NFL fans are always looking for their team’s young players to make huge progress every year. Too often, we focus on the improvement from Year 1 to Year 2. It make sense, obviously, because players shake off their rookie anxieties and are able to concentrate on playing the game they love, rather than playing catch-up with the adjustment to the pro game.
However, the jump from Year 2 to Year 3 can be just as drastic. Some positions take more than one year to adjust to in the NFL, and sometimes players just need that extra season to become more comfortable. Of course, not every player will improve year-to-year, but if they haven’t shown anything by their third season in the NFL, there could be trouble.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions player is most likely to take a Year 3 jump?
My answer: First, let’s look at the 2016 draft class that we’re talking about here:
- Taylor Decker
- A’Shawn Robinson
- Graham Glasgow
- Miles Killebrew
- Joe Dahl
- Jake Rudock
- Anthony Zettel
- Dwayne Washington
Of those choices, I think A’Shawn Robinson is most likely to make a Year 3 jump.
I didn’t go with Decker or Glasgow, because I think those players have already established themselves as solid NFL contributors. While I expect Decker to make a pretty big jump in 2018, that’s mostly because he was injured last year.
That leaves, really, Robinson and Zettel as the only two remaining realistic options. Miles Killebrew, Joe Dahl and Dwayne Washington are all on the roster bubble this year, and may not end up contributing at all with the Lions. While I expect Rudock to improve—and he’s already shown signs of it—hopefully, we’ll never see it during the regular season.
Ultimately I went with Robinson, because while he’s been solid through his first two seasons, he’s been far from spectacular. Under Matt Patricia’s new scheme, I think Robinson’s gap-eating style of play could really be valuable to the team. It probably won’t result in a ton of sacks or tackles for loss, but he could be an integral part in opening up pass rushing lanes for the linebackers’ and his value as a run defender will be key.