Predicting Every NFL Team's 2016 Breakout Player

Russell S. BaxterContributor IMarch 22, 2016

Predicting Every NFL Team's 2016 Breakout Player

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Predicting in March what an NFL team will do during the regular season is hard enough.

    Forecasting how a player will perform this fall is a more difficult task.

    From those who never saw the field this past season to up-and-comers who finished strong in 2015, these players will make considerably more noise than they did a year ago. Whether it's a change of scenery or the right fit in a new system, things are looking up for these performers and their clubs.

Arizona Cardinals: RT D.J. Humphries

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    It was a lost season for the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

    Tackle D.J. Humphries stands at 6’5” and 307 pounds, but he stood on the sidelines his entire rookie season despite the fact he was healthy. That will change this year.

    “D.J. has really improved,” said Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians to Dan Bickley and Vince Marotta of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM in late January. “I would never tell him, but I would have played D.J. without hesitation in the second half of the season.”’

    Arians was also asked if the former University of Florida standout could be the team’s starting right tackle in 2016. “I would anticipate that,” said the coach.

    The Cardinals’ recent addition of right guard Evan Mathis will also play a major part in Humphries' development.

Atlanta Falcons: DT Grady Jarrett

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    Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

    Stopping the run has been an issue for the Atlanta Falcons in recent seasons.

    Of course, so has winning games. The team is a combined 18-30 the past three years. In 2012, the club was the NFC’s top seed with a 13-3 record.

    Back to that aforementioned rushing defense. In 2015, things were somewhat better as the Falcons allowed a somewhat-respectable 105 yards per game on the ground (14th in the NFL). Atlanta ranked 21st, 31st and 21st, respectively, the previous three seasons in this department.

    Part of the improvement came via the play of veteran Jonathan Babineaux. Some of it also came from rookie defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. The team’s fifth-round pick in 2015 was on the field for just 268 plays but graded out as the league’s 18th-best player at his position when it came to stopping the run, per Pro Football Focus.

    It’s not time to put Jarrett in the Pro Bowl just yet, but the former Clemson standout is primed for more playing time as head coach Dan Quinn fortifies the defense.

Baltimore Ravens: TE Maxx Williams

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    It was a miserable year in Baltimore as the Ravens came off their first losing season since 2007.

    General manager Ozzie Newsome is doing his best to avoid such another disaster. The team’s free-agent haul this offseason includes free safety Eric Weddle, wide receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Benjamin Watson.

    The latter is coming off a career year with the New Orleans Saints, which is good news for Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Watson gives the veteran signal-caller another experienced target.

    He will also prove to be a tutor for young tight ends Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams, who have a combined three years of NFL experience. The latter was a second-round pick in 2015.

    Williams played in 14 games, made seven starts and caught 32 passes—one fewer than Gillmore. But the former University of Minnesota product earned solid grades as a run-blocker as a rookie. He’s a complete package at the position, and Flacco will take advantage of those talents.

Buffalo Bills: QB Tyrod Taylor

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    Yes, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor wound up in the Pro Bowl this past year.

    Who didn’t?

    After appearing in just 14 games in four seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, he started 14 contests for Rex Ryan’s Buffalo Bills in 2015. The former Virginia Tech field general completed 63.7 percent of his passes, threw 20 touchdown passes and turned over the ball just seven times. Taylor ranked second on the team with 568 rushing yards and ran for four scores.

    Those are solid numbers, but the potential is there for more. The Bills led the NFL in rushing this past season, while wideout Sammy Watkins averaged an impressive 17.5 yards per reception on 60 catches and scored nine touchdowns.

    Taylor is entrenched as the team’s starter and not in a training-camp battle for a job, as was the case a year ago. That factor is reason enough for optimism in regards to the 26-year-old quarterback.

Carolina Panthers: DE Kony Ealy

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    There’s a lot to be said about first impressions. That also goes for the last thing you see.

    Carolina Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy had an MVP-like performance in Super Bowl 50 in what proved to be a losing effort against the Denver Broncos. The 24-year-old totaled four tackles and three sacks, picked off Peyton Manning once, forced a fumble and recovered another.

    In his first two seasons, Ealy has totaled 44 stops and nine sacks. He made nine starts this past year and finished fourth on the club with five sacks. With the retirement of Jared Allen, the 2014 second-round pick from the University of Missouri is now the regular at right defensive end.

    A double-digit sack performance is in the immediate future for Ealy, who has a penchant for creating turnovers (four forced fumbles in 31 regular-season games) as well.

Chicago Bears: NT Eddie Goldman

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    This offseason, the Chicago Bears have added needed talent to the league’s 14th-ranked defense from 2015.

    The signings of inside linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks should add up to good news for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

    The team already has some promising young talent on this side of the ball, including nose tackle Eddie Goldman. He comes off a rookie showing in which he made 12 starts, totaled 22 tackles and recorded 4.5 sacks.

    The most encouraging aspect in regard to his play is against the run. As shown by Pro Football Focus, a liability early in the season became a strength for the young defender as the year wore on.

    Chicago is making enormous strides on the defensive side of the ball. Goldman’s promising debut will be followed by an even better second season.

Cincinnati Bengals: CB Darqueze Dennard

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    In recent years, the Cincinnati Bengals have earned the moniker of being the deepest team in the league. Credit astute drafting by a team that doesn’t dip into the free-agent pool too often—unless it is to re-sign a player who used to be a member of the organization.

    The team’s depth at cornerback will be tested this season, but look for third-year pro Darqueze Dennard to respond in a big way. For now, the Bengals have opted not to re-sign veteran Leon Hall. Despite missing the final six games and the playoffs in 2015 with a torn labrum, the 2014 first-round pick will eventually slip into the starting lineup opposite Dre Kirkpatrick this fall.

    “I’m feeling good,” said Dennard when asked about his shoulder, per Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Doctors say I’m healing up pretty well. I’m still taking it slow. The season is still far off. The best thing right now is just make sure I’m healing right, doing the right things to prepare for next year.”

    Surrounded by Kirkpatrick and veteran Adam Jones, Dennard showed enough promise in a short time in 2015 to warrant much more playing time this upcoming season.

Cleveland Browns: RB Duke Johnson

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    Running back Isaiah Crowell rolled up a team-high 706 yards rushing (four touchdowns) for the Cleveland Browns this past season.

    However, rookie Duke Johnson outdid his backfield mate when it came to total yards from scrimmage. The 2015 third-round pick racked up 913 yards on the ground (379) and through the air (534), ranking third on the club with 61 catches.

    As the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator the past two seasons, new head coach Hue Jackson got plenty from running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. This upcoming season, Crowell and Johnson will be a more effective duo. However, it’s last year’s rookie from the University of Miami who will take center stage in the Cleveland offense.

Dallas Cowboys: CB Byron Jones

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    It was a down year for the Dallas Cowboys, but not all of the news was bad.

    Byron Jones finished his rookie season with 66 tackles and eight passes defensed. There were no interceptions or fumble recoveries for the 2015 first-round pick, which is hardly a surprise considering Jason Garrett’s team forced an NFL-low 11 turnovers.

    But a year of substantial playing time (16 games with 11 starts) is the key. No one in the Dallas secondary got a lot of support from a pass rush that produced only 31 sacks. However, Jones was a top-25 cornerback in the league when it came to his pass-coverage skills, according to Pro Football Focus.

    A little more help up front along with a year of experience under his shoulder pads will add up to big positives for the young defender who turns 24 in late September.

Denver Broncos: NT Sylvester Williams

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    It’s easy to get lost when you’re a member of the league’s top-ranked defense and your teammates include Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward.

    Denver Broncos nose tackle Sylvester Williams did his share in 2015 when it counted and will be called on to do even more this season. The free-agent defections of defensive end Malik Jackson and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan will ensure that.

    After a sluggish start, Williams played his best football of the season during Denver’s three-game postseason run on the way to capturing Super Bowl 50. He earned his highest grade of the year in the club’s 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in the Big Game.

    On a unit that will have several changes this upcoming season, the improving play of the 6’2”, 313-pound defender will wind up being a major factor.

Detroit Lions: DE Devin Taylor

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    By season’s end, the secret was out when it came to the defense of the Detroit Lions.

    A club that had struggled on that side of the football early in the year rounded into form as 2015 unfolded.

    A fourth-round pick in 2013, Devin Taylor played in 30 contests his first two years with the club and totaled 3.5 sacks.

    Despite not starting a game this past season, the 26-year-old project finished second on the team with seven sacks. The encouraging aspect of his play was that 4.5 of those quarterback traps came in the Lions’ final six games.

    Starting left defensive end Jason Jones remains unsigned, as do veterans Darryl Tapp and Corey Wootton. That spot now belongs to Taylor, who teams with Pro Bowler Ziggy Ansah as a pair of ends who will both reach double-digits in sacks in 2016.

Green Bay Packers: WR Ty Montgomery

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    Along went Jones?

    “They’re going to go with the young guys,” Frank Bauer told Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel. That was in reference to the Green Bay Packers showing no desire to bring back his client, wide receiver James Jones.

    The unrestricted free agent finished third on the team with 50 catches but led the Packers with 890 receiving yards and tied for the club lead with eight touchdown receptions in 2015.

    Green Bay has its share of talent and depth at wideout. And 2015 third-round pick Ty Montgomery will make this group even more formidable. Limited to six games in his rookie campaign, the former Stanford University product touched the ball 25 times, totaled 368 combined yards and caught a pair of touchdown passes.

    Look for a healthy Montgomery to assume a role similar to that Randall Cobb in his rookie season of 2011, when he saw action as a runner, receiver and return artist and racked up 1,616 total yards and three scores.

Houston Texans: QB Brock Osweiler

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    Quarterback Brock Osweiler’s decision to leave the Denver Broncos and sign with the Houston Texans was obviously a lot more than just about money.

    On March 21 at the owners meetings, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair gave Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com his thoughts on the signing of the four-year pro:

    I guess the thing that really helped us is that he does like our offense, and coach (Bill) O’Brien gives the quarterback a little more leeway at the line of scrimmage and all quarterbacks like that. I think that helped. And then of course he had played behind Peyton (Manning) and with (executive VP of football operations/GM) John Elway there. Their shadows were quite large. He was still going to be under that and compared to them. He has a chance to be a real hero in Houston. And we’ve got a good ball club so I think all those things entered into it.

    The opportunity to work with Bill O’Brien is the key. In his two seasons as head coach, the Texans have played seven different signal-callers (six starters). The team owns an 18-14 regular-season record, and those quarterbacks have combined to throw twice as many touchdown passes (49) as interceptions (25).

    Combine O’Brien’s tutelage and Osweiler’s showing in his seven starts with the Broncos and it adds up to a lot of success for the defending AFC South champions.

Indianapolis Colts: T/G Jack Mewhort

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    There haven’t been a lot of positives thrown the way of the Indianapolis Colts' offensive front in recent seasons. Not with the beating quarterback Andrew Luck has taken.

    Don’t blame versatile lineman Jack Mewhort. He has started 30 games in two seasons at left guard (27) and right tackle (three). After Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 29th-best guard in the league in his rookie campaign, he improved to 12th in the same category this past season. Only eight players at his position graded out higher in terms of run blocking, and Mewhort more than held his own in terms of pass protection.

    The Colts' best offensive lineman, the former Ohio State standout is on the verge of earning postseason honors.

Jacksonville Jaguars: CB Aaron Colvin

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    No cornerback played more snaps for the Jacksonville Jaguars this past season than two-year pro Aaron Colvin. And no performer at his position on the team earned a higher grade for his performance.

    The 2014 fourth-round pick finished fourth on the team with 73 tackles. He knocked down seven passes and forced one fumble. While Colvin failed to pick a pass (the Jaguars totaled only nine interceptions as a team), he tied for second on the club with four sacks.

    The symmetry here is quite remarkable, but that is not a good thing. Jacksonville ranked 29th in the league in pass defense and allowed 29 scores through the air in 2015. The signings of free agents such as safety Tashaun Gipson and cornerback Prince Amukamara will help. Their presence will make Colvin (who wears No. 29) a more dangerous entity.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR Chris Conley

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    One year after a Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver failed to catch a touchdown pass, free-agent pickup Jeremy Maclin brought a lot to the table in 2015. The former Eagles standout hauled in eight of quarterback Alex Smith’s 20 scores.

    All told, Chiefs wideouts combined for a dozen touchdown grabs this past season. One of those came from rookie Chris Conley, who caught 17 passes for 199 yards and one score in the regular season. The 2015 third-round pick from the University of Georgia added six receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown in two postseason games.

    Maclin and Albert Wilson are the regulars, and the Chiefs added slot receiver Rod Streater in free agency. Conley made five starts this past season, but look for that number to increase and his catch total to more than double in 2016.

Los Angeles Rams: S T.J. McDonald

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    It’s going to be a different defensive unit in a new/old venue when it comes to the Rams.

    Gone are defensive end Chris Long and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, as well as cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod.

    Jeff Fisher’s club gave up its share of yards this past season, but the defensive unit allowed only 28 offensive touchdowns.

    Three-year safety T.J. McDonald has played and started 37 games in his career and has been a steady force for this club when healthy. Shoulder surgery ended his 2015 season after 11 games, but he finished with 63 tackles, ranking eighth on the club. One year earlier, he was all over the field and ranked third on the team with 105 stops.

    More will be expected of the 2013 third-round pick from USC, so look for him to respond in a positive way as the Rams secondary undergoes a transformation of sorts.

Miami Dolphins: RB Jay Ajayi

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    Running back Lamar Miller racked up some big numbers the last two seasons for the Miami Dolphins.

    Unless the franchise has other plans, second-year pro Jay Ajayi will look to do the same in 2016.

    Yes, the Dolphins have explored free agency, looking for some help in the backfield. They signed Denver Broncos restricted free agent C.J. Anderson to an offer sheet, but the defending Super Bowl champions matched the deal.

    Last week, as reported by Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald, the team had Chris Johnson in for a visit. He opted to re-sign with the Arizona Cardinals.

    Miami should look no farther than last year’s fifth-round draft choice from Boise State, a potential workhorse. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that new head coach Adam Gase has a definitive plan when it comes to the backfield. Ryan Tannehill, via Salguero, implied that Ajayi is up to the challenge.

    For now, the Dolphins have little choice. As the year unfolds, it will prove to be the right option.

Minnesota Vikings: DE Danielle Hunter

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    The Minnesota Vikings totaled 43 sacks in 2015. Not surprisingly, Everson Griffen led the club with 10.5 of them.

    Did anyone notice that defensive end Danielle Hunter finished second on the club with six sacks? A third-round pick one year ago, the LSU product also totaled 33 tackles in 14 games—making just one start. A total of 3.5 sacks came in the team’s final four contests as the rookie saw playing time at both defensive end spots during the season. He also earned solid grades for his play against the run.

    With Brian Robison entering his 10th season, Hunter could push the press defender for a spot in the starting lineup. Don’t be surprised when the 21-year-old defensive end is in the Week 1 lineup.

New England Patriots: WR Chris Hogan

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    Last week, the New England Patriots signed restricted free-agent wide receiver Chris Hogan to a three-year, $12 million offer sheet. The Buffalo Bills wasted little time announcing that they would not match the price.

    Now, the former undrafted pass-catcher, who had 87 receptions for 959 yards and six scores the past three seasons, could equal those numbers in one season thanks to the Pats’ pass-happy offense and the accuracy of quarterback Tom Brady.

    What does the future hold for wideout Danny Amendola, who has battled injuries throughout his NFL career? The writing could be on the wall for the veteran receiver. Last week, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk speculated that Amendola could be on his way due to the recent additions of Hogan and tight end Martellus Bennett.

    That same wall says that Brady will have a new starting wideout opposite Julian Edelman.

New Orleans Saints: WR Willie Snead

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    The big-play component for the New Orleans Saints offense these days is wide receiver Brandin Cooks. He totaled 84 catches for 1,138 yards and nine scores.

    But Willie Snead is certainly gaining ground. He finally took the field in 2015 and finished third on the club with 69 catches and second to Cooks with 984 receiving yards.

    With the offseason release of veteran wideout Marques Colston, there’s an opening in the starting lineup. Look for Snead to build on his first year of action and give quarterback Drew Brees a pair of explosive targets who will both reach the 1,000-yard receiving mark in 2016.

New York Giants: C Weston Richburg

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    Talk about all the right moves?

    As a rookie in 2014, New York Giants’ second-round pick Weston Richburg started 15 games at left guard and struggled.

    This past season, the former Colorado State product shifted further inside to center. Only Minnesota’s Joe Berger and Dallas’ Travis Frederick were ranked higher at the position.

    A second consecutive year of snapping the ball to quarterback Eli Manning will result in big things for Richburg, such as a Pro Bowl invite. More importantly, the Giants hope the young pivot can be the centerpiece for better play along the offensive line.

New York Jets: LG James Carpenter

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    In his four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, offensive lineman James Carpenter never started every game in the regular season for Pete Carroll’s club.

    That changed in his first year as a member of the New York Jets.

    A first-round pick by Seattle in 2011, the 27-year-old performer came of age this past season with his new club. In 16 outings, he earned a positive grade (plus-9.9) from Pro Football Focus for his play. One year earlier (including the Seahawks’ three-game postseason run), the former University of Alabama product also started 16 contests, but his grade (minus-10.8) was considerably lower.

    The best is yet to come for Carpenter, who will build on his exceptional play in his debut with Todd Bowles’ club.

Oakland Raiders: CB David Amerson

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    A second-round pick by the Washington Redskins in 2013, cornerback David Amerson spent two-plus seasons with the club. After one game this past season, the team cut him loose.

    The Oakland Raiders picked him up, and the change turned out to be a huge positive. He was named Pro Football Focus’ Most Improved Player of 2015. Amerson totaled 58 tackles, four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and an astounding 25 passes defensed in 14 games. It was the kind of reclamation project this franchise was known for in the 1970s and ‘80s.

    Some may call Amerson’s 2015 performance that of the breakout variety. But his overall play will only get better this upcoming season thanks to the Raiders’ free-agent acquisition of veteran cornerback Sean Smith.

Philadelphia Eagles: NT Bennie Logan

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    If the Philadelphia Eagles are going to improve on the league’s 30th-ranked defense from a year ago, they appear to have found the right man in Jim Schwartz.

    When he was last employed, the Buffalo Bills finished fourth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed and were a respectable 11th in rushing defense in 2014.

    That’s where interior defensive lineman Bennie Logan comes into play. PEr Pro Football Focus, his improvement against the run over the course of the last two years has been dramatic.

    To date, Schwartz hasn’t committed to playing the 4-3 or the 3-4 with the Birds. In an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano last month (via ESPN.com’s Phil Sheridan), the coach stated that “just about everything that we’re going to do defensively hasn’t been determined yet. Other than a philosophy—attack and try to be around the quarterback.”

    “I think you make a mistake if you predetermine, go in with a scheme and say this is what we’re going to do scheme-wise,” added Schwartz. “I think the best system is to find out what the players do the best.”

    What Logan does best is stuff the run, despite the fact that the Eagles ranked last in the league in that department this past season. The 2013 third-round pick from LSU is about to come into his own under his new defensive boss.

Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Sammie Coates

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    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was without All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown in the 2015 AFC divisional round at Denver.

    He still managed to throw for 339 yards against the league’s top-ranked defense. Martavis Bryant led the team that day with nine catches for 154 yards in place of Brown. Rookie wideout Sammie Coates caught two passes for 61 yards in the game.

    Last week (via Marc Sessler of NFL.com), the league suspended Bryant for the 2016 season for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. That means Coates will again step into the third wideout role.

    It won’t be a surprise when the 2015 third-round pick from Auburn picks up where he left off against the Broncos in the playoffs.

San Diego Chargers: RB Melvin Gordon

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    Look who is back in San Diego?

    That’s not a reference to the Chargers. That’s a different topic altogether. It’s Ken Whisenhunt, the team’s offensive coordinator in 2013 before moving on to become the head coach of the Tennessee Titans.

    That will mean good things for second-year running back Melvin Gordon. The 15th overall selection in last April’s draft led the Bolts with just 641 yards rushing and also totaled 33 receptions for 192 yards. So much for the good news.

    The former University of Wisconsin standout failed to score a touchdown. To make matters worse, he fumbled six times and lost four of those miscues.

    However, it’s Whisenhunt to the rescue. In 2013, the Chargers' ground game ranked 13th in the league with him on the staff. San Diego slipped to 30th in the NFL one year later, and this past season, only the Detroit Lions gained fewer yards rushing.

    The return of the offensive coach is good news for quarterback Philip Rivers. It will prove to be an even better move for Gordon.

San Francisco 49ers: DE Arik Armstead

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    There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about football-wise in San Francisco as of late (unless you were a Denver Broncos fan the first weekend in February).

    The 49ers have been a quiet organization this offseason, with the biggest news being the hiring of head coach Chip Kelly.

    One of general manager Trent Baalke’s priorities is not only rebuilding the team via the draft but hoping that prospects from the last past few years come of age.

    Defensive end Arik Armstead will be one of those emerging factors in 2016. The team’s first-round pick one year ago totaled 19 tackles and a pair of sacks in 16 appearances. The 22-year-old performer didn’t start a game as a rookie, but that changes in a big way this season as the Niners look to improve the NFL’s 29th-ranked defensive unit of 2015.

Seattle Seahawks: DE Frank Clark

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    This past season, the Seattle Seahawks finished with 37 sacks. More than half of them were amassed by the trio of Michael Bennett (10), Cliff Avril (nine) and Bruce Irvin (5.5).

    Fourth on the list of the team’s sack leaders was rookie defensive end Frank Clark, who got to the opposing quarterback three times and also added 16 stops, two passes defensed and one forced fumble.

    The 6’3”, 272-pounder was a second-round pick in 2015. It would be a big shock if the former University of Michigan product unseated either Bennett or Avril in the starting lineup; however, Irvin’s departure opens the door for an expanded role for Clark—who was on the field for just 330 defensive plays in 2015, per Pro Football Focus.

    The former Wolverine will make the most of his opportunity by notching eight to 10 sacks.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins

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    There were times last season where you could have sworn that tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was the team’s main big-play option.

    That’s because when he was on the field, he was hard to miss. The 6’5”, 262-pound target averaged an impressive 16.1 yards per catch on 21 receptions and tied for the team lead with four touchdown grabs. Two of his scores covered 41 and 43 yards.

    However, the 2014 second-round selection missed nine games with a shoulder injury. He would return in Week 13 to total 14 catches (two for touchdowns) in the club’s final five outings.

    Another summer of experience with quarterback Jameis Winston is going to add up to even bigger things for the massive tight end. Look for Seferian-Jenkins to be the young signal-caller’s second-favorite target in 2016 behind wideout Mike Evans. His reception numbers will at least double this upcoming season.

Tennessee Titans: WR Dorial Green-Beckham

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    Of the 10 players who caught double-digit passes for the Tennessee Titans in 2015, rookie wideout Dorial Green-Beckham was far and away the most explosive option.

    The 22-year-old target, selected in the second round last spring, finished fourth on the team with 32 catches. But only tight end Delanie Walker (1,088) totaled more receiving yards than the former University of Oklahoma product. Green-Beckham averaged a gaudy 17.2 yards per reception and ranked second on the Titans with four touchdown catches.

    Another training camp with 2015 draft classmate Marcus Mariota will add up to the formation of one of the league’s youngest and most dangerous quarterback-wide receiver tandems.

Washington Redskins: OLB Trent Murphy

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    The Washington Redskins parlayed a season-ending four-game losing streak into a division title in 2015. However, quarterback Kirk Cousins and the offense didn’t get a lot of support from the other side of the ball.

    Only four teams allowed more total yards than Jay Gruden’s club did this past season. Washington gave up 23.7 points per contests, the worst among the 12 teams to make the playoffs.

    In two seasons, outside linebacker Trent Murphy has flashed big-play ability. When this year is all said and done, he will live up his status as a second-round pick in 2014. A total of 31 games have added up to six sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

    The Redskins have spent this offseason adding some young free agents and weeding out a few veterans. Murphy is one of those building blocks who will break out in a big way this fall.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all player and team statistics come from Pro-Football-Reference and ESPN.com. All player ratings courtesy of Pro Football Focus. All 2016 contract terms and 2016 transactions are courtesy of Spotrac.