Sometimes everything comes together just right. The planets align and you know something big is going to happen. I believe that is the case with Devin Hester this year. Here’s why.
Stability at the Quarterback Position
The acquisition of Jay Cutler will be huge for Hester’s development. We all know Cutler is a durable pro bowl caliber quarterback with a rocket arm. We have all heard that, but what I haven’t heard discussed is the deep ball.
Cutler throws an amazing deep ball, even in extreme conditions. His deep ball gets there quickly and is very accurate. I remember seeing multiple instances last year of Hester running deep and Orton missing him by a solid four or five yards.
In at least two or three of these plays, Hester was deeper than the safeties, and we all know at this point he is as good as gone. The increased threat of the deep ball make his numbers sure to rise.
Jay Cutler and his deep ball are one major part of this perfect storm.
Guaranteed Playing Time
Through Hester’s first couple years at wide out he wasn’t a starter. As a matter of fact, he didn’t start a game in 2007 and he only started eight games last year. To this point, Hester has been used largely in situational offense.
This year Hester is being treated like the teams No. 1 guy. This will obviously add pressure and mean he will be covered by better DB’s, but it will also mean he will be on the field for a lot more pays. Even if the team adds a Marshall or a Burress, Hester will be on the field for almost every snap.
Has Hester developed enough to handle the No. 1 spot? That has yet to be seen, but his speed and ability to change direction make him a threat against anyone in any secondary. This also leads me into the third part of the perfect storm.
Third Year is the Breakout Year
Devin Hester is going into his fourth NFL season, but remember: This is only his third year playing wide out. It is a tough position to learn, this is especially true for someone who didn’t play it in college.
The third year is widely considered a break out year for receivers. It has been said by a lot of receivers that it takes until the third year before everything clicks. Hester will be coming into his third year.
Hester has now had three years and two full off season to hone his skills. He should have the experience to make a difference if you combine this with the role of a full time starter as well as a pro bowl quarterback and you have the recipe for a perfect storm.
I expect a big breakout year by Hester. I don’t think a 1000 yard season is out of the question and at minimum, even if there is another big receiver signed, he should be able to fill the role that Berrian used to play.
Count on Hester gaining at least 900 yards and four touchdowns.
If you are interested in some other breakout candidates, I did up a wide receivers going into their third year (including sleepers) here: