The goal of our weekly "Making the Leap" watch is to highlight part-time players making the leap to difference-makers or unproven young talents ascending to key contributors. Once players have truly made the leap, they will graduate from this running list.
Our first five graduates are Harrison Smith, Jordan Cameron, Cameron Jordan, Jurrell Casey and Damon Harrison, all of whom have established themselves as Pro Bowl-caliber players. They've made the leap.Previous lists: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 prospects for Week 8.
In the first seven weeks of his Redskins career, Reed produced 25 more yards in a single game than two-time Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley ever managed in an outing over nine years. On Sunday's "Around The League Podcast," we made the comparison to Aaron Hernandez, a sentiment that ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski shares. Reed forms an exciting skill-player nucleus with Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon.
Is it crazy to posit that Jeffery is already on Brandon Marshall's level? Gregg Rosenthal and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell don't believe it is. Jeffery leads all NFL wide receivers in yards from scrimmage this season.
Just five receivers have more yards than Williams' 249 over the past three weeks. After a series of boneheaded mistakes in September, he's righted the ship and made Miles Austin a forgotten man in Dallas.
The entire country seemed to misinterpret Colts owner Jim Irsay's comments leading up to Peyton Manning's homecoming. A consistent message about producing a well-balanced team that can win with defense and special teams was ignored in favor of ginning up a Manning controversy. On the football field, Davis led a physical Colts secondary that succeeded in re-routing Manning's receivers. General manager Ryan Grigson's trade for Davis is paying dividends.
Teaming with improving cornerback Davon House and safety Morgan Burnett, Shields shut down the Browns' passing game last week. He's shown lockdown skills against A.J. Green, Torrey Smith and Josh Gordon this season.
Munnerlyn is following through on his bold offseason prediction that the Panthers can be the NFL's top defense. With Munnerlyn anchoring an unsung secondary, they rank in the top five in almost every important defensive category. Munnerlyn now has four career pick sixes, tying Mike Minter's franchise record. He hasn't allowed a single touchdown pass this season after surrendering only one in 2012.
DeCastro, the Steelers' first-round draft pick last year, dominated his one-on-one battles with the Ravens' front seven last week, paving the way for Bell to produce the best game by a Steelers running back in nearly a full calendar year. After a slow start, things are looking up for Pittsburgh's offense.
Cold list: Nick Foles, Brandon Weeden, Blaine Gabbert, Bernard Pierce, Lamar Miller, Ronnie Hillman, Bilal Powell, Tavon Austin, Eric Fisher, Peter Konz, Gino Gradkowski, Shea McClellin, Da'Quan Bowers.
Watch list: Geno Smith, Case Keenum, Justin Blackmon, Kiko Alonso, Alterraun Verner, Eric Reid, Junior Galette, Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short, Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox, Tyrann Mathieu, Giovani Bernard, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Kendall Wright, Kyle Long, Cordy Glenn, Chandler Jones, Malik Jackson, DeMario Davis, Jamari Lattimore, Corey Lemonier, Marcus Cooper, Davon House