Calvin Johnson and the 11 Must-See NFL Players This Year

  • Calvin Johnson
    Calvin Johnson

    We have to start with the man himself. At age 29, Calvin Johnson is still well worth the price of admission. Put single coverage on him, and you might as well start getting ready for your next offensive series. He’s one of the few receivers league-wide who necessitates double teams nearly every time he steps on the field…and even that’s not always enough.

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  • Odell Beckham Jr.
    Odell Beckham Jr.

    It may be impossible for ODB to live up to the reputation set by his breakout rookie campaign, but we’re going along for the journey no matter what. Beckham is a human Vine machine, churning out one-handed catches and spectacular plays on a routine basis. As Giants QB  Eli Manning heads deeper into his twilight years, Beckham’s talent provides a shot of rejuvenation.

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  • Aaron Rodgers

    While there are quarterbacks across the NFL with better “all-time” credentials, no QB is currently better than Aaron Rodgers. The guy can do it all, whether it’s dropping a 50-yard bomb into a streaking receiver’s hands or rolling out of the pocket and buying time with his legs. Do not let your guard down for even a second, or Rodgers is leading his team to six more points.

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  • DeMarco Murray
    DeMarco Murray

    How do you make the league’s leading rusher even more exciting to watch? Put him in Chip Kelly’s up-tempo attack and feed him the rock. After defecting from the rival Cowboys to the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason, expect Murray to run with a vengeance. He’ll have every opportunity to make Dallas regret letting him leave for a division opponent.

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  • Richard Sherman
    Richard Sherman

    Who says defense can’t be fun? Sherman has made the most noise on and off the field  as a core component of Seattle’s famed Legion of Boom, and that reign of terror doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy any time soon. He’ll have the chance to stand toe-to-toe with studs like A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, and Calvin Johnson–who can turn down watching those individual slugfests?

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  • Antonio Brown
    Antonio Brown

    Brown may not be one of the first names to come up in the best wideout conversation, but he should be. He ripped off the second-most receptions in a single season in league history last year with 129, and he figures to be a pivotal part of Pittsburgh’s offense (and return units!) once again.

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  • Tom Brady
    Tom Brady

    Brady’s suspension in the aftermath of the Deflategate scandal only makes his Week 6 debut that much more anticipated. The Patriots infamously competitive signal-caller will reemerge onto the scene in primetime, playing on Sunday night against a Colts franchise he’s tortured for his entire career. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect launch pad for a 12-week firework display?

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  • Dez Bryant
    Dez Bryant

    Bryant coming to an agreement on a new mega-deal was great news for everyone but his opponents. With the contract squabbling in the rearview, Bryant can now focus on doing what he does best–using his deadly combination of size and speed to turn opposing defenses into Swiss cheese.

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  • J.J. Watt
    J.J. Watt

    Watt’s dominance in Houston is terrifying enough before you remember that last year’s No. 1 overall pick, pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney, will complement Watt on the other side of the Texans defense. The Wisconsin product put up 20.5 sacks last season without the presence of Clowney–AFC South opponents should be shuddering at the thunder these two will bring this season.

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  • Andrew Luck
    Andrew Luck

    Taking the Colts from a Wild Card berth to an AFC Championship Game in his first three seasons is just the opening act for Andrew Luck. He was heralded as the best quarterback prospect in decades when he entered the league in 2012, and he’s lived up to the hype thus far. It’s hard to believe he’s only 25 years old, and it’s frightening to think how successful he has been with so much room left to grow.

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  • LeSean McCoy
    LeSean McCoy

    McCoy has drawn comparisons to the irreverent Barry Sanders over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. While his dancing behind the line sometimes gets him in trouble, McCoy is a highlight and a long touchdown waiting to happen. His new fans in Buffalo will get to see “Shady” put on his best moves, and his honest attitude will fit snugly alongside new head coach Rex Ryan.

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  • Calvin Johnson
  • Odell Beckham Jr.
  • DeMarco Murray
  • Richard Sherman
  • Antonio Brown
  • Tom Brady
  • Dez Bryant
  • J.J. Watt
  • Andrew Luck
  • LeSean McCoy

August is an extended version of Christmas Eve for NFL fans, with training camp providing a chance to preview and get excited about what your favorite teams and players have in store. After a long summer of no gridiron action, seeing players fly around in pads again gets the adrenaline levels rising.

Nothing has that effect quite like the game’s top stars, guys like Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Not only does he have one of the greatest nicknames in sports, but all-world game to match. Ever since he emerged out of Georgia Tech, he’s been terrorizing defenses and leaving opponents grasping for air.

Your average Joe might never get a chance to compile numbers like the Lions stud receiver (unless he’s on your fantasy team!), but you can certainly try to emulate his style–the CJ3 Flyweave Trainer “Bowling” colorway drops at Champs Sports locations today.

[RELATED: An Illustrated Look at Why Everyone Is So Scared of Calvin Johnson]

Maybe Johnson isn’t the guy you root for–I see you out there, NFC North fans–or wide receiver isn’t the position that really grabs your attention. The good news is that there’s no shortage of star talent in the league right now; 2015 has a great mix of rising studs, fading stars, and in-their-prime beasts. This is shaping up to be a great year for the league, and that trickles down to the fans viewing experience.

These aren’t the only guys you should keep your eye on, but we have a feeling that when NFL Sundays roll around, you’ll want to pay attention to this crew. This is Calvin Johnson and the 11 Must-See NFL Players This Year.

Follow Kyle on Twitter at @kyleneubeck

image via Nike