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.
This week's graduate is New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson, teaming with fellow 2013 graduate Damon Harrison and 2012 graduate Muhammad Wilkerson to form the most imposing defensive line in the NFL.
Our first seven graduates are Harrison Smith, Jordan Cameron, Cameron Jordan, Jurrell Casey, Harrison, Richardson and Alshon Jeffery, 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, Week 12.
Without further ado, here is the list of players making the leap in Week 13:
Glennon completed 62 of 88 passes (70.5 percent) for 785 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception for a 119.7 passer rating en route to Offensive Rookie of the Month honors for November. Glennon, the first rookie in NFL history to throw one touchdown pass in his first eight games, is saving his head coach's job.
Despite a rough start that included a two-game suspension and swirling trade rumors, Gordon is on pace to shatter the Browns' franchise record for receiving yards in a season. A pure deep threat as a rookie, Gordon put up a sterling all-around performance in breaking Ozzie Newsome's franchise record for the finest single-game receiving performance in Browns history. The most impressive part is that he's performing at a high level no matter who starts at quarterback.
The Rams have finally discovered how to get the ball in Austin's hands in space, and it's paying off handsomely. Austin averaged 75.3 yards per touchdown in November, the highest by a rookie in one calendar month in NFL history. ... Floyd is fourth in the NFL in receiving yards over the past three weeks, becoming the first Cardinals receiver in two years to post back-to-back 100-yard games.
With their All-Pro leaders injured, Burfict and Jones have kept their respective defenses intact by raising the level of their own play. ... A safety in base personnel and a cornerback in the more prominent nickel and dime packages, Mathieu is fourth among all defensive backs in ProFootballFocus' ratings. As a third-round rookie, he leads all cornerbacks in tackles and quarterback hurries.
Three major reasons for Philip Rivers' renaissance and potential career year. On pace for 73 receptions and nearly 1,100 yards, Allen has easily been the NFL's best rookie receiver. Green is emerging as one of the NFL's most dangerous big-play tight ends, as evidenced by this 60-yard catch-and-run against the Chiefs. Woodhead is threatening to upstage Darren Sproles as the most effective passing-down back in the league.
Cold list: Geno Smith, Case Keenum, Terrelle Pryor, Manti Te'o, Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, Stephen Hill, Chris Givens, DeAndre Hopkins, Vincent Brown, Rishard Matthews, Barkevious Mingo, Dee Milliner, Darius Slay, Marcus Cooper, Chris Conte, Peter Konz, Brian Winters
Watch list: Nick Foles, Matt McGloin, Eddie Lacy, Zac Stacy, Giovani Bernard, Andre Ellington, Dennis Johnson, Danny Woodhead, Kendall Wright, Julian Edelman, Cordarrelle Patterson, T.Y. Hilton, Justin Hunter, Rod Streater, Tim Wright, Star Lotulelei, Kawann Short, Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton, Mike Daniels, Akiem Hicks, Junior Galette, Alterraun Verner, Xavier Rhodes, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Johnathan Cyprien, D.J. Swearinger, Joseph Barksdale