You don't have to be a first-round pick to become a star in this league. Rosters are filled with players who have earned accolades after initially being overlooked.
There are several players that look ready to take a similar step and emerge in 2010. None of them were first-round picks or have been to a Pro Bowl.
The 20 players in position to make a jump are listed in alphabetical order:
2. Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals, DE: He is a rare athlete and a guy that went from zero sacks to seven last season, four of which were half sacks. He also had five passes defensed at 6-foot-8. In talking with him about this article, he's so humble and focused on being great that he might be my lock to make it.
6. Thomas DeCoud, Atlanta Falcons, S: Had a conversation with DeCoud this week and this cool, calm athlete is ready for the big time. In 2009, his first season as a starter, he had 68 tackles, seven passes defensed, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Still, he feels he has plenty of work to do.
9. Shonn Greene, New York Jets, RB: The Jets let Thomas Jones go and traded away Leon Washington. LaDainian Tomlinson came on board, but Green is going to be the "bell cow" for a team that ran more than any other in the NFL a year ago. He averaged 5.0 yards a carry as a rookie but did fumble three times in 108 carries.
11. Tyrell Johnson, Minnesota Vikings, S: A 2008 second-round pick out of Arkansas State, he's still learning the pro game. He's an excellent athlete and plays on a defense that opposing teams don't even try to run on some weeks. That's a lot of pressure on the safeties to defend the pass. He had 57 tackles and seven passes defensed a season ago.
12. Terrance Knighton, Jacksonville Jaguars, DT: I was impressed with the 2009 third-round pick at camp last summer and he didn't disappoint as a rookie. He started 16 games and finished with 45 tackles and 1.5 sacks. After an offseason in the weight room, this 325-pound nose tackle will be a force inside.
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13. Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles, QB: It says a lot when a team trades a franchise quarterback to a division rival and hands the offense to someone who wasn't a first-round pick and has just two career starts. Coach Andy Reid likes to throw the ball, so look for Kolb to be up around 500 pass attempts. Both of his starts resulted in 300-yard passing games. While he won't keep up that pace, the numbers could add up with that many attempts.
16. DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions, LB: Another guy who will go unnoticed on a team without high expectations. The third-round pick from 2009 finished up with 85 tackles in 10 starts. In talking with coach Jim Schwartz several times about this young man, Levy's headed for big things this year, especially with a better defensive line in front of him.
18. Jerraud Powers, Indianapolis Colts, CB: The Colts have had to deal with injuries and players leaving in the secondary as the majority of their competition has to play from behind against them. That puts a lot of pressure on the corners and Powers came thru as a rookie with 66 tackles, 10 passes defensed and a pick. Not bad for a third-round selection.
19. Sebastian Vollmer, New England Patriots, OT: I first met Vollmer when he played in the NFL world junior championships as a member of the German team. He was just a big kid then, trying to learn an American game. He has come a long way in a short time, starting eight games as a rookie last seaosn and protecting Tom Brady's blindside. He could be on the verge of a Michael Roos-type career.
20. Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh Steelers, WR:Santonio Holmes is gone and Wallace is the answer. With an aging Hines Ward and an injured Limas Sweed, the time is right for Wallace to explode. He had 39 receptions for 756 yards and six touchdowns in his first season and might venture into the 75-reception range in 2010.