Breakout Players: DC/Bmore i295 Edition
Let's face it, with retirement, injuries and player deflections, if you want your favorite football team to make noise, then somebody's going to have to step up. Players breakout every year and become household names with strong seasons.
While there's probably more than a handful of guys on the Redskins and Ravens rosters ready to breakout, I figured you wouldn't want to read all that and I wouldn't want to write all that, so to make it easy on both of us, I just listed the key guys essential to their teams success in '09.
Regardless of how they finished last season, neither the Ravens or Redskins finished in the Super Bowl, so apparently there's room for improvement. If either team plans on going to Disney World after next February, here are the guys ready to breakout and take them there.
Flacco primed and poised to show '08 was no fluke
Perry Green, my colleague at the Afro-American Newspaper in Baltimore, makes it his daily routine to bring me up to date on Flacco’s greatness at least three times a day during the week. In the morning before he signs in, in the afternoon when I get back from lunch, and once again at the end of the day before he leaves the office.
Even though I tactfully and sarcastically shoot down his praises every single time, it’s only out of good humor, the truth is, I think Flacco is the real deal. Super arm strength, better than average mobility and the poise of a London Royal Guard (you know, those guards in London with the big hats who can't move, laugh or flinch), Flacco’s rookie season was extremely impressive.
Although Flacco has already enjoyed a breakout season of sorts, if he can have a monster season coming out of tiny Delaware, I’m eager to see what he can do with a full season in the league under his belt.
If Matt Ryan hadn’t performed a search and rescue mission in Atlanta after the Michael Vick disaster, Flacco would probably be sitting in his living room looking up at the Rookie of the Year award right now.
For all the good things the former Blue Hen did last year, the fact that he lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game in his first year out of a FCS school if you don’t know the difference between a FCS school and a BCS school, it’s like comparing Radio Shack to Best Buy) signs the ticket for me.
The Ravens brought the 6-foot-6 signal caller along slowly last year, enforcing a power running game and playing smothering defense to make life easier for the rookie. With well-respected veteran, Derrick Mason, retiring a couple of weeks ago and a few key departures off of Ray Lewis’ unit, expect Flacco to be pushed into more of a leadership role on offense.
If last year was any inclination, he’s more than ready for the challenge.
If Kelly can take the next step, Washington can take the big leap forward
Even though I think Devin Thomas is extremely talented, Kelly gets the nod from me for the breakout candidate between the two. Thomas was pretty much a one-year wonder at Michigan State before being drafted in the second round of last year’s draft, which leads me to believe he still has a ways to go in mastering his craft.
Kelly on the other hand, produced from the first game of his freshman campaign to the moment he left school as a junior at Oklahoma. I just feel confident that even with a throwaway season last year, Kelly is ready to explode on the scene as the more polished wideout between the two.
If not for a sweet 16ish-like outburst during the combines last year, Kelly probably would’ve been the first wideout selected in 2008’s draft. Yet a so-so 40 time and a fallout with his trainers eradicated any chances of Kelly coming off the board in the early picks.
Equipped with strong hands, body control and the size and hops of a shooting guard, the freestyle king (no joke, kid can flow, check his youtube) fits the mode of the prototype new age wideout that everybody wants nowadays.
The 6-foot-4, 218 pound prospect has the goods to take Washington’s offense to the next level. If he can stay healthy and adjust to the West Coast offense, the sky’s the limit for this immensely talented youngster.
And even if he doesn’t cut it at wideout, the Skins can always turn to Thomas and Kelly can always turn to the rap industry.