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What member of the New York Jets will take the biggest step forward next year?
Joe Caporoso – Two players come to mind, one on offense and one on defense. Offensively, H-Back Quincy Enunwa should be poised for a bigger role and hopefully avoid a midseason four game suspension. His blocking was critical last year and he showed flashes of tremendous athleticism in the passing game. This year, he will take the next step with consistency as a pass catcher and become more of a factor in the red-zone. Defensively, look for another big step forward from safety Calvin Pryor who went from a clueless, misused player under Rex Ryan to a playmaker under Todd Bowles. With another offseason under his belt, Pryor will only improve further and could find himself in Pro Bowl discussions next year.
Dalbin Osorio – If Geno Smith is the Jets starting quarterback, my money is on him. Since we don’t know that for sure, I’ll go in a different direction.
I honestly think the member of the Jets to take that next step this year is Buster Skrine. A lot of Jet fans have scoffed at the idea of Skrine starting opposite Darrelle Revis. They’ve mentioned Marcus Williams as the guy that should start, with Skrine relegated to slot duty. Buster Skrine is a damn good cornerback who has experience playing outside. Take that, plus the need for better play from the other CB position than Antonio Cromartie gave, and it’s actually easy to see Skrine getting multiple opportunities to make plays. Unlike Cromartie, Skrine will take advantage of those opportunities and I think he ends up leading the Jets in INTs while turning in a Pro Bowl caliber year.
David Aitken – The defensive side of the ball has a number of candidates here, but I’m going with last year’s first round pick Leonard Williams. His rookie season was so strong that it’s natural to overlook him as a candidate for a massive step forward, but it should be remembered how highly regarded he was coming out of USC. Fellow highly drafted Jets defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson had noteworthy rookie seasons and took a big step forward the following year, and Williams’ rookie season was the best of the bunch. Other top defensive interior talents like J.J. Watt, Aaron Donald and Cameron Jordan followed a similar pattern. This time next year we could be talking about Williams as the best defender on the team period.
Kevin Zielaznicki – Plenty of names come to mind when thinking about potential breakout players for the Jets next season such as Devin Smith, Calvin Pryor, and Leonard Williams. But one player I believe will take a huge step forward is second year outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin. Although he played in a limited role, Maudin flashed impressive abilities to hold the edge and rush the passer. He notched four sacks this past season and was constantly a disruptive force. With another year under his belt, I think Mauldin could turn a lot of heads this year and potentially reach a double digit sack count. The Jets linebacking core is going to be fun to watch with Mauldin and first round pick Darron Lee wrecking havoc upon opposing offenses.
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