Published: April 14, 2017 at 10:04 a.m.
Updated: April 17, 2017 at 10:39 a.m.

Joey Bosa, Tyreek Hill among players most likely to suffer sophomore slump


Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Joey Bosa set the tone for all rookies in 2016. Elliott was the league's rushing champion with 1,631 yards, while Prescott received Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after posting a 104.9 passer rating. Following a holdout, Bosa racked up double-digit sacks in just 12 games and won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

Although a number of rookies had breakout campaigns in 2016, it's unlikely they'll all be able to repeat their first-season success in Year 2. So, who is most likely to suffer a sophomore slump?

How does Ezekiel Elliott match what he did last year?
Ezekiel Elliott set the bar so incredibly high as a rookie that it'll be hard for him to match it this season. A year later, teams can dissect what Dallas' favorite schemes are and figure out how to play against quarterback Dak Prescott, which in turn will affect how Elliott is used. Zeke will still be a good player and get 1,000 rushing yards, but I don't think he'll lead the league in rushing or have the kind of impact he did in Year 1.
Targets will go down for Sterling Shepard with Brandon Marshall and OBJ on the field
Sterling Shepard had just under 700 receiving yards and eight touchdowns as a rookie. I initially thought he would have a chance at putting up 1,000 yards in Year 2, but with Brandon Marshall now in the mix, it's going to be really hard to get three players 1,000 receiving yards.

Shepard's a good player and Eli Manning relies a lot on slot receivers. I think Shepard probably will play better than he did in Year 1 because there will be less pressure on him, but the numbers won't necessarily show it.
Chargers' Joey Bosa will garner much more attention
I'll admit it: I underestimated Joey Bosa. He missed camp and several games, but because of his motor and relentless playing style, he surprised me last season. If you have 10.5 sacks in your rookie season, you're not a secret anymore.

It's incredibly hard to sack a quarterback. That's why guys are so ecstatic when they finally get one. You can get a lot of hits, but quarterbacks are so quick to get the ball out. If you're a known pass rusher, you will get more attention. It's going to be tough for him to duplicate last year's season because teams will start to scheme against him.
Tyreek Hill won't see the end zone quite as much as he did in Year 1
The Chiefs used Tyreek Hill in the run, passing and return games during his rookie season, and he racked up 12 total touchdowns in the process. I think teams will pay more attention to the way Kansas City uses him. When he's in the backfield, the play is probably going to him, so teams can jump on him earlier. It's also likely that teams avoid Hill in the return game. I know I would. Hard to imagine this kid scoring a dozen more touchdowns in Year 2.
There aren't enough footballs to go around to all of Eli Manning's weapons
With Brandon Marshall now lining up opposite Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants' offense has more mouths to feed. I think Sterling Shepard will have a downward slope in terms of production this season. Big Blue also could make more of a commitment to the run game by taking a back in the draft later this month. There just aren't enough footballs to go around.

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