Since I did a breakout pass rushers article a couple of weeks ago and had so much fun, I thought I’d take a look at another position group this week.
This time I thought I’d take a look at QB’s. First off, I didn’t select any rookies. It’s too soon to tell in any regard, and have you seen this year’s draft class? I’m not confident any of the rookies will start this season outside of E.J. Manuel and possible Geno Smith. There are a few other with a chance (hello Tyler Wilson), but generally, ugh!
Also, I didn’t pick guys like Andrew Luck who pretty much already broke out last year. Will he be better in his sophomore season? Probably. But I still don’t think you can say Andrew Luck is a “breakout” candidate.
Finally, I picked guys that I think have the best chance to go from bad/obscure/criticized/backup to good or starting this year, depending on where they began on the good-to-bad scale.
So without further ado (because we all know that too much “ado” can be very detrimental to ones wellbeing), I present to you my top five breakout quarterback candidates for 2013:
1. Sam Bradford, St. Louis
Bradford is entering a critical year. Drafted number one in 2010, Bradford is entering his fourth season and while he’s shown flashes of being a top caliber QB, he hasn’t shown the kind of production the Rams were hoping for out of their franchise signal caller. Part of that has been slow development, part of it coaching changes, and much of it has been a really, really weak supporting cast. While Bradford was getting beat up and throwing the ball to the likes of a hurt Danny Amendola and non-McDaniels Brandon Lloyd, the Rams were amping up on defense. St. Louis has quietly assembled one of the top young defensive lines in football, and they have top talent in both the secondary and the linebacker corps. This is the year though. Even with the departure of Steven Jackson, Amendola, and Brandon Gibson, Bradford will have new toys to play with in rookies Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey and free agent pick up Jared Cook. Additionally, the Rams brought in Jake Long to be their new starting LT, and Daryl Richardson showed last year he’s ready for a bigger role in the backfield. The time is now for Sam Bradford.
2. Ryan Tannehill, Miami
Any other season, we’d be talking about Ryan Tannehill as someone who had a productive rookie season. With one of the worst receiving corps this side of St. Louis, Tannehill put up nearly 3,300 yards last year as a rookie. He had very few playmakers on offense and he still managed to lead the team to a 7-9 record. The Dolphins had a good defense, but not an elite one. They had a good running back, but not a chain moving one. They had a pair of decent receivers, but no one that defenses were scared of. This year, Tannehill will have a homerun hitter in Mike Wallace to throw to, as well as a reliable TE in Dustin Keller. Thrown in Brandon Gibson, second year back Lamar Miller, and right tackle Tyson Clabo, and the Dolphins offense should look much different in Tannehill’s second year. The dominant play of guys like Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson overshadowed what would be considered a solid year for a rookie. This year, he needs to throw more touchdowns and get that completion percentage up from 58% to about 62%, but the stage is set for a breakout campaign, and fans in Miami have reason to be cautiously optimistic.
3. Jake Locker, Tennessee
This is a make or break year for Locker. Locker will be entering his third season in Tennessee, and in that time he’s shown promise and ability, along with frightening inconsistency and accuracy issues. What has hurt him the most however, has been his inability to stay healthy. When he’s been healthy, he’s shown the ability to be a playmaker, and he has a group of young WR’s that are primed to grow with him in Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, and rookie Justin Hunter. Locker needs to work on his fundamentals, stay on the field, and take a step forward, but he has the talent and the receiving corps (not to mention the addition of guards Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack) to succeed this season.
4. Chad Henne, Jacksonville
The Jaguars were bad last year. I mean, really bad. However, this year, they add Luke Joeckel to the mix on the O-Line, and they still have Justin Blackman, Cecil Shorts, and a (hopefully) healthy Maurice Jones-Drew. And the big surprise is that Chad Henne didn’t suck last year. I know, I was shocked too! I mean, he wasn’t particularly good either, but he wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Jacksonville, and he showed the ability to make plays downfield. I’m not saying Henne takes Jacksonville to the playoffs this year, but I consider the much maligned former Dolphin to be a breakout candidate, because if he becomes adequate starter, instead of horrible backup, then that’s a breakout season in this league.
5. Carson Palmer, Arizona
How can a 33-year old guy who broke out in 2005 and has nearly 30,000 career passing yards be a “breakout” candidate for the 2013? By proving that he isn’t done yet. Palmer has always thrown too many picks and he’s been inconsistent at times in his career, but it’s amazing to me how many people have forgotten how well he can sling it. Sure he threw 14 picks a year ago, but he was playing for the Raiders, and he still managed over 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns. He gets no respect. This year, he plays for a Cardinals team that has upgraded their horrendous offensive line, has elite talent at WR, and has an elite level defense. The Cardinals had the worst QB unit in the league last year, but with only adequate play from Palmer in 2013, they could take a huge step forward. Oh, and he’s throwing to Larry Fitzgerald. That’s how he becomes a breakout candidate at age 33.