We know the guys who have a lot of hype behind them heading into the upcoming season — Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Percy Harvin and Doug Martin to name a few. But what about those guys we are forgetting about? What about the players we’ve already cast aside in our minds as non-factors?
Here are five players who in my opinion are being unfairly overlooked and have the potential to surprise everyone in 2013.
Carson Palmer, Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals — Palmer finished 10th the NFL in passing yards, tied Matt Schaub and Joe Flacco in touchdown passes and had a higher quarterback rating than Andrew Luck and Matthew Stafford — all while playing for the Raiders. He gets a fresh start in Arizona with a respectable defense at his back and one of the game’s best receivers in his huddle.
Chris Johnson, Running Back, Tennessee Titans — Johnson has missed one game during his five year career. He’s also never finished with less than 1047 rushing yards in a single season. The Titans made offensive line upgrades during the offseason and should have a healthy cast of receivers for defenses to focus on instead of just keying on CJ. Look for him to have an average season by his standards (1350 yards, nine touchdowns).
Brian Hartline, Wide Receiver, Miami Dolphins — Hartline cracked 1000 yards in 2012 as really the only option Ryan Tannehill had. He was only able to find the end zone once, however. I expect both of those numbers to increase in 2012 based on Tannehill’s progression and the addition of Mike Wallace, who is sure to draw extra attention in the secondary.
Jerrell Freeman, Linebacker, Indianapolis Colts — Freeman burst onto the scene in 2012 with 145 tackles in his first year in the league — good enough for 5th overall. Leader of the Indy defense, he is as dependable of a tackler as there is and should not have any trouble repeating his All-Pro caliber performance from a year ago.
Asante Samuel, Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons — the 32-year old Samuel just keeps on keepin’ on. He finished 5th in the NFL in passes defended with 19 and tied for seventh in interceptions with five despite missing a game in 2012. He’ll be a starter from day one in Atlanta this season and should perform at the same elite level he has since the day he entered the league.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JULY 14, 2013