Analysis

Dorial Green-Beckham heads receivers set for Year 2 breakout

When I was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2003, I was content being WR2 behind Randy Moss and didn't anticipate on becoming the team's top receiver while he was on the roster. However, opportunity presented itself in my sophomore season when Randy went down with a hamstring injury. Knowing I was about to become quarterback Daunte Culpepper's top target, I was nervous and felt anxiety. But there was one conversation with Randy that put my fear to rest.

Randy came up to me after getting treatment one day -- his hamstring wrapped up -- and said, "Listen, I'll be back in about six weeks. You better get everything you can in, because when I come back, I'm getting the ball."

Translation: I had a window of time to make a name for myself.

It was the most black-and-white conversation I had ever experienced with a mentor while in the NFL -- and it worked. I put up numbers at a fast rate. Not only did Daunte develop confidence in me, but Randy did, as well. When Randy recovered, I wasn't just this young guy catching the occasional ball. I was his complement -- Randy was comfortable in calling me that.

I finished with a career-high 1,006 yards in the 2004 season -- more than doubling the production from my rookie year. I was able to enjoy a breakout campaign because, prior to that year, I worked endlessly on all of my weaknesses. So when I suddenly became WR1 and was asked to run nearly every route in our playbook, I was ready to go. I believe that year essentially allowed me to play 11 seasons in the NFL.

Looking forward to the 2016, a number of talented wideouts are entering their second season on the field. Here are four wide receivers who I believe will break out in Year 2:

Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans

Year 1: 32 catches for 549 yards and four TDs in 16 games (five starts).

What excites me about Green-Beckham's rookie season is the fact that he averaged just over 17 yards per catch. With a healthy Marcus Mariota and another offseason to learn and gain confidence, he could put up 1,000 yards in his second season.

I still remember watching Green-Beckham at the NFL Scouting Combine, and that's when I realized how much of a freakish athlete he is. If he can build on his athletic ability, he's going to be an incredible player. He possesses a similar skill set to my former teammate Calvin Johnson. Calvin built on his talents and became a polished receiver -- learning every route in the book and how to condense his 6-foot-5 frame to run in the slot. Calvin added elements to his game and became one of the best wide receivers we've seen in recent memory. If Green-Beckham, who's also 6-foot-5, can dedicate himself to maximizing his skill set, I believe he can easily double his numbers from 2015. While fifth-round pick Tajae Sharpe apparently passed Green-Beckham on the depth chart in recent workouts, let's remember that it's June. DGB has plenty of time to reclaim his spot -- he just needs to take the initiative and stop relying solely on raw talent. If he does? Sky's the limit.

Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings

Year 1: 52 catches for 720 yards and four TDs in 13 games (nine starts).

After not playing in the first three games of his rookie season, Diggs compiled six receptions for 87 yards in his NFL debut. And he proceeded to shock everybody by averaging 105 yards per game in his first four outings. Diggs established himself as a threat, and the offseason addition of Laquon Treadwell will only help him in Year 2. Teddy Bridgewater has been criticized for not taking chances down the field in his first two seasons as the Vikings quarterback -- logging less than 450 passing attempts in both 2014 and 2015. But with Diggs, Treadwell and tight end Kyle Rudolph in the aerial attack, I think there will be more opportunities for these pass catchers to make plays -- with Diggs leading the way. I see him being around the 1,000-yard mark in 2016.

Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers

Year 1 (2014): 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine TDs in 16 games (15 starts).

Some may not consider Benjamin a sophomore receiver, but because of his knee injury in the 2015 preseason, this will be his second on-the-field season. He balled out as a rookie in 2014, and I'm looking forward to his healthy return. After seeing what Panthers quarterback Cam Newton accomplished without such a dominant receiver last season, I'm excited to see what happens with Benjamin back in the fold. Benjamin's had a lot of time to recover, learn and understand the subtleties of being an NFL receiver.

Benjamin already might have enjoyed a "breakout season" as a rookie, but I think he'll go from being a good, young wide receiver to one of the best in the game. After this season -- in which I think he'll tap dance around 1,300 or 1,400 yards -- he'll be in the conversation with Antonio Brown and Julio Jones.

Jaelen Strong, Houston Texans

Year 1 stats: 14 catches for 161 yards and three TDs in 10 games (one start).

I predict Strong will be Houston's forgotten hero of 2016. He's in a perfect situation as a WR3 behind DeAndre Hopkins -- who I recently said is the NFL's most valuable pass catcher -- and first-round draft pick Will Fuller. Strong will consistently face third- or fourth-string corners, and with his size (6-2, 217 pounds), he will tower over most nickel corners, giving him ample opportunity to make plays. I think he's going to rack up 300 or 400 yards in a hot streak during the middle of the season, giving him around 700 yards and six touchdowns by season's end.

Follow Nate Burleson on Twitter @Nate13Burleson.

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