15 NFL sophomores with Pro Bowl potential
In the first of a three-part series, Player’s View jumps head first into the 2012 NFL season to look at 15 second-year players that have the talent and the opportunity to lift themselves into the league’s elite class.
Some will cut it and reach the Pro Bowl and some won’t and will either settle for being simply “ok” or will fall off completely.
Let’s take a look at the bottom third as we work our way to Sunday’s final five.
#15 Akeem Dent- Atlanta Falcons
When Dent was drafted out of Georgia, no one felt that he was there to take then MLB Curtis Lofton’s job.
That feeling could not have been more wrong. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff snatched him out of the third round of the 2011 draft as the team’s safety net against Lofton’s’ departure.
“Curtis was a fine football player and we knew there was a legitimate chance he would not be with us this year when we drafted Akeem last year,’’ general manager Thomas Dimitroff told ESPN. “We knew that Akeem was a potential Mike linebacker for us. … Akeem is a very competitive, strong individual with a strong passion for the game.
“For a young guy that’s played a lot of football, but not in the NFL and scrimmage snaps, we feel like he’s ready to go, head coach Mike Smith told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. That’s why we drafted him. We drafted him to be our middle linebacker”
Team statements aside, Dent is in the position to shine. He’s a mentally tough MLB that plays with both intelligence and heart.
His strength and speed will allow him to stuff the run as OLB Sean Weatherspoon makes plays on and off the edge.
There was the thought process that the Falcons would bring in a veteran to start in front of Dent after Lofa Tatupu was injured and subsequently released by the Falcons.
That didn’t happen as they returned veteran LB Mike Peterson to mentor Dent and let him fly. The training camp results have been nothing short of sensational.