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Even when they’ve made it big in the NFL, young football players aren’t finished products. Players might peak earlier in this sport than others (looking at you, baseball), but it usually takes a few seasons at the professional level to become totally refined.
And many, of course, never do.
Fourth-year players are usually pretty polished and aren’t likely to change much more, and rookies have yet to truly show us what they’ll have to work on to succeed in NFL games. So let’s look at the top second- and third-year players and analyze what they need to improve on in 2017 and beyond.
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These are the guys who have been just so damn good that it’s tough to find a flaw they “must” fix. But because no player is perfect, there’s still something for them to work on…
New York Jets DT Leonard Williams
A strong, technically sound, run-stuffing defensive tackle who is coming off a seven-sack season in which he took just one penalty? This might be my biggest challenge yet.
Could Williams get slightly lower at times? I guess. Does it matter? Probably not. Could he become a stronger pass-rusher by adding more moves to his repertoire? I suppose. Will not doing so prevent him from becoming a superstar? Nope. In fact, I’m pretty sure the primary reason why he sometimes goes long stretches without applying pressure is because that’s not really his job most Sundays.
The 23-year-old is going to be a perennial All-Pro regardless, but technically his pass-rush game isn’t flawless.
New York Giants S Landon Collins
Collins did it all in his second season with the Giants. Five picks, four sacks, 125 tackles. That earned the 23-year-old a first-team All-Pro nod and nine Defensive Player of the Year votes (third behind Khalil Mack and Von Miller).
He doesn’t have to do anything to continue on his current path to stardom, but he did get beat quite frequently in coverage. He was rarely beat deep but was burned by a few…