Second Year Spotlight: NFC North

While fans are always anxious for rookie players to have big years, coaches, on the other hand, look for players in their second year to begin make big contributions. In their second year, players are feeling comfortable in the system and have the confidence to play at a high level. That said, here are some second year players who should begin to become regular contributors for their teams in 2015. Eric Ebron – TE – Detroit Lions When the Lions selected Ebron with the 10th overall selection of the 2014 Draft, a lot was expected. Because of his size and athleticism, he was going to be the guy who took pressure off Calvin Johnson. Instead it was free agent acquisition Golden Tate who came up big with 99 receptions. With a year under his belt in the system and knowing what is expected of him, I feel Ebron can be one of the top move tight ends in the NFL. His physical traits are rare, and there is no reason why he can’t become a focal point of the Detroit offense. Last year, he finished with only 25 receptions. He needs to more than double that total this year. Caraun Reid – DT – Detroit Lions The Lions lost Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly during free agency. While it was expected they would take an interior defensive lineman early in the draft, it wasn’t until the fourth round that they actually pulled the trigger on a player at that position when they chose Gabe Wright from Auburn. Yes, they signed former Baltimore Raven Haloti Ngata to play inside, but last year’s fifth round pick Caraun Reid needs to come on and I think he will. Reid was a dominant player at the Ivy League level, but it’s a big jump from the FCS Ivy League to the NFL. Reid got just spot duty in 2014. He has excellent overall athleticism, and I feel he can be the young guy who breaks out for the Lions this year. Davante Adams – WR – Green Bay Packers Adams flashed as a rookie and was starting to really come on towards the end of the 2014 season. Still, he finished the season with only 38 receptions for 446 yards and three touchdowns. Adams came from a fairly simple spread offense in college, and like many receivers, it takes some time to adjust to an NFL offense. He has the size, speed, and overall athleticism to eventually become a dominant receiver in the NFL. I look for that to start to happen this year. If he comes on as expected, he helps give Green Bay a receiving corps that is as good as any in the NFL. Scott Crichton – DE – Minnesota Vikings Crichton did not play much as a rookie. He finished the season with only two total tackles. In college, Scott was a high-motor playmaker who flashed dominating ability. Based purely on what I saw him do while at Oregon State, I feel Crichton can become an important part of the Vikings' defense in 2015. He has the physical tools, he just needs to remain healthy and play to his talent level. While he may not be a starter, he can play an important role in the defensive line rotation. Kyle Fuller – DC – Chicago Bears Fuller earned a starting role while in training camp and began the season very strong. He had three interceptions in the first three games and made a number of other big plays. He then suffered a hand injury and like the rest of the Chicago defense, disappeared. From a traits viewpoint, Fuller has ideal corner size, speed and athleticism. He also has long arms, can tackle and has excellent ball skills. Playing in a new 3-4 scheme, Fuller needs to revert back to his early season form. If that happens, he will be one of the better corners in the NFC North. Ego Ferguson – DT – Chicago Bears As a rookie, Ferguson was a role player for the Bears and actually played fairly well in limited opportunities. This year, playing in a new scheme, a lot more is expected of him, and I feel he will come up big. In the Bears' new scheme, Ferguson will most likely be playing both as a nose and a 5-technique. He has the length, strength, and overall power to be a very good NFL defensive lineman. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme fits Ferguson's traits very well. While I don’t expect Ferguson to be a starter, I feel he will play 50% of the defensive snaps playing in a rotation and put up some good numbers. He will be a presence in the Bears' defense as both a run defender and inside pass rusher. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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