New York Jets – Potential Under The Radar Breakout Players

Greg Armstrong with a look at potential under the radar breakout players for the New York Jets in 2018…

Heading into training camp, it’s always a fun exercise to try and predict which guys will have a breakout year. It may not necessarily be breakout in the grand scheme of the NFL but just in the scope of the team. Here are some guys I have my eyes on as we inch closer to training camp.

Elijah McGuire

If there’s one guy I’m super high on heading into the 2018 season, it’s McGuire. It was reported that he will most likely be the third down running back instead of either Bilal Powell or Isaiah Crowell. This role fits him perfectly.

McGuire was best utilized on passing downs last season. He only had 246 yards rushing on 86 carries outside of the 69 yard run against Jacksonville last season. His receiving numbers weren’t eye popping (17 receptions on 26 targets for 177 yards and a touchdown) but he showed the ability that he can win routes when lined out wide.

If anybody besides Bryce Petty is quarterback that’s a touchdown. He will most likely be lined up against linebackers and safeties, both of which aren’t quick enough to stay with McGuire. If Jeremy Bates uses him as such, his production will have a nice increase.

Christopher Herndon

I know he’s a rookie and it’s not really considered a “breakout” year if you haven’t done anything prior. But! If Sam Darnold is the starter for a majority of the season, Herndon could find himself as a main target for the rookie.

Herndon is the clear cut leader to start as the receiving tight end, as opposed to Eric Tomlinson who will be primarily be used as a blocking tight end. We see it time and time again with rookie quarterbacks: tight ends are usually their safety valves.

Dustin Keller for example with Mark Sanchez. In his rookie year, he had 48 receptions on 78 targets for 535 yards and three touchdowns. Sanchez would consistently find Keller in the middle of the field when things broke down or the Jets needed a completion. This rendition of the Jets has more weapons and deep threats on the outside with Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Jermaine Kearse but Herndon can still find himself being a pivotal tool in not only the Jets offense but in the development of Sam Darnold moving forward.

Buster Skrine

Now hear me out. *ducks from the tomatos being thrown*

Skrine has had a shaky past couple of seasons. At times he’s a walking holding penalty that almost always seem to come at the most inconvenient times. However, last season he was forced to play outside against bigger receivers instead of his natural position as a nickel corner.

With a move back primarily to the nickel corner (pending Morris Claibornes health) and a substantially better secondary than last season, Skrine could find himself having a quietly good year. He actually didn’t play all that bad towards the end of last season.

Adding Parry Nickerson as his future replacement could also manifest into a healthy competition that makes both players better.

Steve McLendon

McLendon is almost the forgotten guy on the defensive line with the additions of Nathan Shepherd, Folorunso Fatukasi and Henry Anderson. He was ranked as the 29th interior defensive lineman last season, according to PFF.

McLendon will presumably serve as the anchor of the line with Leonard Williams and Anderson playing the end spots. There’s been some chatter amongst Jets fans about the rookies, Mike Pennel and Xavier Cooper getting more playing time in the rotation of the d-line. The best option for them is McLendon. He is a good run defender and at times has shown he can get to the quarterback. Having two guys like Williams and Anderson who can get pressure on the edge should open things up for McLendon.

Even with him getting up there in age, when he’s on the field (which I expect him to get a majority of the snaps) he’ll still continue to provide a level production that won’t get the notice but will be impactful up front.