Pierre-Paul, Dixon pegged for breakouts

May, 27, 2011
5/27/11
2:13
PM ET
Pete Prisco over at CBS did a list of 20 players he considers "breakout" candidates for 2011. Twenty's a pretty big number, considering how little is going on, the uncertainty that still hovers over roster construction and the fact that the 2011 season is not, currently, scheduled to be played. But Prisco's an animal, so he came up with 20, and we're reading everything we can get our hands on in the absence of news.

Pete's got two NFC East players on his list, and both are defensive linemen. They are the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul and the Eagles' Antonio Dixon. Of Pierre-Paul, he writes:
"He started slow last season as a rookie, but came on strong to show he is more advanced than some scouts expected. Pierre-Paul is an explosive player who needs to refine a few things. When he does, he will be the next great pass rusher for the Giants, who seem to have a knack for finding them."

The Giants don't just find pass-rushers, they make them. Pierre-Paul was drafted into a perfect spot for his development. The emphasis Tom Coughlin puts on the pass rush and the presence of people like Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka as mentors should help someone of Pierre-Paul's athletic ability flourish. He'll get more and more reps and is likely to be more and more disruptive as time goes on.

Of Dixon, Prisco writes:
"The undrafted Dixon was a surprise starter in Philly last season after being claimed the year before on waivers from the Redskins. He is a powerful man who holds up against the run, but also can push the pocket. With the experience he got last year, he should be ready for even more."

There is opportunity along the Eagles' defensive line, and if the team believes Dixon is ready to take the next step, it will allow them to focus on other defensive needs. And if Dixon can create pressure on quarterbacks from an interior defensive line spot, that's going to be a huge bonus. New defensive line coach Jim Washburn could also be a huge help to Dixon's development.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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