Denvers Chris Harris is poised to breakout in 2012. Photo by Kellen Micah/ICON SMI
I think there are five AFC West players poised for having a breakout season in 2012. These guys have been on the brink of blowing up and I believe they will do so this year. Feel free to post anyone from the AFC West you see poised for a breakout season, in the comments below.
1 Ryan Matthews Running Back San Diego Chargers
I already rank Ryan Matthews as the best running back in the AFC West as you can see here. But I feel Matthews is ready to become one of the best running backs in the NFL due in part to the Chargers offensive system.
Matthews plays in the Norv Turner system which ironically descends from the old Chargers “Air Coryell” offense. Well Turner needs that running back to keep the defenses from keying on the passing attack. Matthews will get the carries this year if he can limit his fumbles. I see Matthews having a breakout season with 1,400 yards or more rushing in 2012.
2 DeMarcus Van Dyke CB- Oakland Raiders
I like DeMarcus Van Dyke of the Raiders who was a third round pick last season. Van Dyke only started four games and played in 12 last season. I think Van Dyke like most will benefit from a full training camp this offseason.
Van Dyke made one interception in 2011 and had 10 tackles plus an assist. I think he may be the starter this year and I like his chances to have a really nice season for the Oakland Raiders.
3 Justin Houston LB- Kansas City Chiefs
Like Van Dyke ,Houston was a rookie in 2011. Justin Houston started 10 games and played in all 16 for the Chiefs last year. With 5 and half sacks and over 40 tackles Justin Houston was solid as rookie.
Houston is poised to have a breakout season in 2012 with a defensive oriented staff headed by Romeo Crenel. I think he can have 10 sacks and 80 to 100 tackles this year for the Chiefs.
4 Chris Harris DB-Denver Broncos
Chris Harris was a third round draft pick last year who had 60 tackles along with 15 assists in his rookie season. Harris also picked off one pass but was known for involving himself in tackles.
Look for Harris to be even more active with a full training camp under new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. I think Harris will get some Pro Bowl consideration with the season he will have.
5 Jon Baldwin WR- Kansas City Chiefs
Baldwin was highly regarded coming out of college but ran into some snags as a rookie in Kansas City. The shortened offseason due to the lockout hurt all rookies but especially wideouts. Injuring himself in a fight with Chiefs running back Thomas Jones did not help him any.
Bu tBaldwin came on to catch 21 passes for 254 yards despite the muddled quarterback situation with the Chiefs last year. Look for Baldwin to have a breakout season in 2012 with 50 catches for 800 yards and six scores or so.