of the draft. He completed 70 percent of his passes in each of his last four games and showed the mental makeup and intangibles of a five-year veteran. In 2015, Bridgewater should have Adrian Peterson, coming off a “bye” season, for a full year as well. Uh-oh.
Before his season was cut short by an injury, Barr racked up 70 tackles, four sacks, and a fumble return for a touchdown in overtime against Tampa Bay. In addition to having the perfect combination of size and speed to dominate a game, Barr is paired with one of the best defensive minds in the NFL in head coach Mike Zimmer.
As a defensive coordinator, Zimmer’s players rarely regressed. If that track record of developing defensive players holds up in Zimmer’s role as a head coach, Barr will be scary good.
Marquess Wilson, WR, Chicago
I’m going to cheat a bit and highlight Wilson even though he’s a third-year player. After showing flashes during his rookie season, Wilson broke his clavicle last training camp and never got on track. Some say Wilson could be on the roster bubble since he was drafted by the previous Bears’ management team. I say nonsense.
Wilson is 6-foot-4 and should get an opportunity to show what he can do now that Brandon Marshall is gone. If I’m right about Wilson, that’ll give the Bears three receivers (Alshon Jeffry, rookie Kevin White and Wilson) 6-foot-3 or taller. Combine those wideouts with 6-foot-6 TE Martellus Bennett and the Bears receiving corp will be tough to deal with, even for a Packers secondary with a basketball-playing background.
Let’s throw in a bonus category: Wild-card second-year player who could break out:
David Fales, QB, Chicago
What if John Fox and the Bears new coaching staff see Jay Cutler throw one too many backbreaking interceptions and find him a seat on the bench?
Fales would likely be Cutler’s replacement. Coming into a situation with Jeffry, White, Wilson and Bennett as your targets and Matt Forte in the backgroun isn’t a bad situation to come into. I’m not predicting we’ll see Fales play and play well in 2015, but stranger things have happened.
Here’s another bonus category: Second-year NFC North player who worries me the least:
Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit
He only caught 25 passes in his rookie campaign and dropped four. I don’t see Ebron as having the route-running skills to be an effective outside receiving threat and he’s not tough enough or sure-handed enough to consistently be a threat inside.
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .