Just because the Super Bowl is in the books doesn't mean we'll stop talking about football. The NFL is a year-round business, with entertaining storylines to keep us interested as the weeks go by. So even though there may not be any Sunday excitement to look forward to, we can still look ahead at the 2015 season.
Specifically, here are three players who could have breakout years next season.
1. Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos
OK, technically Sanders broke out this year. The guy replaced Eric Decker in the Denver offense and promptly hauled in 101 receptions for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns. It doesn't really get much better than that.
But if No.1 wide receiver Demaryius Thomas were to leave Denver in free agency this offseason, Sanders would become the top guy in that passing attack. It's scary to think what he could do with 50 or so extra targets on the season.
"Sanders may not have the physical presence of a guy like Demaryius Thomas, but neither did [Marvin] Harrison nor [Reggie] Wayne, and they seem to have done a fine job with [Peyton[ Manning throwing them the ball," ESPN NFL Insider Sam Monson wrote. "If Manning returns to Denver for another season, look for Sanders to put up another year of stellar numbers."
2. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Kelce had himself a nice 2014. He caught 67 passes for 862 yards and five touchdowns. His season was especially impressive when you remember that none of Kansas City's wide receivers managed to catch a single touchdown this past season.
Believe it or not, Kelce has the chance to put up even better numbers next year.
"Sometimes players can be stars without playing every snap in the game," Monson wrote. "Kelce splits time with Anthony Fasano within Kansas City's two-tight end sets, but his dominant play caused the team to address that balance as the season went on. Kelce began the year playing less than 40 percent of the team's snaps in his first two games and topping 60 percent just once in the first half of the season. Over the second half, he played more than 66 percent of the team's snaps every week and broke 90 percent on three occasions."
Helping Kelce's cause is the fact that he was one of the best in the NFL at racking up yards after the catch. No one gained more than his 503 yards after the catch in 2014. With an increase in playing time, Kelce could potentially vault himself into the top tier of tight ends.
3. Aaron Donald, DT, St. Louis Rams
Donald is another example of a player who has probably already "broken out." I mean, what more can you do in your first year than be named Defensive Rookie of the Year and make the Pro Bowl? But the Rams believe Donald can become one of the best defensive tackles in the game, favorably comparing him to Geno Atkins throughout his rookie season.
"It took Atkins two years to reach the level Donald is at right now," Monson wrote. "In that third year, Atkins broke out for 16 sacks and 78 total pressures as the best defensive tackle we have seen in the NFL for a while. If Donald maintains his career-related lead over Atkins and develops at the same rate, we could witness something special in 2015. He has incredible burst off the line and for a player weighing just 285 pounds..."
Donald notched nine sacks in his rookie year, 0.5 more than Ndamukong Suh recorded this season. If Donald hasn't even approached his ceiling yet then the rest of the NFC West better watch out.