Rookies and Sophomores Ready to Break Out

Highly respected for his NFL knowledge and NFL Draft prospect insight, Chris Steuber has joined the Scout NFL team. Watch for more features from Chris at your favorite team site and at Today he shares his thoughts on the NFL rookies and sophomores who are poised for a breakout season.

The Sophomores

(Getty Images)
1. Jerious Norwood, RB - Atlanta Falcons (3rd round, 79th overall)
One of the biggest surprises last year was the steady play of Norwood, and the element of excitement he brought to the field for the Falcons. Norwood finished with 99 carries for 633 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season. He averaged an astounding 6.4 yards per carry. Norwood has excellent hands and showed a lot of promise in the passing game. With Michael Vick dealing with his legal troubles, and Warrick Dunn out with a bad back, the Falcons will rely on Norwood as their lead back.

2. Brodrick Bunkley, DT - Philadelphia Eagles (1st round, 14th overall)
One of the biggest disappointments of the 2006 draft class, Bunkley enters 2007 with a new attitude and something to prove. Bunkley is a very good player, but he has to improve his work ethic and technique to be a dominant player at the NFL level. With a new year comes a clean slate and no one will benefit more with having a fresh start than Bunkley.

3. Demetrius Williams, WR - Baltimore Ravens (4th round, 111th overall)
Williams showed a lot of promise last year with the Ravens after recording 22 receptions for 396 yards and two touchdowns. Heading into this season, Williams finds himself third on the depth chart behind Mark Clayton and Derrick Mason. If Williams has a consistent camp, he could find himself competing for a starting job.

4. Mathias Kiwanuka, OLB - New York Giants (1st round, 32nd overall)
A standout defensive end at Boston College, Kiwanuka had some ups and downs during his rookie campaign with the Giants. He totaled four sacks and two interceptions last season at defensive end, but with the Giants in need of a strongside linebacker, Kiwanuka will be forced to play standing up. Kiwanuka is an outstanding athlete who can drop back in coverage and should excel as a linebacker.

5. Maurice Stovall, WR - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3rd round, 90th overall)
The Buccaneers were happy with the play of Stovall towards the end of last season and he looks to build on his late success. Stovall has a big frame (6-foot-5, 225-pounds) and features great hands and good speed. He gives the Bucs offense a deep threat and a player who can make tough catches over the middle. Stovall will compete with Michael Clayton for the other starting spot opposite Joey Galloway.

The Rookies

(Getty Images)
1. Calvin Johnson, WR - Detroit Lions (1st round, 2nd overall)
Johnson is a once-in-a-decade receiver who possesses great size, speed, athleticism, poise and leadership qualities. He will be paired with Pro-Bowl receiver Roy Williams and sure-handed slot man Mike Furrey. Johnson will benefit from having Williams on his opposite side, because Williams gets a lot of attention. That will free up the Lions' top draft pick for one-on-one opportunities, and when Johnson takes advantage of that situation, teams won't have an answer for Detroit's offense.

2. Adrian Peterson, RB - Minnesota Vikings (1st round, 7th overall)
Peterson has all the tools to become one of the best running backs in the NFL. He's an aggressive runner with great skills. With Chester Taylor already in Minnesota's backfield, Peterson will have to platoon with him during his rookie season. But if Peterson learns the playbook quickly, he will get more playing time as the season goes on.

3. LaRon Landry, S - Washington Redskins (1st round, 5th overall)
Landry is a physical defender with a knack for being around the ball. He will add a lot of determination and excellent leadership qualities to the Redksins defense. The selection of Landry is huge for Washington since Landry will be paired with Sean Taylor. Taylor has a world of talent, but he's been inconsistent at times. Landry's presence will make Taylor a better player -- and hopefully a better person on and off the field.

4. Aaron Ross, CB - New York Giants (1st round, 20th overall)
The Giants had to be thrilled to see Ross on the board at the 20th selection in the first round. The former Texas Longhorn is exactly what the Giants needed on defense. Ross provides the Giants with an excellent cover man who doesn't shy away from contact, and he replaces Chad Morton as the team's return man. If Ross is used to his full capacity, he will be a star in New York.

5. Ted Ginn, Jr., WR/KR - Miami Dolphins (1st round, 9th overall)
This year's Devin Hester, Ginn -- if healthy -- provides the Dolphins with a multi-dimensional star on offense and special teams. Ginn has world-class speed and the ability to break free from the opposition. He's still developing his game as a receiver, but when the opposition has to kick the ball and Ginn is under it, it's must see TV.

The former publisher of, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. He's also covered the NFL Draft for the Eagles' official website,

Scout NFL Network Top Stories