Second-half breakout rookies
Which NFL rookies whom you haven't seen much of will emerge?
At the midway point of the season, people are already assessing whether teams had a good draft or not. I've even started looking at how the 2013 NFL draft will line up. And while it's obvious in some places where 2012 draft picks are going to work out -- ask the Colts -- there are many rookies who were drafted into situations where there wasn't an obvious void, and thus have to slowly build their résumés as they gain more reps and build trust with coaches.
In the last couple of seasons, we've seen great second-half performances by rookies to cement their status as rising young stars, after very little to show for the first half of the season. Carlos Dunlap, Rob Gronkowski, Robert Quinn, Richard Sherman, Titus Young, Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Houston and others used the second halves of their rookie seasons to really emerge over the last few years. Which rookies off to relatively slow starts could do the same in 2012? Here are some possibilities, on each side of the ball.
Remember before commenting: If you don't see a rookie who's had a good start here (say, Dwayne Allen), that's a compliment. These guys need to, and should, produce more.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
He has 26 catches for 250 yards, but the impact hasn't been there for a few reasons. Blackmon isn't on the same page with Blaine Gabbert; he has work to do as a route-runner, as his ability to create space and separate has been lacking; and Jacksonville is addicted to outs and digs, and Blackmon hasn't seen anything down the field. The No. 5 overall pick needs to play better, but he also needs some help.
To read more from Mel Kiper on second-half breakout rookies, you must be an ESPN Insider.
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