Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. had three AFC West players ranked among his 10 players from the AFC who he expects to break out in 2012. They are Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (No. 7), Kansas City safety Kendrick Lewis (No. 9) and Denver receiver Demaryius Thomas (No. 10).
Using Horton’s piece as inspiration, I am offering a choice for a breakout player for each AFC West team. In the interest of keeping things fresh, I am not taking any of the three players Horton selected, although they are all fine players.
Denver safety Quinton Carter: I think we will see Carter, a fourth-round pick in 2011, become a key part of Denver’s defense in 2012. He played a lot in 2011. Carter, who can play both safety spots, made some plays and grew up quickly. I think he will be a solid starter this season.
Kansas City guard Jon Asamoah: The 2010 third-round pick became a starter last season and quietly became a good player. I think we will see Asamoah grow even more in 2012 and become a plus player. This line has a chance to be very good again; Asamoah is a big part of the future.
Oakland center Stefen Wisniewski: I am a big Wisniewski fan. I think he can become a Pro Bowl player. He was terrific at guard as a rookie and he is now playing center. I expect Wisniewski, who played his rookie season with a torn labrum, to be successful at center instantly and quickly show why he is one of the NFL’s better young linemen.
San Diego defensive end Corey Liuget: Don’t be surprised if Liuget explodes in 2012. The No. 18 overall pick last year had his moments, but he wasn't a standout. I think new defensive coordinator John Pagano is going to put Liuget in position to make plays and I think he is going to show people that his name is one to remember for the long haul.