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The NFL's top 25 breakout 'prospects' for 2017


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This story is from Aug. 1, so it may have been posted already. A Falcon was 2nd on the list. Tyreek Hill of KC was #1. Insider link so it may not work.


Every year, Football Outsiders puts together a list of the NFL's best and brightest young players who have barely played. Eighty percent of the draft-day discussion is about first-round picks, and 10 percent is about the players that should have been first-round picks, but instead went in the second round.


This list is about the others. Everybody knows that Marcus Mariota and Myles Garrett are good. There's a cottage industry around the idea of hyping every draft's No. 1 quarterback as a potential superstar. This is a list of players that have a strong chance to make an impact in the NFL despite their lack of draft stock and the fact that they weren't immediate NFL starters. (Our full criteria for who's eligible for this list is at the bottom of this article.)

Previous instances of the list have hyped players such as Geno AtkinsElvis DumervilMalcolm Butler and Jamaal Charles before they blew up. Last year's list included David JohnsonDanielle Hunter and Super Bowl star Grady Jarrett.

This year, there weren't any prospects head-and-shoulders above the rest of the crew, like we've seen in past instances. Last year, for example, David Johnson was an easy top prospect. We actually had to have a bit of a debate to settle on the top of the list.

Here are the top 25 breakout prospects for 2017:


2. Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons

Age: 22 | 405 offensive snaps | Third-round pick (2016)

Hooper came out of Stanford with a pedigree as a great blocking tight end, but he wasn't utilized much in the passing game by the Cardinal, with only 34 targets his junior season. However, outside evaluators such as Matt Waldman of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio loved what they saw of Hooper. He tested well, and also looked the part on the field.

Hooper had a 47.1 percent receiving DVOA in his rookie year for the Falcons. Granted, some of that came because Kyle Shanahan's second tight ends often get a lot of leeway to make big plays. But with no ball-dominant second option in the Atlanta passing game, and Jacob Tamme gone, Hooper could make the leap this year and become a true TE1 for fantasy football purposes.


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