10 NFL Players Ready to Emerge as Elite in 2014

10 NFL Players Ready to Emerge as Elite in 2014

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Each year the word elite is thrown around with very little meaning. Most people believe that elite means that they are one of the top players on his respective team. To me, though, the word elite means that a player is a ether a top-five or top-10 player at his position. Here are 10 players that can make that jump in 2014.

10. DE Ziggy Anash, Detroit Lions

Ziggy Anash, Detriot Lions
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

10. DE Ziggy Anash, Detroit Lions

Ziggy Anash, Detriot Lions
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ziggy has all the raw talent in the world to become a great pass rusher in this league. He is extremely athletic and plays along side some of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. This should allow him to play at a high level and put up elite pass rushing numbers.

9. DT Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets

Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

9. DT Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets

Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Richardson was a force last year in Rex Ryan’s defense and 2014 should be no different. He has excellent strength and speed that allows Ryan to do a lot with him in his scheme. A second year playing at the same level means that he enters elite status as a defensive lineman.

8. TE Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

8. TE Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Allen missed 15 games last year with a hip injury and still managed to make an impact in the one game that he played in. He will be a major part of the Colts offense going forward. He is an excellent blocker, and with Andrew Luck as his quarterback, he should put up great numbers too.

7. G Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Phillies

Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

7. G Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Phillies

Evan Mathis, Philadelphia Eagles
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mathis is one of the best guards in the NFL and he is a perfect fit for Chip Kelly’s run-based offense. Interior linemen usually don’t get the same recognition that other lineman do but when the offensive scheme is run heavy, guard play can be very important. Mathis should be mentioned with as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL.

6. RB Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati bengals
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

6. RB Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals

Giovanni Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL is now a pass-heavy league and Giovanni Bernard should fit that role very nicely in 2014. He was splitting carries in 2013,but this year he should make a true break into the top tier of running backs. He is excellent in space, and with a full season under his belt, he should be good to carry a full workload. Add that to the fact that Hue Jackson is planning on making his scheme run-heavy the opportunity is there to make the jump to elite.

5. LB Jamie Collins, New England Patriots

Jamie Collins, New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

5. LB Jamie Collins, New England Patriots

Jamie Collins, New England Patriots
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Collins became a major factor late last year and the more he saw the field the bigger impact he made on the game. Bill Belichick is going to turn the athletic linebacker into a superstar this year. He brings a lot of athleticism tot he table and that gives Belichick a scheme advantage over other offensive coordinators.

4. WR Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers

Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

4. WR Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers

Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The second-year wide receiver should become a big time player in 2014. The one thing that makes Allen elite is his route running ability. He is able to create separation easily and it allows Phillip Rivers to have an easy target downfield. Allen is looking to improve his speed in the offseason and that should allow him to become an impact player in the NFL.

3. S Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints

Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

3. S Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints

Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Vaccaro is a perfect fit for the Rob Ryan blitz heavy defense. He is an excellent tackler and times his blitzes perfectly. Ryan can trust him in the open field and the addition of free safety Jarius Byrd should allow him to play more freely and closer to the line of scrimmage.

2. LB Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. LB Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

David is going to become a superstar this year in the NFL. He is already one of the most impactful players on his team, but this year his game should be taken to the next level thanks to the addition of head coach Lovie Smith. David is a perfect fit for the cover-two defense that Smith runs. With the combination of his speed and the scheme that his team is using David is in the perfect spot to become a superstar in this league.

1. QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

1. QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Some people feel that Luck is already an elite quarterback in the NFL, but some feel that he throws too many interceptions to be considered to be elite. This is the year that he ends those questions. His tape shows that he is an elite quarterback. Combine that with great offensive weapons getting healthy this year, Luck should have the numbers to back up the elite tape. He will finally be mentioned in the same breathe as Manning and Rodgers.

Christopher Pimentel is a writer for RantSports.com.  Follow him on Twitter, or add him to your network on Google.


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