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What player will be the biggest surprise on the 2013 New York Jets?
Joe Caporoso – Brian Winters - The Jets 3rd round pick is going to be a week one starter at Guard along with Willie Colon and a key piece of a strong run blocking unit. Winters will bring a needed nasty streak and physicality to the Jets upfront. I’d also keep an eye on Darrin Walls in the secondary, particularly in the slot corner role.
Chris Gross – It is no secret that the Jets entered the offseason with what could be argued as one of the least talented rosters throughout the entire league. However, after some new additions via free agency, the draft, and trades, some areas once viewed as a great weakness suddenly have the potential to be very competent to quality groups on this roster. Since some of these additions are either very young, or low key, under the radar names, there are certainly some players who could end up being what most would consider a surprise in 2013.
The name that immediately comes to mind is RB Chris Ivory. Acquired via trade from the Saints during draft weekend, Ivory has spent his entire career buried on a deep RB depth chart in New Orleans, so most observers of the league, outside of those who closely follow the Saints or the Jets, aren’t familiar with the type of player Ivory could become with a significant role in the offense he will be playing in. We have gone over Ivory’s career numbers and the type of potential he has on this site numerous times, so readers may find considering a breakout season from him a ‘surprise,’ as a bit of a stretch, but over the grand scheme of the NFL, Ivory is still very much an unknown name. If he can remain healthy, Ivory will be the starting back for the Jets, and with what should be an improved offense line, he has an excellent chance to make a name for himself by amassing something in the range of 1,200 rushing yards, 10-12 rushing touchdowns, and above average receiving statistics during his first year in New York. It may not surprise most who have been monitoring this situation closely, but make no mistake, if Chris Ivory breaks out the way we are expecting him to, he will undoubtedly be one of the biggest surprises, not only on the Jets, but throughout the entire NFL, in 2013.
TJ Rosenthal – Stephen Hill has the potential to go from a player who showed brief flashes, to one who contributes on a steady basis in 2013. Hill has size, speed and desire. If he can overcome what plagues him in the hands department be it technique, concentration, or both, he could be the welcome surprise the Jets sorely need from a young player in their WR corps.
Mike Donnelly – I touched on this yesterday in my Stock Watch, but the player I think is poised to put up a big season and surprise a lot of people is Antwan Barnes. His signing was pretty much under-the-radar, which is odd for a guy who had 11 sacks just two years ago in San Diego. Now he joins a Jets defense that is coached by Rex Ryan and features some studs and soon-to-be studs up front like Mo Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, and Sheldon Richardson. With those guys taking up blockers up front, Barnes is going to get a ton of 1 on 1 opportunities on the outside and will easily approach or surpass double digit sacks. By the end of the season everyone will be saying what a good signing this was by John Idzik.
Mike Nolan – Willie Colon – Big Willie was another low risk signing for the Jets this offseason. Colon has been oft injured in his career so John Idzik was able to sign him to a cheap one year contract to see what he still has left in the tank. His release from the Steelers was a huge wakeup call and Colon will be highly motivated to prove the naysayers wrong and to get himself a long term deal. The Jets need Colon to reinvigorate a running game that was at the top of the NFL only a few years ago and to provide consistent protection for either a struggling quarterback or a rookie quarterback. Colon will put together his first healthy season in years and return to borderline pro-bowl form in 2013, helping the offense greatly improve in the process.
Tommy Bohanon – This was an under the radar draft pick at an under the radar position, but I love this kid. If you’ve followed Marty Mornhinweg’s career you will notice that he consistently uses his fullback as an important receiving option, especially in short yardage. With an underwhelming receiving core and one of the worst tight end stables in the league, the Jets’ offense in 2013 should follow suit. The Jets 7th round pick out of Wake Forest should put together a great rookie year in this offense if he wins the starting fullback job. He is a good blocker and an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield. Bohanon has the athletic ability and versatility to line up at H-Back and Tight End as well. Mornhinweg should find some ways to get him involved in the offense. I could see him having between 20-30 catches and a few touchdowns in his rookie year.