Before we begin, let me define how I have compiled this list. By "breakthrough," I am referring to players who haven't yet reached their potential and are due for a coming-out party.
For example, I believe that Corey Webster and Steve Smith will have great seasons for Big Blue in '09, but they have already established themselves as star players.
Let me get it out of the way now, no rookies made the list. Throwing rookies into game situations right away isn't part of the Giants' philosophy.
While I do feel that rookie WR Hakeem Nicks could make an early impact, it is unlikely that he will put up big numbers in just his first year. After all, wide receiver is the hardest position (aside from QB) to adapt to in the NFL as a rookie.
So, without further ado, let's continue on to the list itself.
Though solid in his rookie season, cornerback Aaron Ross has yet to truly become the lock-down corner the Giants had hoped when they drafted him in the first round two years ago.
Last season, Ross struggled mightily against some of the more premiere wide receivers in the game.
Corey Webster on the other hand (Ross' teammate), had the second best statistical season for a cornerback last year behind Nnamdi Asomugha of the Raiders, and didn't even make the Pro Bowl.
Webster has become an elite corner, feared by offenses, which should force teams to throw a lot of balls Ross' way. Hopefully he'll be ready for it because this year will be a huge opportunity for him to prove that he too is a star.
Also, with the defensive line receiving some reinforcements this past offseason, quarterbacks may give up a lot of turnovers from the pressure the D-line will be getting.
On top of all that, back-up corner Terrell Thomas, who currently plays in Nickel packages, could legitimately push Ross for that starting job on the outside.
I look for Ross to rise to the occasion in '09 and have a very solid year.
I can't believe I'm actually putting wide receiver Sinorice Moss on this list and I recognize that I'm definitely going out on a limb with this one.
It's mainly because of how prone to injuries he is (currently he's nursing a hamstring pull he sustained in mini-camp) and the fact that for such little production he's had in his brief career, he manages to always receive all the hype in the offseason.
Nevertheless, I have a feeling that he is just as frustrated as the fans are with where he is at this point of his career.
He finally has the greatest opportunity to see serious playing time and knows the reads and playbook better than most receivers on the roster.
Everything is predicated on whether Moss can stay healthy, because lately, he's been his own worst enemy. His speed and play-making ability could make him the down field threat the offense needs.
I look for Moss to possibly take Smith's old position in the slot and prove that he's not a bust... yet!
The small, speedy running back, Ahmad Bradshaw, is going to tear it up this season.
His rookie year, Bradshaw proved to be an excellent complementary back to Brandon Jacobs. Last season, Bradshaw was overshadowed by the emergence of Derrick Ward.
With Ward now in Tampa Bay (good luck running behind that O-line Derrick!), Bradshaw looks to reclaim his role.
The competition he'll have in camp with Danny Ware and Andre Brown probably won't be able to overtake him as the lead back-up, but should help bring out the best in him.
Ahmad may also get plenty of carries if Jacobs falls prey to another injury late in the season.
The Giants acquired the mammoth defensive tackle and former Cowboy in Chris Canty, via free agency over the offseason. At 6'7" and 304 lbs., Canty certainly has an imposing stature.
I think he will be Fred Robbins' heir apparent and fill in seamlessly. Canty will thrive with the one-on-one matchups he'll be getting because of who the Giants defensive ends are: Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck.
Opposing offenses will have no idea how to block all of the monsters on the Giants defensive line and someone will be the beneficiary.
I think it will be Chris Canty, clogging the middle, knocking down passes and sacking the quarterback.
He was an excellent pick-up for the Giants in free agency and should be able to make an immediate impact even though he is transitioning to a 4-3 defensive scheme.
Free safety Kenny Phillips was an easy choice to be my number one breakthrough player this year.
Kenny played for Miami in college, a school that has quite a reputation for producing stud safeties in the NFL such as Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle, Sean Taylor and Brandon Meriweather.
Phillips had a very nice, although quiet, rookie season playing behind veteran James Butler who left to play for last year's defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo now in St. Louis.
I think that Phillips will undoubtedly make a name for himself this season and quickly become a top-flight safety in the league.
He won't be a ball hawk like Ed Reed, but will probably be in the same mold as Brian Dawkins, a hard-hitting, punishing safety.
Look for Kenny Phillips to possibly make the Pro Bowl this year and become the face of the defensive back corps for the Giants for many seasons to come.