It almost feels unfair to put O’Neal on this list because injuries curtailed him in his second and third seasons. While he didn’t regress in terms of playing ability, he couldn’t contribute as he would have wished on the playing field. That was a shame because he was superb in his rookie year.
His knee injury sidelined him for almost two years. O’Neal achieved 12 sacks in his first year but only made four when he returned to action. However, he did recover and went on to play in the Pro Bowl six times in his career. That showed real strength of character.
It took Young three years to kickstart his NFL career. His rookie season was a mixed bag but his second year in Tampa was even worse. The Bucs only won three games with him as a starter and it looked like he didn’t have what it took to play at the highest level.
However, Young proved everybody wrong in his third season when he joined the San Francisco 49ers. He threw for 10 touchdowns with zero interceptions on his way to the Hall of Fame. Young also won three Super Bowls and was a Super Bowl MVP. The legendary quarterback picked himself up after a shocking sophomore slump.
Does it count as a slump if your rookie season was bad too? Well, in this case, we are going to say yes, because Bradford totally fell off of the wagon in his second NFL season. To be fair, the Rams were poor when he joined them with a shoulder injury from his time with the Oklahoma Sooners. But at least he showed some promise.
Then he just went into total decline. It was like leaving a book outside in the rain. So much promise but you can never get to end because it turned into a wet pile of mush. His pass completion rate dropped by seven percent to 53 as he threw the same number of interceptions as touchdowns (6/6).
The Detroit Lions thought that they had themselves a future Hall of Famer in Farr, but that turned out not to be the case. The running back had an outrageous rookie season but suffered one of the worst sophomore slumps on this list. The trouble was that this turned into a neverending career slump thanks to injuries.
Farr rushed for over 1,200 yards in 13 games, as the Lions’ offense compiled over 2,000 yards between them. But it took six seasons for him to add another 1,200 to his career total. He fell to under 600 yards in his second season with just three touchdowns, compared to six the previous year.
One of the most high-profile sophomore slumps in recent years, Mayfield revived the Browns when he broke onto the scene as a rookie. They thought that they had themselves a franchise quarterback and his first season backed that up. He threw for a record 27 touchdowns as he inspired the Browns to seven wins after zero the previous year.
But Mayfield took a step backward in 2019. He threw 21 interceptions as Cleveland regressed. Furthermore, his confidence came off as arrogance and he struggled in big games. Only time will tell whether or not he’s a one-hit-wonder or an elite talent.