New York Jets 2014 Breakout Candidates

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Every year a handful of players seemingly come out of nowhere to become major impact players in the NFL. These players all rise from relative obscurity or limited expectations to become major contributors on their respective clubs. Let’s take look at potential 2014 breakout candidates for the New York Jets.

Quinton Coples

Last off season Coples’ appeared primed to break out. In the 2013 preseason he made the Lions and Jaguars offensive linemen look like blocking dummies. However, Coples suffered an ankle injury from which he never seemed to recover. He finished the season on an upswing with three and a half sacks in the last five games, that rate projects to just over eleven sacks on the season. Barring another injury, Coples should enter the 2014 in a position to become an impact pass rusher. Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, and Muhammad Wilkerson each consume blockers upfront, add Coples to the mix and there just aren’t enough blockers to defend against them. Coples’ unique blend of size and athleticism should allow him to easily dispose of whatever would-be blockers his fellow linemen do not demand.

Ras-I Dowling

Gang Green Nation’s Scott Salmon addressed Dowling’s break out potential in this post and I tend to agree with him. Dowling was a second round pick in 2011 for a reason. He has all the talent in the world but, like Coples, has struggled to put together a full season. Early reports out of camp are that he has been blanketing Jets pass catchers and making plays on the ball. He should be in competition with Dimitri Patterson, Dexter McDougle, and Darrin Walls for the starting spot opposite Dee Milliner. Dowling has more talent than any of his fellow competitors but lacks refinement after two injury plagued seasons in New England. If he can stay healthy and put together a solid training camp, don’t be surprised to see him in the mix for the starting gig and thrive opposite Milliner.

Brian Winters

Winters looked completely lost for most of last season. However, to be fair, he was a rookie making the transition from tackle to guard. He, like fellow rookies Milliner and Geno Smith, ended the last quarter of the season on a positive note. With some improvements in technique and pass protection, Winters looked competent by season’s end. Winters has the tenacity and physicality needed from a solid starting NFL offensive lineman and if he can continue to improve through the offseason program, could become just that.

Dee Milliner

Like Winters, Milliner is the penciled in starter at his position. He had a strong final four games in 2013 and looks to build off that in 2014. Milliner experienced the growing pains one expects from a rookie corner but something clicked in that final quarter of the season. He began to read routes, position himself, and play the ball with better refinement. With the front seven ever improving and rookie Calvin Pryor enforcing the backend, Milliner will have support around him. If he continues on this same trajectory, Milliner could become one of the better cornerbacks in the league by year’s end.

Dakota Dozier

With Willie Colon out until training camp and Winter’s development up in the air, Dozier has a shot to steal one of the starting spots at guard. Dozier is talented and is competing against the still developing Oday Aboushi and William Campbell in Colon’s absence. Should he impress this spring, Dozier could play himself into a three way competition with Colon and Winters for the two starting spots. Should he find himself in the starting lineup, Dozier has the size and athleticism to make an immediate impact.

Demario Davis

Though he was drafted in the third round, the team placed high expectations on the linebacker out of Arkansas State. Davis was expected to take over for the departed Bart Scott in 2013 and contribute right away. While his sideline to sideline speed helped contain speedier offenses, he has underwhelmed in pass coverage. Davis certainly has the athleticism and physicality to thrive in his role, he just needs to put it together. With as solid a supporting cast as he’s had in New York, this could be the year he steps it up.

Jalen Saunders

The Jets wide receiver and recent special teams woes are well known. Jalen Saunders should step right in to the punt returner role and contribute. With Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley taking the majority of the receiver snaps, the third spot is wide open and Saunders has the talent to run away with the job. He can both take the top off the defense and work the slot; a veritable swiss army knife in Mornhinweg’s tool box.

16 thoughts on “New York Jets 2014 Breakout Candidates

  1. If Stephen Hill can stay healthy and up his game, the Jets would have two big wide receivers when paired with Eric Decker. That would leave all kinds of options at the slot position. Kerley, Ford, Saunders are smaller players with a lot of speed. I think Hill is the key to how the receiver position shakes out this season. It will be interesting to see who will make the team out of all the wr’s on the roster. Looking forward to a great competition this summer.

  2. I’m not so sure about Dowling as, according to PFW, he “has been hurt dating all the way back to high school, missing significant action, and could always be snakebitten.”

    It’s interesting Geno was left off the list. I’m not confident that he’s the long-term solution at QB, but his improvement is key to the Jets becoming a playoff team or Super Bowl contender in the short term.

  3. Aboushi should be a candidate over Dozier, as he is the one who took over Colon’s spot on the roster. Like Dozier, Aboushi was also a tackle in college, but unlike Dozier, Aboushi seems capable of playing both tackle and guard in the pros. That versatility makes Aboushi more likely to make the roster and if he can hang on to the starting spot, he will be the breakout.

    Also, with the additions of Patterson and McDougle, it seems Rex Ryan is moving his secondary away from physically-dominating corners. Dowling is a good player, but he went from second-round pick to being cut two years after being drafted. To go from high draft pick to bust/cut-your-losses to breakout starting corner in two years is a stretch of the imagination.

  4. I think this will be a breakout year for Geno Smith. He really seemed to have turned a corner over the last month of the season (for one thing, he realized you’re supposed to throw the ball to the guys in the green jersey, and that you can run with the ball if there’s nobody to throw it to). With improvements at WR, TE, and RB, he is going to have a lot more help on offense, and I really believe he will begin to put it all together.

  5. Antwan Barnes, if healthy, should have an impact. Especially with another dominance performance from the SONS. Add a impactful Coples to the mix, and Barnes should find some favorably one on one match-ups he should win with his speed.

  6. Stephen hill.. As much as I have been down on him if he can just learn to catch the ball away from his body, high point the ball and stay healthy I think MM can make use out of him.

  7. Davis is on my radar also.

    Sadly, none of our current LB’s offer much pass protection; perhaps a rethinking of the safety role will make life easier for them.

    Call me a dreamer, but I would also put Hill on the list. I think he made strides last year; held the ball even when pounded. This year if he improves his routes, and if Geno can lead him for a change, he just might start fires.

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  11. For third year pro Stephen Hill the game is on the line. It’s time for him to progress or step aside.
    Many of us have high hopes for Hill but with a plethora of WR’s waiting in the wings to take his spot – it’s now or never.
    COLON should be back in time for September, if not August, but his being out for OTA’s is going to be time well spent by the depth players getting reps and showcasing their talent.
    Which is nothing but good for the team.

  12. I do not know what “break-out” year means, but I expect the following players, from last years’ team, to show significant improvement.

    On Defense: Antonio Allen, Dee Milliner, Demario Davis, Quinton Coples, And the DL

    On Offense: Geno Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Brian Winters

    And I hope that the following players from FA and the Draft are a pleasant surprise!

    Calvin Pryor, Jace Amaro, Dexter McDougle, Erick decker , Chris Johnson

    If my expectations and hopes come true I believe this team can go deep into the play-offs.

  13. @Joesph Phlipsak
    For me, I would say either they go to the Super Bowl or they get a top ten pick. Seeing that I do not think the Jets have a well-gelled team yet, I do not think a Super Bowl is likely this year. So I would much rather a top ten pick in the 2015 draft so they can come out fighting in 2015 with an easier schedule (I pray).

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