Monday, August 19, 2013

5 comments Bleacher Report Predicts 2013 Breakout Stars, May as Well Just List 2012 Draft Picks for Each NFL Team

I don't know why Bleacher Report can shock me, but it can still happen. There is a list of breakout NFL stars posted in a slideshow/column and 19 of the 32 choices are either 1st or 2nd year players who were 1st or 2nd round draft picks. It seems like at times the author simply looks at the list of first round draft picks for a team and then says that player will breakout. The list also includes Reggie Bush, because, well because. Who knows if these guys will breakout or not, but don't be lazy and just choose this year's high draft choices and last year's high draft choices for almost 60% of the choices. At least try a little bit harder to pick breakout stars rather than relying on each team's first round draft choice for 2012 and 2013. It feels lazy to me, but I guess when you are tasked to write 10 columns a week you have to get a little lazy with a few of them.

It seems that every NFL season brings a handful of players who breakout to become stars. These players are the ones who completely outplay every expectation that they have heading into Week 1.

And of course no one should expect a 2012 or 2013 first round draft choice to become a star player. Usually those guys are drafted to become career backups, right? Also, Sam Bradford is on this list. I would love to know how a quarterback drafted #1 overall can outplay every expectation we have for him. Unless Bradford turns into Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady this season I would expect the #1 overall draft pick to make a few Pro Bowls and not consider this outplaying expectations.

Today, we're going to project each NFL team's breakout star in 2013.

Thrilling. I love a list of first and second round draft choices from this year and next year. Let's start the slideshow!

Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR

And we are off with the author naming first round picks from last year for each team as the breakout player.

Atlanta Falcons: Desmond Trufant, CB

Atlanta's first round pick this year. This slideshow didn't take much time to put together. Figure out the first and second round picks for each NFL team last year and this year, then make that guy the breakout player. Boom, done.

Baltimore Ravens: Courtney Upshaw, OLB

Buffalo Bills: Stephon Gilmore, CB

2012 second and first round picks respectively.

Last year wasn't easy for cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Both Gilmore and the Bills struggled throughout the season, with Gilmore finishing as the 80th-best cornerback in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

With 32 teams in the NFL, that makes Gilmore an average nickel corner. Not horrendous, but also not what is expected of a first round pick that could will breakout the very next year.

However, where Gilmore excelled as a rookie was in pass coverage. Receivers only had a catch percentage of 56.3 against Gilmore. That wasn't the best percentage in the league, but it was a great showing of how talented Gilmore is in coverage.

Without any type of perspective on what other receivers in the NFL averaged against other cornerbacks in the NFL this 56.3% may or may not be excellent. Perspective compared to other cornerbacks is required. What if 56.3% is 98th in the NFL among cornerbacks? That would make this statistic not-so-excellent.

Carolina Panthers: Josh Norman, CB

Much like Stephon Gilmore, cornerback Josh Norman struggled throughout his rookie season. However, whereas Gilmore proved he was great in coverage, Norman didn't quite do that.

At least the author chose a late round pick, but he still chose a 2012 draft pick. Back to Gilmore briefly, how is the 80th best cornerback "great" in coverage? I still need some comparables to the 56.3% completion percentage that Gilmore gave up to know whether that is "great" or not. Not to mention, where are the statistics that show Norman wasn't great in coverage? The author uses stats to show how "great" Gilmore was, but he just states Norman wasn't great but provides no context or factual support for this statement. Having watched all of his games played last year I know that Norman wasn't great, but if where is the statistic showing he wasn't great and how the author believes Norman can turn it around?

Either commit to using statistics or don't. If you are going to use statistics then you need to consistently give statistics when making a statement about the player or comparing him to another player at the same position. And also, when comparing Player X to Player Y at the same position, it helps to use the same statistics to show Player X is "great" at something while Player Y is not great at something.

Chicago Bears: Alshon Jeffery, WR

Cincinnati Bengals: Devon Still, DT

2012 second round pick for the Bears and Bengals. It's a trend.

Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB

So the Browns first round pick who ran for 950 yards and had 11 rushing touchdowns is a breakout candidate? I would say Richardson came pretty close to breaking out last year since he put up 1317 total yards last year while being injured for a good portion of the year. 

The amount of pure talent that Richardson has is just ridiculous.


Dallas Cowboys: Morris Claiborne, CB

Yes, maybe the #5 overall pick in the 2012 draft will breakout this year. Again, the trend continues. 

Detroit Lions: Reggie Bush, RB

Bush is going into his 8th year in the NFL and has rushed for 1000 yards once and missed rushing for 1000 yards by 14 yards last year. Bush has 6892 total career yards along with 44 career touchdowns. I'm not sure he is a breakout candidate at this point. 

In terms of playmaking abilities, few backs have the natural skills that Bush does. However, Bush was never able to put his full talents on display for either the New Orleans Saints or Miami Dolphins.

Or what he put on display for these teams is the full extent of his talents. There's that line of thought too. 

Not only will he be a valuable weapon in the passing game, but he should also excel on the ground due to the opposing defenses' unbalanced attention toward Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

Because that's worked so well for the numerous other running backs the Lions have started alongside Stafford and Johnson over the last four years. 

Green Bay Packers: Nick Perry, OLB

Stop me if you have heard this one before. Nick Perry is the Packers 2012 1st round draft pick. I can write next year's "breakout column" from Bleacher Report right now. I'll just choose every 2013 first or second round pick for each NFL team and say he is the breakout player for that team during 2014. 

While Perry struggled at times, it was definitely easy to see that he was a young and talented player.

Yeah, it was definitely easy to see that Nick Perry was young. He looked young, he had just come out of college, and he was a rookie, so the signs were all there that Perry was young. 

Houston Texans: Jared Crick, DE

At least Crick is a 2012 fourth round pick. That's some sense of improvement. 

Even though it's hard to see him surpassing either J.J. Watt or Antonio Smith on the depth chart, Crick should still see the field often enough to make a big impact for the Houston Texans.

So how is "seeing the field" and making a big impact as a backup not expected of a fourth round pick? Isn't that what NFL teams want in a fourth round pick? They aren't looking for a starter, but a guy who can make an impact as a backup? I don't see how this would qualify Crick as a breakout star. 

Indianapolis Colts: Coby Fleener, TE

The Colts 2012 second round pick. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonathan Cyprien, SS

Few rosters lack legitimate stars like the Jacksonville Jaguars do. That's why second-round pick Jonathan Cyprien is the breakout star candidate for the Jaguars.

So if the Jaguars had stars on the roster at positions like wide receiver, quarterback, or linebacker then Cyprien would NOT be a breakout star? How would Cyprien's ability to play the safety position have anything to do with the number of "stars" on the Jaguars roster? Whether Cyprien has a breakout season or not is irrelevant when it comes to how many "stars" a team has on their roster. It's not like Cyprien would play worse or fail to exceed expectations because the Jaguars have a star quarterback and wide receiver. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Dontari Poe, DT

Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB

Per usual, these are 2012 first round draft picks. I bet the Dolphins and Chiefs 2014 breakout stars are going to be Dion Jordan and Eric Fisher. I can somehow feel those are the two players the author will choose as his 2014 breakout player for each of these teams. 

While he certainly struggled at times, Ryan Tannehill also proved to be much more polished than anyone thought he would be.

As long as Tannehill can improve his decision-making, he should establish himself as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league.

And really, how important is decision-making for a quarterback anyway?

Minnesota Vikings: Joe Webb, WR

Joe Webb could be considered a bust at quarterback, 

Webb was a sixth round pick from UAB. I'm not sure it is fair to call him a bust at quarterback. Actually, it is very unfair to call him a bust at quarterback. Many quarterbacks picked in the sixth round never start a single game in the NFL like Webb has done. Heck, many sixth round draft picks don't make it to their fourth year in the NFL like Webb has.

He's been receiving high praise throughout OTAs for his solid hands

Read that Tweet. It was a backhanded compliment. The intent of the Tweet wasn't to say Webb has solid hands, but to say Webb has good hands but everything else about being a wide receiver is his issue. I'm not sure the author read the Tweet or just ignored the part that didn't seem complimentary. It's a Tweet containing less than 140 characters, how does the author miss the second part of the message?

His ability as a dynamic athlete should help him see the field despite being rather raw at receiver.

He's raw at wide receiver, but he's going to be a star THIS YEAR.

New York Giants: David Wilson, RB

Look, another 2012 first round draft choice.

New York Jets: Jeff Cumberland, TE

To be completely honest, it was difficult finding a breakout candidate on the New York Jets roster. 

Why didn't you just name Stephen Hill as the breakout star for the Jets? He was a second round draft choice in the 2012 draft so he fits the criteria.

Without receivers to throw to, Mark Sanchez or Geno Smith will likely rely heavily on Cumberland.

Wait, the Jets don't even have receivers on the active roster? No wonder Mark Sanchez has struggled so much recently.

That'll ultimately lead to Cumberland having a productive season this year.

Don't you think opposing teams know the Jets don't have good receivers for the QB (whoever it may be) to throw the ball to, so they will pay extra attention to covering Jeff Cumberland? I give the author credit for not just picking a first or second round draft choice though.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Cortez Allen, CB

Allen is entering his third year, and he showed last year that he has the tools to become an exceptional defender in coverage.

Look for Allen to consistently cover the opposing team's best receiver and win time and time again.

And yet again, here is my problem with this slideshow. The author goes to great lengths to show what a great defender Stephon Gilmore is and even used statistics to show that Lamarr Houston could breakout this year. But then we get this lazy type of "he has the tools to become an exceptional defender in coverage" crap. If the author has looked up the statistics on Pro Football Focus for guys like Lamarr Houston and Stephon Gilmore then provide the proof from Allen's performance last year that shows he can be exceptional in coverage and take away the opposing team's best receiver time and time again. If you are going to commit to using statistics to back up your choices, continue to use statistics through the whole column to defend your choices, because otherwise it feels like you are using hyperbole to talk out of your ass.

He should establish himself as a top cornerback in the league by the end of Week 16.

Not by Week 14 or Week 15, but by Week 16 Allen should establish himself as a top cornerback in the NFL. Look for this to happen, but not before Week 16. If you look for it Week 17, then you are too late.

Isn't is possible all 32 teams don't have a breakout candidate? Of course not, this is Bleacher Report and they crave pageviews so they stuff as much content (accurate or not) into one slideshow. 

San Diego Chargers: Danario Alexander, WR

For God's sake, man. Danario Alexander put up 658 yards and 7 touchdowns in six starts last year. He played in 10 games, so Alexander would have averaged 1052 yards and 59 receptions over the season if he had played in all 16 games. So I would say it is fair to believe he broke out and exceeded expectations last year and wouldn't be considered a breakout candidate for 2013.

In the final nine games of the season, Alexander posted 37 receptions for a whopping 658 yards and seven touchdowns. He was easily quarterback Philip Rivers' favorite target down the stretch, something that shouldn't change in 2013.

Of course this isn't considered "breaking out" because the author needs a breakout candidate for the Chargers in 2013 and this is the only guy he could think of.

San Francisco 49ers: Glenn Dorsey, DT

Dorsey should revitalize his career and gain more and more playing time with each passing week. By the end of the 2013 season, he should remind everyone why he was the fifth overall pick of the 2008 draft.

But by what week during the 2013 season? Week 16? Week 8? The middle of Week 13, shortly before halftime? Immediately after Week 17, thereby at the very end of the season Dorsey will have reminded everyone why he was the fifth overall pick in the 2008 draft?

Seattle Seahawks: Bruce Irvin, OLB

2012 first round draft choice.

St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford, QB

I'm tempted to skip this one since I find it hard for the #1 overall pick to be a breakout star and exceed expectations. If anything, Bradford has underwhelmed during his career and if he plays well this year he might meet the expectations for him.

From tight end Jared Cook to receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, Bradford now has a bevy of playmakers to throw to. Even if his new receivers only play at half of what they're expected to, Bradford will still likely have his best season in the league.

If the Rams receivers produce half of what they are expected to, Bradford is going to have a terrible year. If the receivers are expected to post 5000 yards receiving (which is tremendous) and they produce 2500 yards receiving then Bradford isn't going to be having a great year. Bradford would barely throw for 3000 yards if his receivers only play at half of what they're expected to. Even if you include the receiving yards from the running backs on the roster Bradford would barely crack 3000 yards, while he threw for 3702 yards last year.

Look for Bradford to post career numbers and finally turn the Rams into a legitimate playoff contender.

If Bradford posts career numbers then he will be meeting expectations for his career, not exceeding them.

Tennessee Titans: Chance Warmack, OG

The Titans 2013 first round draft pick. I'm betting if Warmack doesn't breakout this year then he will end up on the 2014 breakout list too. 

Washington Redskins: Leonard Hankerson, WR

Now that he's becoming more comfortable with his position in the league, Hankerson could take another step this year toward becoming an even more dangerous option. He'll continue to show chemistry with Griffin, as they'll become one of the top young quarterback-receiver duos in the league.

We all like Leonard Hankerson, but really? Robert Griffin and Hankerson will become one of the top young (not old, but I'm not even sure what kind of qualifier this really is) quarterback-receiver duo in the league. That's quite a prediction for Hankerson. 

This was slide 33 of 34 and of course if you click to go to the next slide (slide #34) it takes you to the next column/slideshow which is Slide 1 of 34. So basically there is no slide #34 and Bleacher Report deceives you into giving another column/slideshow more pageviews.  It's pretty sneaky and Bleacher Report does this for pretty much all of this columns/slideshows. 

Of course it bothers no one that they scramble for pageviews by promising 34 slides and then only delivering 33 of them and the 34th slide is the first slide of a new column/slideshow. This would be like if you were watching your favorite hour-long television show and the show ended up running only 58 minutes with the last two minutes being the next show on the schedule. 


JD said...

Call it The Bleacher Report Curse. Two weeks after being named the break-out player for the Chargers in 2013, Danario Alexander goes down with a season ending injury.

Mike Scifres is going to break the punt attempt record this year. Or maybe the Chargers just stick to giving the ball back to the opposing team via fumble/interception.

Whatever. Painful...

Chris Carlomastro said...

That kid Aaron Rodgers from green bay has been looking pretty good in practice. I think I'd put him on MY list of breakout players for this year.

Bengoodfella said...

JD, I was almost going to not include Alexander in this, but then decided it was such a stupid selection I had to keep him. It kind of sucks this is a supposed "make or break" year for Rivers and he loses Alexander. I'm not sure the Chargers have done him favors with the players they've surrounded him with. How much you want to bet Rivers isn't traded to the Jaguars or another QB needy team this offseason?

Chris, I've got my eye on this Thomas Brady guy, plus I'm thinking Calvin Johnson may break out this year.

Dom said...

Don't be surprised if Colin Kaepernick, quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, ends up being a breakout star this year. He throws well, runs quickly, and even received praise from ex Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski, as you can see from this Sportscenter clip. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a resume to email to bleacher report.

Bengoodfella said...

Dom, Bleacher Report doesn't need to see your resume, you are hired because of the insight you just exhibited.