Second-year breakout candidates

Zach Ertz among 10 second-year players who could make the jump

Updated: May 19, 2014, 11:56 AM ET
By Field Yates | ESPN Insider

Zach ErtzAP Photo/Matt RourkeZach Ertz could have a big season in Chip Kelly's offense in Philadelphia.

With the 2014 NFL draft in the rearview mirror, the focus now shifts to how incoming rookies can help their teams. But often we overlook player development for second-year players during this time of the year.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has long been an advocate of the idea that players have the opportunity to make significant strides between their first and second pro seasons.

"That's where a lot of players, I'd say almost all players make a big jump -- whether that is reflective in their status on the field, that's another question," he said of first-to-second year development. "But just from a development as a football player, that second year is a big year. It's a great opportunity for them to take that first-year knowledge that they don't have as a rookie and be able to apply it in their job now."

So while Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have analyzed the 32 draft classes for 2014, it's critical not to forget the increased impact of second-year players this upcoming season.

Here are 10 primed to make a leap come September:

Dion Jordan, OLB, Miami Dolphins

Miami needs the athletic freak Jordan to play a larger role this season, which would be helped by moving him around the defense to tap into his movement skills. He can play in space, rush the passer off the edge and has the length to disrupt the pocket even when he doesn't get a clean rush. Jordan will benefit from a full and healthy offseason, as he was coming off of shoulder surgery when he was drafted. His hybrid skills should allow defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle to get creative with Jordan, the third pick in last year's draft who they traded up to select.

Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.