With the regular season over, it's time to go back and revisit my preseason predictions on breakout players for each team. This was a fun exercise for me because I got to watch lots of film in the offseason trying to find the right guy to pick and because as the season played out I actually got to see how right or wrong my predictions ended up being. Nobody has a crystal ball, so it's not like I consider myself some kinda guru now simply because I got a few of them right. That's more a testament to those guys and they kind of work they put in to take the next step more than any special powers of discernment on my part.
Well, that's enough of a preamble, lets start right off with the picks I obviously got wrong.
Whiffed! These players did not broken out this year, and most of them aren't even as productive as they have been in previous years.
Falcons RB Antone Smith: Picked up by the Bears and managed one carry for 11 yards before being released before the last game of the season.
Bears OLB Willie Young: As the coaches increased his playing time his production went up, but 6.5 sacks is not a breakout season for him.
Bengals DE Margus Hunt: Just a bad pick on my part. Should've gone with Dre Kirkpatrick..
Patriots WR Aaron Dobson: His season started off slow then he got hurt. Again.
Giants DE Damontre Moore: Fought a teammate over free Beats By Dre headphones. Subsequently released. Picked up by the Dolphins. One sack in the last eight weeks of the season. Fail.
Jets OLB Quinton Coples: Released by the Jets and picked up by their division rival, the Dolphins, ending the season with eight total tackles and no sacks.
Steelers WR Markus Wheaton: Came on strong the second half of the season and even put up a 200-yard-plus receiving game in a loss to the Seahawks, but a slow start killed his stats.
49ers DT Tank Carradine: Only one sack in 14 games is no bueno, especially when pass rushing is supposed to be your deal.
Seahawks DT Jordan Hill: Only played in 10 games and ended up with no sacks on the season.
Buccaneers CB Johnathan Banks: Benched off and on the second half of the season. Started the last two games, but didn't look all that great.
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce: Kelce is the weird case where he had a really good season, but it wasn't much better, if at all better, than the season he had last year. Maybe I was expecting too much from him.
Saints NT John Jenkins: Jenkins was a part of one of the worst defenses I've ever seen. His personal stats were pretty mediocre also..
Colts C Khaled Holmes: Got benched after Week 7 and didn't start again the rest of the season.
Cowboys DT Tyrone Crawford: Started all 16 games, but was reportedly banged up for many of them and it showed. Five sacks is an improvement, but I wouldn't define what he did this season as a breakout in any sense of the word.
Jaguars SS Johnathan Cyprien: I like Cyprien a lot, but it's starting to look like he may already be who he's going to be in the NFL. With all his physical gifts, I just can't understand why he doesn't make more plays against the pass.
Eagles OLB Brandon Graham: Decent season with 6.5 sacks, but certainly not a breakout year by any stretch. Maybe next year.
Dolphins TE Dion Sims: Missed three weeks early on with a concussion, but his production was still underwhelming for the season on the whole.
Cardinals OLB Alex Okafor: Missed three games with an injured calf. By the time he came back, the Cardinals had already signed Dwight Freeney who quickly became the team's best pass rusher. A decent season all in all, but definitely no breakout from him.
I'm a GENIUS! These players make me look like a modern day Nostradamus
Ravens NT Brandon Williams: Started all 16 games and ended up with 53 tackles, two sacks and was constantly getting push in the middle of that Ravens defensive line. A bright spot in a bad year for Baltimore.
Panthers DT Kawann Short: Touched double digit sacks, as I predicted he might and is headed to his first of what will probably be many more Pro Bowls to come.
Browns WR Travis Benjamin: The problems at quarterback finally caught up with Benjamin the second half of the season, but he still had by far his best year in the league with 68 receptions, almost 1000 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
Broncos TE Virgil Green: With only 12 catches (three more than his single season high) for 173 yards (99 yards more than his single season high) and a single touchdown, I kinda feel bad for taking credit for Green having a breakout year. Not bad enough to pass it up, however.
Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah: Ansah ended the season with 14.5 sacks, which is almost exactly what I predicted for him. Scary part is he still has room to improve.
Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins: I know a lot of people believe Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in the league, but Hopkins put up 111 catches for 1,500+ yards and 11 touchdowns with your drunk uncle playing quarterback. I can only imagine the numbers he could put up with a quarterback like Big Ben.
Raiders RB Latavius Murray: Over 1,000 yards and six touchdowns is none too shabby for Murray on the season. I see bright days in his future.
Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram: Ingram was one of my favorite players to watch in college, so it was great to see him get to double digit sacks as well 16 starts while finishing the season healthy. Hell, next year he may even take another leap forward with a strong offseason.
Rams WR Tavon Austin: Nine combined rushing and receiving touchdowns to go along with 52 receptions certainly qualifies as a breakout year, but I still hate that the Rams can't figure out better ways to get him the ball in space on a consistent basis. QB situation didn't help, either.
Washington TE Jordan Reed: Just remember 87 receptions, over 900 yards and 11 touchdowns later, that if it weren't for Niles Paul and Logan Ryan both getting hurt in the preseason Reed might not have even been in Washington this season. Amazing.
Injuries are a part of football, but man do they suck.
Packers ILB Sam Barrington: Injured his foot in the first game. Placed on IR.
Vikings DT Sharrif Floyd: Missed four games after knee surgery, then when he came back had to play nose to compensate for a teammate getting injured.
Titans WR Justin Hunter: Went on IR after getting hurt in a loss to the Panthers in Week 10.
Bills ILB Nigel Bradham: Missed the last five weeks of the season due to injury.