Hello again, fellow NFL fans!
It’s almost time for the new season, which means it’s also time for my annual “breakout players” series. This is the fifth year I’ve picked a breakout player for each team, and I can’t thank you enough for reading them.
I also want to remind you of a couple things. I have certain criteria I use when deciding which player to choose for all 32 teams, and I have a specific goal for what I want you, the reader, to take away from these columns. I outlined it all here last year, but as a refresher:
1) I do not pick rookies or second-year players, unless it’s a special case. If it’s been more than two years since a player was in college but he hasn’t amassed two seasons in the NFL yet, then I’d consider him.
Two years of film, at minimum, gives me a good idea of a player’s breakout potential, and I usually feel more comfortable when he has more tape. NFL teams also generally consider a player’s third season as the point in his career when he can make a big jump, and that’s mostly true from what I’ve seen.
2) The definition of “breakout” may vary. To me, what matters most is if a guy takes that leap in his development, both in his technique and his production. Breaking out doesn’t have to mean a player will be an All-Pro or make the Pro Bowl.
3) I won’t always be right. I pick a guy for all 32 teams, but not every team will end up having a breakout player who fits my criteria. I go with who I think has the best chance to do so. I can’t predict the future, though. No one can.
4) You don’t have to agree with me. But I hope you come away with a good understanding of why I picked each player. My main concern when I write this series is that I’m making a convincing argument every time.
Every offseason, I start doing all the film study, all the research, and all the writing knowing I’m going to be wrong about a few players, and maybe more than that. But I put a lot of work into it anyway, and I try to be as clear-cut as possible without exaggerating anyone’s case.
If I’m right, great. If I’m wrong, that’s OK. I just want you know where I’m coming from, even if you disagree with me.
5) I include a confidence level for each pick. I added it last year and that worked out well, so I’m going to keep doing it this year.
If I think a player will break out, my confidence level will be high. If I think a player has a good chance to break out, but I’m uncertain about his situation for some reason, my confidence level will be moderate. If I think a player has potential to break out, but he has a lot of questions, due to something like an injury or his place on the depth chart, then my confidence level will be low.
Hopefully that will help people adjust their internet outrage level accordingly.
So thanks again for reading them, and enjoy!
Stephen White’s breakout player series will roll out all week long. Here’s a look at when your favorite team’s breakout player will be revealed: