NFL Analysis


7 min read

Predicting NFL's Biggest Sophomore Slumps of 2024

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) carries the ball against Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Jack Jones (18) in the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 rookie class was one of the most productive in recent memory. C.J. Stroud took the league by storm, leading the Houston Texans to the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Puka Nacua set the rookie record for most receiving yards (1,486), and Rashee Rice became Kansas City's No. 1 wide receiver, helping the Chiefs win their second consecutive Super Bowl.

But which standout rookies from the 2023 season are set to regress in 2024? Here are four players who are set to have sophomore slumps this season. 

Four NFL Players Who Could Suffer Sophomore Slumps

1. Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings

Nacua, Rice and Zay Flowers all got a lot of national attention for their strong rookie season. It certainly didn't hurt that all their teams made the playoffs, but that is beside the point. Jordan Addison had an incredible first season, racking up 911 receiving yards on 70 receptions.

Addison led all rookies in touchdown receptions (10) and averaged a whopping 8.4 yards per target. He was incredible for the Minnesota Vikings and was everything the team could have hoped for when it selected him at pick No. 23.

However, it feels pretty likely he won't reach the same numbers in 2024. The most obvious reason is that Kirk Cousins left the Vikings for the Atlanta Falcons. In the eight games Addison played with Cousins, he scored seven touchdowns and averaged 60.3 yards per game. He scored three times in the nine games without him and averaged 47.7 yards per game. J.J. McCarthy could be solid as a rookie, but there is no way he'll be as productive as Cousins.

It's also worth noting that most of Addison's production came when Justin Jefferson was out of the lineup because of a hamstring injury. Once Jefferson returned, Addison saw a major dip in his production. While we can assume Addison will be a better player in 2024, it's easy to see how his receiving numbers might not increase.

Miami Dolphins running back De'Von Achane
Miami Dolphins running back De'Von Achane (28), running against the Buffalo Bills during a game at Hard Rock Stadium, scored 11 touchdowns in 2023. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

2. De’Von Achane, RB, Miami Dolphins

Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs had strong rookie seasons after being selected in Round 1, but the most exciting running back in the class was De'Von Achane. He scored 11 touchdowns on just 130 touches and helped the Miami Dolphins become one of the league’s most explosive offenses.

However, there are some good reasons why he could experience a sophomore slump. Despite only 103 carries, Achane totaled 800 rushing yards. That means Achane averaged 7.8 yards per carry, which led the NFL.

But how does that stack up against some of the other top running backs in NFL history? Here is the list of running backs that have averaged more than 6.5 yards per carry during an entire season with a minimum of at least 100 attempts since the NFL merger:

De’Von Achane (7.8)

That is the list. There have been only 12 running backs to average six yards per carry or more in a single season, but no one else has surpassed 6.4. That is how much more efficient and productive Achane was as a rookie than the rest of NFL history. So, saying he will regress (some) to the mean isn't a hot take. If he doesn't, we might be talking about the most explosive and dynamic running back in NFL history.

There is another reason why Achane could see a dip in production. The Dolphins traded away their 2025 third-round pick to select Jaylen Wright from Tennessee. Like Achane, Wright is known for his long speed and ability to create big plays.

While Achane isn’t in danger of losing his job, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Dolphins limit his touches to keep him healthy for the playoffs. Achane will still be a dynamic player in 2024, but expecting him to average anything close to 7.8 yards per attempt is absurd.

Los Angeles Rams defensive lineman Kobie Turner
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Kobie Turner (91) celebrates a play with safety Russ Yeast (2) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

3. Kobie Turner, DT, Los Angeles Rams

Without looking, can you name who led all rookies in sacks last season?

It wasn't Will Anderson Jr., who won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award, or Jalen Carter, who many believed was a generational pass-rushing prospect at defensive tackle. Nope, it was Kobie Turner of the Los Angeles Rams

After being selected at pick No. 89, Turner appeared in all 17 games and started four alongside Aaron Donald. He played 62 percent of the defensive snaps, recording 16 QB hits and eight tackles for a loss. Turner's most impressive stat was his nine sacks, which is a high number for a rookie defensive tackle. The last time a rookie defensive tackle had at least nine sacks was, coincidentally, Donald (9.0) during the 2014 season.

Could Turner be the next Donald? That seems unlikely. What is likely to happen is Turner will see a major decrease in his pass-rush productivity because Donald retired. Opposing offenses doubled Donald at an absurd rate, allowing Turner to have a bunch of 1-on-1 opportunities. That won't be the case in 2024 because Turner will likely see more attention from offensive lines.

There is no doubt that Turner is a good player, and judging a player by sacks alone is a bad way to evaluate a pass rusher. But his job will get a lot harder this season, and his production isn't likely to line up with his talent because of the increased difficulty of assignments.

Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta
Sam LaPorta (87) walks on stage during the Detroit Lions' uniform reveal event inside Ford Field in Detroit. (David Rodriguez Munoz-Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY Network)

4. Sam LaPorta, TE, Detroit Lions

In one of the best tight end classes in recent memory, Sam LaPorta was the most productive of the group. Not only did he lead all tight ends in receptions (86) and yards (886), but he also led the entire rookie class in receiving touchdowns (10).

His 10 receiving touchdowns are tied for the most all-time among rookie tight ends with Rob Gronkowski (2010). And LaPorta's 86 receptions are the most ever by a rookie tight end. 

So why might LaPorta have a sophomore slump? It has nothing to do with him and everything to do with all of Detroit's weapons. The Detroit Lions are loaded with playmakers, and it's only fair to assume that Jahmyr Gibbs and Jameson Williams will have bigger roles in 2024. We know that Amon-Ra St. Brown will continue to get his targets from the slot, and David Montgomery will still be in the rotation at running back. 

Defenses are more aware of how LaPorta wins, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get less action than he did as a rookie. It’s hard to score double-digit touchdowns, especially on an offense with this many weapons.

There have only been a handful of tight ends in NFL history to post multiple seasons of double-digit touchdowns, and only Gronkowski did it during the first two years of his career. Is there a chance LaPorta will be the next Gronk, and is he that type of receiving weapon? It's possible, but it seems unlikely.

Instead, expect to see LaPorta's touchdown production reduce, as the Lions have too many weapons that need the ball. He will still be among the league's most dynamic tight ends, but repeating his rookie season in terms of production will be extremely difficult.