1.) Doug Martin (RB), Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In his past two years at Boise State, Martin gained over 1,200 yards on the ground and tallied 47 touchdowns. Martin will play a one two punch combination along with LeGarrette Blount, but Martin will take the majority of the workload. NFL experts around the board have given rave revues of Martin and he has the support of a new coaching staff under Greg Schiano that puts a high emphasis on maintaining ball control.
2.) Golden Tate (WR), Seattle Seahawks
In his third year out of Notre Dame, Tate has established himself as the number two target in Seattle, alongside Sidney Rice. With newly crowned starting quarterback Russell Wilson taking the helm, he will need go-to receivers to make his rookie season a success. Tate has speed over Rice, with a 4.42 40-time compared to Rice’s 4.51, which can definitely come into play this season.
3.) Alex Smith (QB), San Francisco 49ers
It’s not often you would consider a former number one draft pick a “sleeper,” but Smith has recently enjoyed success at San Francisco. Following the firing of Mike Singletary and hiring of Jim Harbaugh at head coach, Smith flourished. Many don’t believe Smith is a good enough quarterback to lead this Super Bowl contending team, but Smith put up career-bests in nearly every statistical category last season.
4.) Coby Fleener (TE), Indianapolis Colts
Taken 34th overall in the draft, Fleener rejoins his college quarterback and roommate, Andrew Luck. Tight ends have always been considered as quarterback’s “security blankets,” and the familiarity with Fleener will only elevate Fleener’s potential to have a big season. Luck will primarily be throwing in the direction of veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, but Fleener will always be there ready for a big play.
5.) Defense, Seattle Seahawks
Though most casual NFL fans couldn’t name more than one player on the defensive side of the ball in Seattle, the Seahawks have one of the league’s more formidable defenses. The Seahawks ranked in the Top 10 last season in total yards per game allowed, first round draft pick Bruce Irvin is poised for a big season and could give Seattle even more of a chance to break into the elite defenses.