By Tyler McMullen @Direct_Snap on July 26, 2014
Indianapolis has been the class of the AFC South during the Andrew Luck era and will look to continue that trend in 2014. The team is led by their young and talented quarterback, but make no mistake, he is not the only talented player to watch in 2014.
Here are the top 10 Indianapolis players to watch in 2014.
Dwayne Allen is returning from injury in 2014 and will look to create quite a nasty tight end duo with fellow TE Coby Fleener. Allen put together a fantastic rookie campaign in 2012, collecting 45 receptions for 521 yards (11.6 avg) and three touchdowns in 16 starts. Allen certainly has the look of a complete tight end, but he will need to stay healthy for this offense to be something special.
Trent Richardson was a disappointment in 2013 after being traded to Indianapolis from the Cleveland Browns for a first-round pick. Richardson went on to rush for 458 yards and three touchdowns on 157 carries. He managed a disgraceful 2.9 yard-per-carry average and struggled to assert himself as the team's top rusher. Richardson is in much better shape heading into 2014 and will look to regain his Heisman Trophy form.
How could you not love a player like Jerrell Freeman? The third-year linebacker followed up a great rookie campaign with an even better sophomore season, collecting 126 total tackles (83 solo), 5.5 sacks, six passes defensed, two interceptions and an astounding six forced fumbles. Entering his third season in the league, Freeman is looking to make himself a household name.
Jack Mewhort was one of Indianapolis' best picks this offseason and could pay dividends immediately for this young and talented offense. Mewhort has the ability to play both guard and tackle, giving Indianapolis flexibility along their offensive line. Look for Mewhort to work his way into the starting lineup during training camp this season and help solidify the offensive line in Indianapolis.
Arthur Jones has been one of the NFL's best 3-4 defensive ends and comes to Indianapolis after a stellar four-year tenure with the Baltimore Ravens. In 2013, Jones collected 53 tackles (28 solo) and four sacks in 14 games (13 starts). Jones is reunited with head coach and former Baltimore defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis and will likely become one of the team's best leaders along a young and inexperienced defensive line.
Perhaps the best draft pick Indianapolis was able to bring in this offseason, Donte Moncrief will be an immediate contributor as a No. 3 and No. 4 receiver. The former Ole Miss Rebel has a great red zone body to him and will learn how to run proper routes from one of the greatest route runners in the history of the game, Reggie Wayne. Look for Moncrief to make some plays in 2014.
Robert Mathis is coming off a career-year in which he collected 59 total tackles (44 solo), one safety, one pass defensed, eight forced fumbles and an astounding 19.5 sacks, a career-high. The king of the strip-sack, Mathis will look to continue his dominance in 2014 and continue to add to his already promising Hall of Fame worthy career. Look for Mathis to hit the 15 sack mark again in 2014.
Hakeem Nicks has been one of the league's best weapons from the receiver position, but cannot seem to stay healthy. Over his five-year career, he has yet to play all 16 games in a season and has only played in 15 games two times over that time frame. He will, however, add a nice spark as a No. 2 option for Indianapolis and will surely boost this offense's firepower. Wayne, Nicks, Hilton and Moncrief sounds like an explosive stable of receivers.
D'Qwell Jackson has quietly been one of the NFL's most disruptive inside linebackers, but has not received the credit he deserves due to where he has spent the majority of his career. Jackson spent seven seasons playing for the Cleveland Browns and collected 824 total tackles (530 solo), 11.5 sacks, 28 passes defensed, eight interceptions, one touchdown and five forced fumbles over that time. He is going to add some leadership to this team.
Honestly, could it have been anyone else to top this list? Andrew Luck has been the best player wearing an Indianapolis uniform during his two-year tenure with the team and will look to take his game to an elite level in 2014 after a stellar 2013 season, where he completed 343-of-570 attempts (60.2 pct) for 3,822 yards, 23 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He now has a plethora of weapons surrounding him; he should make the leap to elite.
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