DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans: Don't give me any crap for this pick, I think DeAndre Hopkins can be a playmaking receiver for the Texans. Look, I love Andre Johnson, but he's entering Year 11. Moreover, Hopkins brings more promise of big plays than did Kevin Walter last year, meaning offensive coordinator Rick Dennison will get him the ball.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals: I'll be watching this kid a lot in the preseason. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was serviceable last season, and put together some nice games during the Bengals streak of winning seven of eight games. Gio Bernard was the first back off the board in the NFL Draft at 37th overall, which should tell you something about his abilities. In our NFL.com mock draft, I was able to land Bernard in the 15th round.
Montee Ball, RB, Denver Broncos: Pardon the pun, but it should be a two-horse race in Denver's backfield between Montee Ball and Knowshon Moreno. The Broncos know what they have in Moreno. If these guys are even in camp, Ball will be the starter based on upside and youth.
Rob Housler, TE, Arizona Cardinals: Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians is going to incorporate the tight end. Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener combined for 71 catches last year. Heath Miller caught 76 balls with Arians in 2009. Housler managed 45 receptions last year. Expect that number to go up.
Bryce Brown, RB, Philadelphia Eagles: Another running back worth watching is Bryce Brown. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly likes to use more than one RB in the rotation. This guy was extremely explosive when he got his chance in 2012, putting up 178 yards versus the Panthers followed by 169 in Dallas.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns: Being an older player already, Weeden knows and appreciates the opportunity in front of him better than a 23-year old, second-year player. Having Norv Turner on board as OC, along with a young supporting cast developing with him (Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon, Greg Little), Weeden is primed to have a nice season.
|The favorite to start for the Denver Broncos, Montee Ball has all kinds of fantasy potential this year. (Eric Bakke/Associated Press)|
Joseph Randle, RB, Dallas Cowboys: If DeMarco Murray has proven anything, it's an inability to stay healthy. Enter Joseph Randle who, without Felix Jones in town, will own the number two slot on the depth chart. Don't freak out if you hear he misses any time prior to training camp ... it's for a thumb injury, meaning he just won't be able to play Star Wars Battlefront on Playstation.
Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay Packers: Between Franklin and Lacy, I would rank the former UCLA standout higher. Lacy has trouble staying healthy. Another reason for Franklin getting some run is the fact that Aaron Rodgers was sacked 51 times last year. The Packers know they need to run the football. Hello, Johnathan Franklin.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers D/ST: Tampa Bay's defense was awful versus the pass last season. Then GM Mark Domenik went out and signed Dashon Goldson and traded for Darrelle Revis. That should greatly help an absentee pass rush that's had only 50 sacks in the last two years combined. Seven of the starters on the Tampa Bay defense are former first- or second-round picks.
Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.