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10 NFL Players Who Have Emerged As Stars

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10 NFL Players Who Have Emerged As Stars

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 NFL season may be a down year in terms of competition, but the players who have emerged this year have been exciting to watch. It is nice to see names other than Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Rob Gronkowski, and Peyton Manning dominating the box scores. The NFL might have a bright, star-studded future.

With all the injuries this season there have been more opportunities for other players to step up in roles they may have never had. Some players have simply enjoyed breakout years and have finally lived up to the hype that surrounded them at some point. There are also players who have been complete surprises and have come out of nowhere.

Within the new wave of young quarterbacks, Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, and Cam Newton, which ones have taken a step forward and gone beyond expectations? Is there also a new wave of young receivers making names for themselves? Can anyone compare to Calvin Johnson or does he possess skills no other receiver can match? With Rob Gronkowski out, is Jimmy Graham the only elite tight end left or is the youth not too far behind? It looks like there is a handful of players who can compete with the elite players.

Get excited about these players because they will be fun to watch for years to come. This presentation includes players who have surpassed expectations, reached their expected potential, or have downright dominated in this league. Let's take an in-depth look at which players have fulfilled these requirements and emerged as stars in the NFL.

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10. Jordy Nelson-Green Bay Packers

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Jordy Nelson has been a steady receiver his whole career, but this year he has emerged and taken a step forward. It’s too bad that Aaron Rodgers went down. Now, no one can get Nelson the ball. In seven weeks with Rodgers, Nelson caught 39 passes, averaged 93.7 yards a game and had seven touchdowns. In six weeks without Rodgers, he has 28 receptions, averaged 66 yards with no touchdowns. If he had Rodgers, his numbers would look significantly better. He deserves recognition and should be considered a star-receiver.

Stat Line: 13 Games Played, 67 Receptions, 1,046 yards, 7 TD

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9. Shane Vereen-New England Patriots

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One of Tom Brady’s favorite targets, Shane Vereen and his versatility is something special. It’s hard to remember he’s a running back considering his 40 receptions in just five games, and more than half of those receptions have gone for first downs. He’s a quick, explosive runner and has the ability to make plays by catching the ball short and down the field. There is no denying the emergence of Vereen, and he will only put up bigger numbers with Rob Gronkowski out.

Stat Line: 5 GP, 40 Rec, 373 yards, TD- Rushing: 38 Att, 186 yards (4.9 YPA), TD

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8. Jordan Cameron-Cleveland Browns

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

His production went down for a stretch of games, but Jordan Cameron has proven he can be an absolute beast. He doesn’t have the speed that Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham possess, but he’s a big target and has the ability to make explosive plays. For tight ends, he second only to Jimmy Graham in receptions and yards. This kid has emerged as a top tight end, and he could be much better if the Cleveland Browns can obtain a solid quarterback.

Stat Line: 13 GP, 72 Rec, 825 yards, 7 TD

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7. Julian Edelman-New England Patriots

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Julian Edelman is the next Wes Welker. He’s a small slot receiver who came out of nowhere and is able to put up big numbers. Forget the Danny Amendola to Welker comparison; Edelman has answered the call. He had a few games in which he wasn’t part of the offense, but Edelman is still sixth in the league in receptions and has seven more than he did in the first four years of his career combined. He also seems to make plays in clutch situations. Edelman is immensely underrated


Stat Line: 13 GP, 76 Rec, 775 yards, 5 TD

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6. Pierre Garcon-Washington Redskins

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Considering how RG III has played this season, it’s simply amazing that Pierre Garcon has been putting up huge numbers. We always knew he had the talent, but this is the year he finally emerges into the star he always had the potential to be. He’s also bailed out his QB with some incredible catches. Garcon is a big target with sure hands and knows how to make plays in the open field. He is currently third in receptions and fourth in the league with 491 YAC.

Stat Line: 13 GP, 89 Rec, 1,017 yards, 3 TD

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5. Cam Newton-Carolina Panthers

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton’s stats don’t jump out at you, but this guy is winning games. His game management and leadership skills have been phenomenal. He’s had some bad games, but given his receiving corps he has been terrific. Newton is finally making that leap and playing like a first-round pick. What’s most impressive is his patience in the pocket. He stays poised and doesn’t scramble at every sense of pressure anymore. When he gets into the open field his combination of speed and power is unbeatable.

Stat Line: 87.9 QB rating, 20 TD, 11 Int, Rushing: 88 Att, 495 yards, 6 TD

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4. Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh Steelers

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With Mike Wallace out of the picture for the Pittsburgh Steelers, we knew Antonio Brown was going to get targeted more often and be the No. 1 option. Brown has exceeded expectations and has emerged as a top wide receiver. The defense focuses in on Brown and he still makes huge plays. He has already surpassed the production Mike Wallace ever had. He seems to catch anything and everything. Brown is second in the league in receptions and ranks fourth in yards.

Stat Line: 13 GP, 90 Rec, 1,240 yards, 7 TD

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3. Russell Wilson-Seattle Seahawks

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Russell Wilson has emerged into the star he was projected to be. He’s not a surprise, but the poise he displays is most impressive. Out of the class of young QBs, Wilson is out-performing them all right now. He is efficient with only seven interceptions, reads the defense well, looks at all his options, and is a smart runner. He and Cam Newton have each matured and have been more discerning with their scrambling. His QB rating is fifth in the league, and he is third in yards per pass attempt.

Stat Line: 106.5 Rating, 23 TD, 7 Int, 2,871 yards

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2. Alshon Jeffery-Chicago Bears

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

What a jump Alshon Jeffery has made his sophomore season. He was a “nobody” in his first year in which he only played in 10 games with 24 receptions. This season he has tripled his production. This kid has an unbelievable set of hands and comes down with some remarkable catches. Single coverage, double teams, it doesn't matter, Jeffery will somehow make the grab. This guy has emerged from nowhere! He is currently seventh in the league in receptions and fifth in receiving yards.

Stat Line: 13 GP, 75 Rec, 1,193 yards, 6 TD
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1. Josh Gordon-Cleveland Browns

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Josh Gordon has all the tools he needs to be an elite receiver in the NFL. He’s got speed, length, strength, and good hands. The 19.7 yards per reception is simply staggering. The fact that he’s putting up huge numbers with Brandon Weeden or Jason Campell as his quarterback is an indication of how good this guy really is. He's a beast! He’s third in the league with a 517 YAC and first in receiving yards. Not bad considering he missed the first two games of the season.

Stat Line: 11 GP, 71 REC, 1,400 yards, 8 TD