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, Week 8, Midseason Team, Week 10, Week 11.
Without further ado, here is the list of players making the leap in Week 12:
Guiding the Eagles to the pole position in the NFC East, Foles is averaging nearly 13 yards per attempt since returning from his Week 7 concussion. He's been so productive that his 104.3 passer rating against the Washington Redskins was his second-lowest of the season.
NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell stated this week that Glennon is "so far more advanced" as an NFL quarterback than Robert Griffin III that "they shouldn't even be in the same discussion." If the 2013 NFL Draft were held today, Glennon likely would be the first quarterback off the board after outplaying EJ Manuel and Geno Smith.
Already the NFL's leading tackler before Geno Atkins' season-ending knee injury, Burfict has raised the level of his game over the past two weeks. It's not just that Burfict is a beast in stuffing the run, but he's also been among the league's best in pass coverage over the past month. He's become the heart and soul of Mike Zimmer's defense.4. Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills linebacker
I can't kill Geno Smith for his disastrous Week 11 performance. He was playing against 11 maniacs in Buffalo. Every time the Bills take the field, they have an advantage with two of the most freakish athletes in Alonso and Mario Williams.
Mathieu is listed as the starting free safety, but he plays 70 percent of his snaps at cornerback. Among all cornerbacks, the rookie is first in quarterback pressures and third in run stops. If you appreciate quality sports writing, do yourself a favor and read Charles P. Pierce's recent feature article on Mathieu.
The Jets are allowing 60 fewer rushing yards per game this year than last, in large part due to the emergence of "Snacks" Harrison and the drafting of Richardson. "He's a beast," one scout said of Richardson to the New York Daily News. "There's no question that if he improves his work habits, he'll be a special player. Football means something to him. He loves it."
A fourth-round draft pick in 2012, Daniels has emerged as the Packers' most effective pass rusher this season. He's averaging one pressure (hurry, knockdown or sack) every 15 snaps, which is the same rate as Cullen Jenkins' best season in Green Bay. "I'll tell you what: Daniels is having a heck of a year," a personnel executive told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week. "He is a premier player."
The Raiders' "poor man's Jeff Garcia" description sold McGloin short. The former Penn State walk-on didn't give the coaching staff a choice at quarterback, throwing darts all over the field and showing better pocket presence and command of the offense than one would expect from an undrafted rookie.
Watch list: Julius Thomas, Eddie Lacy, Zac Stacy, Giovani Bernard, Le'Veon Bell, Andre Ellington, Bobby Rainey, Chris Ivory, Dontari Poe, Michael Floyd, Jarrett Boykin, Josh Gordon, Tavon Austin, Kendall Wright, T.Y. Hilton, Ladarius Green, Charles Clay, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Cameron Heyward, Junior Galette, DeMario Davis, Jon Bostic, Alterraun Verner, Brandon Boykin, Eric Reid, Johnathan Cyprien, Lane Johnson, Larry Warford, Kyle Long, D.J. Fluker