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Sophomore Slump - Rookies Who Will Underperform in 2019

The NFL had a number of rookies that performed well last year. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley totaled over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Multiple wide receivers become fixtures in their team's offenses. There were even some rookie tight ends that were able to make some noise for their respective teams. However, it's unlikely that they're all able to repeat those performances and those are the guys we're looking at today.

Barkley won't be on this list. His ability to make big plays happen combined with playing in an offense that will rely on him heavily just make it too unlikely that he struggles. He may not put up 2,000 scrimmage yards again, but he'll still have plenty of work. Even if he won't, there will be more than one guy that does. So, if you're relying on these guys to be heavy contributors this year, you would be wise to look in another direction for help.

Today, we're looking at just three players that fall into the sophomores that will be hitting the walls, but there will likely be more than just these few. You never know who can be trusted with just one year of production under their belt.

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Phillip Lindsay (RB, DEN)

Phillip Lindsay is an amazing story and he's a solid player. However, it's just far too unlikely that he's able to repeat his production levels from last season. He finished the year with 1,037 rushing yards with an impressive 5.4 yards per carry. Lindsay also finished the year with 10 total touchdowns. He was extremely efficient, and it's just unrealistic to expect him to repeat those numbers.

One thing that won't be helping his cause is that there will be four guys in new spots on the offensive line when the season starts. Three players are becoming starters, including rookie guard Dalton Risner, and guard Ronald Leary is switching sides. It takes time for offensive line groups to mesh together, and that will make life more difficult for Lindsay. This group could come together quickly, but there is more evidence against that than four it.

Additionally, Lindsay will have to contend with fellow second-year running back Royce Freeman for touches. Freeman received 130 carries compared to the 192 for Lindsay. Those numbers should be much closer this year, and this offense doesn't figure to be good enough to support two RB2 caliber players. Unless Lindsay is able to overcome all of that, being drafted in the third and fourth round like he is now will likely turn out to be a reach.


Gus Edwards (RB, BAL)

Similar to Lindsay, Edwards was an extremely efficient runner last season as he averaged 5.2 yards per carry. He played in 11 games, and he started just six of them. However, he made the most of his 137 carries with 718 yards on the year. He and quarterback Lamar Jackson showed off some good chemistry in the option offense that they were running last year once Jackson took over, but it's unlikely he'll put up numbers even close to that next season.

One major reason is the Ravens added former New Orleans Saints' running back Mark Ingram who is a better runner and pass-catcher out of the backfield. He's also good in the red zone with 18 touchdowns over the last two seasons. In addition to Ingram, the Ravens drafted running back Justice Hill as a possible future at the position. The room is crowded, and Edwards doesn't do anything overly special to command those touches.

Edwards caught just two passes last season. Those numbers may go up if he gets more workload, but he's also not particularly adept in that area. He's not being drafted as a legitimate contributor for this upcoming season, and he shouldn't be. He's talented, but he was a late-season push guy that won't be doing anywhere near the amount of work that he did last season.


Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL)

Ridley had a great season last year with 64 catches for 821 yards. His role next year should only grow in an offense that sees him as the second major receiver threat behind All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones. Yet, he's on a list of guys that should regress next year? Yes, he is. Ridley started the year strong, and he finished with a decent year. However, he finished slowly as the year went on.

In the first four weeks of the season, he had already accumulated 32.2 percent of the yards he would finish with, and he had six of the 10 touchdowns he would finish with. If you take away the first game of the season where he finished with no catches or yards, that means that a third of his production for the entire season came in just a three-game span. Is he going to be able to change that efficiency for next year, or will he still be largely reliant on scoring touchdowns?

For one, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu remains an active part of this offense. Sanu finished with two more targets than Ridley last season, and he's a consistent target for quarterback Matt Ryan. Tight end Austin Hooper's role has grown every season. Also, that Jones guy that was mentioned before, he's pretty good too. Ridley is a solid player. However, he's being drafted as the 22nd wide receiver on the board, and there are more consistent options available in the same range.

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