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We expected these 32 NFL players to break out in 2015. How have they done?

In August, retired NFL defensive end Stephen White picked a breakout player for every NFL team. He checked in on his predictions at the season's halfway point.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Week 9 of the NFL season is behind us, guaranteeing that every team has played at least eight games, I figured it's a good time to go back and look at my breakout players from the preseason. Some guys start off slow and finish strong, so this all could change in the next eight weeks, but there's nothing wrong with taking a look at where we are.

Let's start right off with the picks I obviously got wrong.


These players not only have not broken out this year, most of them aren't even as productive as they had been in previous years. That's if they are playing at all.

Antone Smith, RB, Falcons: He got hurt in preseason, and was eventually cut by the Falcons.

Willie Young, OLB, Bears: His playing time situation has been weird all year. Very weird.

Margus Hunt, DE, Bengals: Suffered from back problems this offseason and is not getting much playing time this fall.

Aaron Dobson, WR, Patriots: He's been active for six out of eight games, but only has 11 catches on the year.

Damontre Moore, DE, Giants: His stats are OK, but too many mental errors and now JPP is back to eat his reps.

Quinton Coples, LB, Jets: A stacked defensive line has meant a reduced role for the outside linebacker.

Markus Wheaton, WR, Steelers: Big Ben has been hurt, and Martavis Bryant is back off suspension. Missed opportunity for Wheaton.

Tank Carradine, DE, 49ers: Only one sack on the season. It seems like I'm seeing him less and less on the field, too.

Jordan Hill, DT, Seahawks: Has been banged up but the bottom line is he is sackless through the first nine weeks.

Johnathan Banks, CB, Buccaneers: Started off the season hurt and got benched last Sunday.


These players make me look like a modern day Nostradamus as they continue putting up career numbers in 2015.

Brandon Williams, DT, Ravens: Even in a down year overall for the Ravens, Williams is clogging up the middle.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: He had a back injury in preseason, but has come on strong lately with six sacks on the year.

Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns: Even with some instability at quarterback, Benjamin is already at career highs in receptions (41), yards (623) and touchdowns (four) after nine games.

Virgil Green, TE, Broncos: OK, so his production hasn't exactly exploded, but he is only two off his career high of nine catches and is already 38 yards ahead of his previous career high of 74 yards. He's already has matched his career mark of one touchdown.

Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions: With seven sacks and three forced fumbles in eight games, Ansah is on his way to being elite.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: On pace for 132 catches, 12 touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards ... so, yeah.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs: Looks to be making a huge jump this year in every category, except touchdowns. *cranes neck at Alex Smith*

John Jenkins, DT, Saints: He has started eight out of nine games and already has more tackles than last season.

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders: After eight games, he's on pace for 1,260 yards rushing, six rushing touchdowns, 40-plus receptions and more than 200 receiving yards.

Melvin Ingram, LB, Chargers: Most importantly, Ingram's started all nine games and tied his career high with four sacks on the season.

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams: Still could be better utilized, but he's on pace for career highs in receptions (28), yards (300), receiving touchdowns (four), rushing yards (207) and rushing touchdowns (two) after eight games.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington: Even with him missing two games he is on pace for career highs in receptions (38), yards (368) and has as already notched a new career high in touchdowns with four in just six games.

Keeping Hope Alive!

These players haven't exactly broken out yet, but there is still a chance for the light bulb to come all the way on in the second half of the season.

Nigel Bradham, LB, Bills: Bradham hasn't played poorly, but for whatever reason his production has slipped just a little. I imagine his production can pick up quickly in the final eight games. There's a lot more running and a lot less throwing when the weather changes, which is right up his ally.

Tyrone Crawford, DT, Cowboys: He's on pace to just barely top his 2014 stats with two sacks in the first eight games. I still think he can do a lot more the rest of the way. The Cowboys will need him to.

Khaled Holmes, C, Colts: He started the first seven games, but didn't set the world on fire. Then, he missed the last two weeks in a row. The question now is whether or not his absence last week was due to a neck injury sustained in Week 8 or a coach's decision.

Johnathan Cyprien, S, Jaguars: He broke a finger in the preseason and got off to a slow start, missing two of the first three games with a calf injury. I loved what I saw from him last Sunday against the Jets. If he can continue playing that way the last eight games, there's a chance.

Brandon Graham, LB, Eagles: He has been very productive against the run, but doesn't have quite as many sacks as I expected. Sacks tend to come in bunches, and he got two against probably the best left tackle in the game last Sunday in a win over Dallas.

Justin Hunter, WR, Titans: He's on pace to have most receptions of his career this season, but his receiving yardage is way down and he's only scored one touchdown. Maybe with the coaching change and a healthy Mariota, Hunter can get back to stretching the field.


Injuries are a part of football, but man do they suck.

Alex Okafor, LB, Cardinals: Injured his calf, but he should be back in the lineup soon.

Sam Barrington, LB, Packers: Injured his foot in the first game. Placed on IR.

Dion Sims, TE, Dolphins: Missed several weeks with a concussion.

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Vikings: Had knee surgery. Damn shame, because he was off to a good start, too.

I kinda feel like it goes without saying, but feel free to leave your own critique of your team's breakout player.

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