Taking a look back at the 2017 NFL season, there were some rookies, last season, that made an impact to help their respective teams. Moving forward to the 2018 season, here are five players that could have a sophomore slump in 2018 and why:
DeShaun Watson is coming off a season that started good as he threw for 1,699 yards with 19 touchdowns. He also rushed for 269 yards with two touchdowns in seven games. Watson was diagnosed with a non-contact injury in practice on November 8, 2017, which turned out to be a season-ending torn ACL knee injury. The Houston Texans season went down the gutter not too long after he was hurt. With that injury it might be tough for him to perform at the same level he was performing at before, which could hinder his performance on the field.
Kareem Hunt is the next possible candidate for a sophomore slump in 2018. Hunt was a standout for the Kansas City Chiefs at running back. The Toledo standout led the NFL in rushing with 1,327 yards and he had eight touchdowns. Hunt started the 2017 season off hot as he had four 100-yard rushing games in the first four games. There are two reasons why Hunt could have a sophomore slump in 2018. First, he was not consistent enough in rushing yards and became more inconsistent in the latter half of the season with eight games not reaching 100 yards. The second reason is the Chiefs will have a young quarterback in Patrick Mahomes II, which could allow defenses to stack the box, making it more difficult for Hunt to find holes in the defenses.
The next player candidate is wide receiver Cooper Kupp from the Los Angeles Rams. Kupp had a solid season racking up 869 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Kupp turned out to be Jared Goff‘s go-to-receiver, having 62 receptions as he was targeted 95 times in the regular season. With the Rams adding Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots this offseason, it could cut down on the amount of targets that Kupp sees in 2018. Making Kupp prime for a slumping sophomore season. The second year pro could still be able to get five touchdowns this upcoming season, but his receptions will probably go down with the addition of Cooks.
Last season, Evan Engram had 64 receptions on 115 targets with 722 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Engram was able to benefit from the injuries the Giants suffered at wide receiver with the New York Giants losing both starting receivers for the season due to injury. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a fractured ankle that put him out and Brandon Marshall had an ankle injury. In 2018, the Giants will get the return of OBJ, which could limit the amount of targets that Engram will see in 2018. With that possibility in mind, it’s a good chance the former Ole Miss tight end’s numbers will dip from the 2017 stats.
DeShone Kizer was traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Green Bay Packers this offseason. Kizer will go from being a starting quarterback to a back up behind Aaron Rodgers in 2018. In 2017, Kizer threw for 2,894 passing yards, with 11 touchdowns, and had 22 interceptions. He also had a completion percentage of 53.6 percent. With all that said, it will be hard for him to repeat his numbers as he will only see the field if Rodgers has an injury this season. He could stand to benefit from learning a thing or two from such a cerebral athlete.
All five of these players are coming off solid rookie seasons. The sophomore slump is inevitable for some players, but the fact of the matter is player goes through lulls. They will all look to avoid a sophomore slump in 2018, except for Kizer as he will be buried on the bench. If they can overcome adjustments by the league to stop them, they could establish themselves as stars and maybe escort their teams to the playoffs.