Pre-Season NFL All-Sophomore Team

The second-year stars set to take even bigger leaps in 2012, and you might be surprised who isn't on the list.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

The sophomore slump.

It's a phenomenon that has claimed many victims, like the Rams' Sam Bradford, who had a big year two seasons ago only to have sub-par 2011.  At the same time the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul wasn't a huge factor in 2010, but had a massive 2011 campaign.

So which players will fall under that massive second category with Pierre-Paul?  Here's my NFL all-sophomore team.

QUARTERBACK
Andy Dalton, Bengals – Yeah, I know Cam Newton was the rookie of the year last year, but I see him regressing this upcoming season.  With the Bengals front office finally looking like they know what they're doing, Dalton is set up to have the best season of any second year quarterback.

RUNNING BACK
Demarco Murray, Cowboys – Murray has always had potential and exploded onto the scene last year before injuries limited his playing time and eventually ended his season.  If he can stay healthy, he's a special player.

WIDE RECEIVER
Julio Jones, Falcons
AJ Green, Bengals – This is no surprise, Green is the Bengals No. 1 receiving option and Jones might be taking that designation with the Falcons next year.  Both players had better than anticipated rookie seasons and the only way I see a slump for either of these players is if the injury bug hits.

TIGHT END
Lance Kendricks, Rams – The tight end class from 2011 was pretty thin, but Kendricks has the potential and physical ability to be a force.  If the Rams can keep Sam Bradford upright, Kendricks is his biggest and maybe best target.

OFFENSIVE TACKLE
Nate Solder, Patriots
Marcus Gilbert, Steelers – With the retirement of Matt Light, Solder will move to left tackle to protect Tom Brady's blind side.  Gilbert will benefit from an improved Steelers O-line with the drafting of David DeCastro and the return of Willie Colon.  Gilbert will play left tackle this season, but if second rounder Mike Adams develops quickly, Gilbert will move to the other side of the line.

GUARD
Danny Watkins, Eagles
Steve Schilling, Chargers – Another thin group.  Watkins is the only guard who got good playing time last year.  Schilling will benefit from some players leaving the chargers.  I couldn't pick between two Seahawks guards who split time last year and there were two players selected last year as guards who were moved to OT.

CENTER
Mike Pouncey, Dolphins – Hopefully the injury bug doesn't hit Mike like it did his brother Maurkice last year. Mike is an all-pro caliber player.

DEFENSIVE END
Robert Quinn, Rams
Aldon Smith, 49ers – Smith splits time between DE and OLB in the 49ers system which is the best situation for him as he continues to thrive.  Quinn was in a DE rotation last year with the Rams, but with a new coaching staff expect him to become a main-stay on the Rams' revamped defensive line.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Marcell Dareus, Bills
Phil Taylor, Browns – Taylor had a decent year last season for the Browns.  Dareus should benefit from the complete defensive overhaul that the Bills have gone through this past season.

INSIDE LINEBACKER
Mason Foster, Buccaneers – Foster should continue to do well in the Tampa zone defense.  Having rookie LaVonta David should help take some weight off his shoulders as well.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER
Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins
Von Miller, Broncos – Kerrigan is quickly becoming a defensive leader in Washington along with fellow OLB Brian Orakpo.  Miller had an amazing season despite battling a few nagging injuries.  If he can put in a full season, we could see something amazing

CORNERBACK
Prince Amukamara
Jimmy Smith – Amukamara was injured most of last season but played well late in the year.  Smith is the most talented of any cornerback in this class and will play better with a year under his belt.

SAFETY
Rahim Moore, Broncos
Chris Conte, Bears – Moore should make a big move this season as a full time starter for the Broncos. Conte could do well in spot duty in the Bears' secondary.

PUNTER
Matt Bosher, Falcons – Let's just call this a hunch.

KICKER 
Alex Henery, Eagles – Henery had a decent year for Philadelphia last year, he should build on that in 2012. 

Photo Credit: Patric Schneider/Icon SMI

J. Lance Moose is a contributor and lead football writer for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JLanceMoose, and subscribe on Facebook facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports