Sophomore Surge: Three NFL players that can take huge step forward in 2022


We’re well over a month removed from the 2022 NFL Draft and I’m already excited to see what some of the rookies from your favorite teams do this upcoming season. That being said, it got me thinking about last years class.

There’s plenty of names to choose from and that includes a quarterback in Trevor Lawrence. He is more than likely pegged as the leader for the sophomore class of NFL players that should and can take a major step forward. But what about some other players that get overlooked for a magnitude of reasons. Here are three players that I think can take a huge step in 2022:

Amari Rodgers, WR, Green Bay Packers

While some might say that Rodgers is buried on the depth chart due to the Packers signing Sammy Watkins and after drafting Christian Watson, I disagree. His rookie season was less than ideal but Rodgers has a serious chance to become a key contributor in an offense that needs a pass-catcher to emerge after the team traded away Davante Adams.

Replacing Adams isn’t an easy task but the opportunity presents itself for every receiver on the roster, including Rodgers. Throughout the early portions of mini-camps for the Packers, it’s been reported that Christian Watson has struggled with drops. Randall Cobb will turn 32 years old when the season begins and he’s coming off one of his least productive seasons of his career since his rookie year. Lastly, Sammy Watkins is on a cheap one-year deal but has also battled through injuries and is on his third team in three seasons.

There should be plenty of chances for Rodgers to emerge as a more productive second year player than his rookie season. He only played 103 offensive snaps as a rookie so he should automatically see an increased amount of playing time. The key is that he catches more passes thrown his way and that Matt LaFleur can find ways to get and keep Rodgers involved into the mix of the offense.

Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

As a rookie, Moore only played 45% of the offensive snaps (432 total snaps) and he still was somewhat productive with 54 receptions. The key is having him find the end zone more than just one time like he did last year.

The door opens for Moore to be heavily involved this upcoming season, especially during the early portion of the year. De’Andre Hopkins will be suspended the six weeks to start the season so the Cardinals could easily use him more than some might think.

Meanwhile, Moore now has a full-season under his belt. From learning the offense to getting in rhythm with quarterback Kyler Murray, there’s plenty of reason to believe in him and the ability to produce more. Time will tell but using Moore on pre-snap motions, jet sweeps and in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field could lead to plenty of success for this Cardinals offense.

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers took Joe Tryon with the last pick of the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft. They did so as they anticipated their defense to move forward without Jason Pierre-Paul. That’s exactly where they’re at now. JPP is out and Tryon is in for the Bucs.

In 2021, he only played 490 (49%) of the defensive snaps for the Bucs defense. While only being out there for half the time, he still outproduced JPP with 4 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. Keep in mind, that JPP played 601 defensive snaps (74%) last season.

If healthy, I’d expect Tryon to play closer to 80% of the Bucs defensive snaps, if not more and I’d certainly expect him to start more than 6 games. The pairing of Tryon and Barrett should lead to plenty of success and I’m under the assumption that this defense could reach the potential of being a nightmare to handle off the edge. Look for Tryon to take a significant leap in playing time and production during his second season in the NFL.

National Scout for Cover 1. Host of Cover 1 | The NFL Draft Podcast. NFL Draft Enthusiast. X's and O's. Heard on ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio.