It's far too early to judge an NFL player based off of their first season, but many fans and pundits often forget this.
Many have already labeled a handful of the top 2017 draft picks as busts, believing teams will forever regret the players they selected. However, let's remember that the likes of John Elway, Peyton Manning and Antonio Brown didn't exactly have great rookie seasons. It's just too early to go that route with some of last year's draft selections.
But on the flip side, some people get a little too excited about a player shining in his rookie year. Take recent Rookie of the Year winners like Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford, Aldon Smith, Shawn Merriman, Vince Young and Percy Harvin. See? A great rookie year doesn't mean you're going to have a phenomenal NFL career. Not even close.
When we take a look at how the 2017 rookies fared, you'll see a handful of them made immediate impacts. This included New Orleans Saints stars Marshon Lattimore and Alvin Kamara, who won DPOY and OPOY awards, respectively. Deshaun Watson and Leonard Fournette also had excellent rookie seasons, but can all these guys really take it to another level, or was it simply beginners luck?
The 2018 NFL season will be home to some breakout campaigns from second-year players, while others will struggle to build off the success of their first seasons. Here are 10 NFL sophomores that will break out in 2018, and 10 that will actually regress.
20 Regress: Deshaun Watson
This isn't to say that Deshaun Watson won't morph into a franchise quarterback for Houston, but the pace he was playing at in 2017 was ridiculous, before he went down with a torn ACL halfway through the season.
In just seven games, Watson had 1,699 yards, 19 passing touchdowns, 269 rushing yards and two rushing scores.
Defenses were in the early stages of scouting Watson and learning how to play against him, and now they'll be slightly more prepared for the dual threat quarterback this time around.
Watson will be a great quarterback for years to come, but ease down your expectations a bit. There's no way he can sustain his 2017 production throughout an entire season. It's just not going to happen.
19 Break Out: Tre'Davious White
The Bills drafted White with the 27th pick last year, and he turned in one of the better rookie seasons in 2017. White racked up 69 tackles, 18 pass deflections and four interceptions, but bigger things are in store for the LSU product.
White received an excellent 92.0 grade from Pro Football Focus, but the 23-year-old is just getting started. He has one full season under his belt, and White should be able to take his game to another level in 2018.
The Bills have one of the most talented secondaries in the NFL right now, led by White and safety Micah Hyde. It helps that the AFC East is looking significantly weaker, so expect another big season from White.
18 Regress: Leonard Fournette
As Blake Bortles struggled to put it together, Leonard Fournette was the rock of the Jacksonville offense. He finished with 1,040 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, but let's hold off on the Fournette hype just a bit.
He's going to be a great running back, but the Jaguars are more focused on trying to develop Bortles now. His struggles throughout 2017 were well-documented, and Bortles' inability to close out games late were evident in their AFC Championship loss to the Patriots.
With Marqise Lee re-signed and wideout Donte Moncrief added to the roster, Jacksonville is going to try and help Bortles regain his 2015 form. Fournette will carry a big part of the offense, but he won't be asked to do as much.
17 Break Out: T.J. Watt
Drafted with the 30th pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers last year, T.J. Watt showed that he's more than just J.J.'s younger brother. The Wisconsin product had 54 tackles and seven sacks in his rookie season, earning a respectable 78.4 grade from Pro Football Focus.
But we know Watt is capable of growing even more in 2018.
With star linebacker Ryan Shazier ruled out for all of this upcoming season, more will be asked of Watt - who could emerge as the on-field general for this defense.
The Steelers defense took a major step back late in the season and in the playoffs, but with Watt on the verge of breaking out, they won't need to worry about regression.
16 Regress: Evan Engram
Evan Engram was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise miserable New York Giants 2017 season. The 6-foot-3 tight end caught 64 passes for 722 yards and six touchdowns in his rookie year, but that was because Eli Manning didn't have many other options.
Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall missed most of the season, while Sterling Shepard also missed time. But with Beckham and Shepard back for 2018, Engram's role in the passing game will take a step back.
On top of that, New York drafted Saquon Barkley with the second pick in this year's draft, which means they'll be looking to throw the ball significantly less. That means less targets and catches for Engram.
15 Break Out: Derek Barnett
Barnett helped the Philadelphia Eagles clinch their very first Super Bowl title when he recovered Brandon Graham's strip sack of Tom Brady in the final minutes, but don't think that one play will define his entire career.
With Vinny Curry getting released in the offseason, the Eagles will now turn towards Barnett to generate more pressure off the edge. He had five sacks and one forced fumble in 2017, but Barnett is capable of doing much more under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. The Eagles defense was an elite unit in 2017, but it's bound to get even better. Barnett will play a massive role in that next year.
14 Regress: Marshon Lattimore
Make no mistake, Marshon Lattimore is going to be a great cornerback for years to come, but it's a bit risky to believe the 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year will sustain that dominance in his second season.
Lattimore earned a 90.5 grade from Pro Football Focus last season, but it helped that he didn't have to face many elite receivers. The NFC South is home to some of the game's top wideouts, and with the Saints schedule, he'll also have to cover Antonio Brown, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr., Adam Thielen, Brandin Cooks, Alshon Jeffery and A.J. Green next year.
Those are the best of the very best in the game. Lattimore will find his second year a little more challenging, so don't expect him to be as dominant in 2018.
13 Break Out: Mike Williams
Drafted with the seventh pick by the Chargers in 2017, Mike Williams' rookie season was hampered by injuries. In 10 games, he finished with 11 receptions for 95 yards and no touchdowns, but Williams is bound to be much better in 2018.
With Hunter Henry tearing his ACL (he'll miss all of 2018), Philip Rivers' best receiving options are Keenan Allen and Williams. The latter will certainly have an increased role this season, and Chargers coaches know they have to make the most of his talents.
There's a reason the Chargers made him the 7th overall pick, even though receiver wasn't their biggest need.
They see a lot in Williams, and he'll have a memorable sophomore campaign this season.
12 Regress: O.J. Howard
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got solid production from 6-foot-6 tight end O.J. Howard last season, but he faces a major challenge in getting better next season. For one, starting quarterback Jameis Winston will miss the first three games after being suspended for an alleged groping incident.
On top of that, the Buccaneers will be looking to use fellow tight end Cameron Brate more in the passing game. He caught 48 passes for 591 yards and six touchdowns last year, so the Buccaneers will use Brate as their top red zone threat.
The Buccaneers are hoping Howard can take a leap forward next season, but it's actually more likely that he takes a step back.
11 Break Out: Jamal Adams
The New York Jets desperately needed to find themselves some help in the secondary, and rookie Jamal Adams provided just that in 2017. Named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team, Adams had 83 tackles two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. Now, just wait and see what he does in year two.
Adams also got plenty of help in the secondary, as the Jets landed cornerback Trumaine Johnson and linebacker Avery Williams. Now, the Jets won't be so easy to play against, and Adams should take that next leap forward as one of the top safeties in the game. Get excited, fans.
10 Regress: Tarik Cohen
The Chicago Bears got good production out of running back Tarik Cohen last season, but the Bears offense will be looking a whole lot different in 2018. That means Cohen will inevitably regress, in both the ground and pass-catching game.
Though Cohen had 370 rushing yards and 53 receptions for 353 yards, the Bears will rely more heavily on rising star running back, Jordan Howard.
On top of that, the passing game will be much better with the additions of Trey Burton, Allen Robinson and a hopefully healthy Kevin White.
Cohen will be the second down back in Chicago again, and you shouldn't expect him to get as many catches this time around.
9 Break Out: Corey Davis
There's a reason the Tennessee Titans drafted Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick in 2017. Don't let a frustrating rookie year from Davis make you think he'll be a bust. 2018 promises to be a big year for Davis and the entire Titans offense.
New head coach Mike Vrabel promises to be more aggressive. He'll unleash Marcus Mariota's full potential by letting the young quarterback develop more as a passer. No more running back by committee carrying the offense alone. It's time for the Titans to work on their passing game.
This means Mariota and Davis will get another kick at the can. Make sure you have the latter high on your fantasy list of potential sleepers. Big things await Davis.
8 Regress: Reuben Foster
Reuben Foster had a rookie season for the ages in 2017, racking up 72 tackles while earning a 90.7 grade from Pro Football Focus. The sky is the limit with this guy, but 2018 looks to be a bit of a down season for Foster, due to off-field issues that could pose as a distraction. While he seems to be in the clear for a suspension, it was still a lot of drama to deal with for one offseason.
But Foster had to spend plenty of the offseason working through the drama.
Foster will be a great player for many years to come, but this offseason's distractions could lead to a frustrating 2018 season.
7 Break Out: Dalvin Cook
After shining at Florida State, Dalvin Cook was selected with the 41st pick by the Minnesota Vikings. Just when he looked poised for a big rookie year, Cook tore his ACL in Week 4 of the 2017 season, and had to miss his team's illustrious run to the NFC Championship Game.
But not to worry, Dalvin Cook and fans. He's back and healthy and should be a huge part of the Minnesota offense in 2018.
Yes, the Vikings will use new quarterback Kirk Cousins in bunches, but head coach Mike Zimmer isn't one to abandon the ground game.
Cook will get his opportunities, and he should be considered a threat to rush for 1,000 yards. Buy the hype. A big second year is coming for Cook.
6 Regress: Kareem Hunt
Hunt took the NFL by storm in his rookie year, leading the NFL in rushing (1,327 yards), while catching 53 passes for 455 yards and racking up 11 total touchdowns. Nobody can forget Hunt's epic Week 1 performance against the Patriots, where he had 246 yards and three touchdowns.
Now, the pressure is on Hunt to build off his strong rookie year, but keep your expectations real. The Chiefs will be using 2017 first rounder Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, which means Andy Reid will transition towards a more pass-happy offense.
Kansas City won't use their running backs as much, and newcomer Sammy Watkins will surely take away some catches from Hunt. As such, expect the 2017 rushing leader to fall back to earth a tad.
5 Break Out: Mitchell Trubisky
The second overall pick from last year showed some promise, completing 59.4 percent of his passes for 2,193 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. Now, just watch and see Trubisky takes off, because all signs point to a monster sophomore year.
Jaguars standout receiver Allen Robinson, speedster Taylor Gabriel and Super Bowl LII hero Trey Burton were all added in the offseason. Trubisky will also get to work a hopefully healthy Kevin White - Chicago's first selection in 2015.
Trubisky has limitless resources around him, and new head coach Matt Nagy promises to help him take the next leap. It's going to be an exciting year for Bears fans, who haven't had a quarterback with this much talent in years.
4 Regress: Cooper Kupp
Rams quarterback Jared Goff showed the world why he was the first pick in 2016, guiding the team to its first playoff season since 2004. That was thanks in large part to a strong rookie season from receiver Cooper Kupp, who caught 62 passes for 869 yards and five touchdowns.
But Kupp is no longer Goff's top receiving option. Rather, that would be speedster Brandin Cooks - who was acquired in a trade with the Patriots.
Cooks registered his third consecutive 1,000-yard season and will instantly step in and become Goff's go-to guy.
And after missing four games in 2017, Robert Woods should get even better as he learns the Rams offense a little more. Look for Cupp to regress a bit, as Woods and Cooks become Goff's top receiving options.
3 Break Out: Myles Garrett
A high ankle sprain and concussion forced Myles Garrett - the first overall pick of 2017 - to miss six games. Nonetheless, he was able to total seven sacks, 28 total tackles and one pass defensed. If Garrett can stay healthy, he'll make the leap and instantly assert himself as one of the top pass-rushers in the game.
The 6-foot-5, 274-pound Garrett was made the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Browns for a reason. He's a generational talent, superb athlete and is nearly impossible to defend against. Garrett is going to be the franchise cornerstone for this Browns team, and 2018 will be his breakout season. Look for double-digit sacks.
2 Regress: Alvin Kamara
The 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year had such an epic first season, that you really can't help but think he won't come to the totals again. It's not to say Kamara won't be a superstar, but his 2017 campaign truly was legendary.
The Tennessee product had 728 rushing yards, 6.1 yards per carry, eight rushing touchdowns, 81 receptions, 826 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. He put up excellent numbers as a running back and pass-catcher, but how can Kamara possibly top those stats?
He won't. Kamara will play an integral part of the Saints offense in 2018, but don't expect him to be that off the charts awesome again. It's just too much to ask for.
1 Break Out: Patrick Mahomes
The Chiefs traded up to land Patrick Mahomes with the 10th pick last year. And how high are coaches on Mahomes? They traded away Alex Smith - who led the Chiefs to the playoffs in four of his five years as starter and was coming off the best statistical season of his career.
The hype on Mahomes is through the roof. He's an elite athlete, excellent passer and can also beat you with his legs. Mahomes is a near-complete quarterback with few flaws, and he's set up comfortably to dominate right away.
Besides being coached by Andy Reid, Mahomes has a beautiful set of playmakers: Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins. Is it crazy to say the Chiefs could have the best offense in 2018? Because it's shaping up to be like that. Mahomes will really take off in his second year.