As I make my trips through the NFC South training camps, one thing I’ll be looking for is a candidate for breakout player.
That’s something we do every year. Last year’s choice was New Orleans receiver Robert Meachem and I don’t want to be a helicopter and beat my own chest, but it wasn’t just a random pick. At each camp, I trusted my own eyes and talked to coaches, front office guys and players about possibilities. After doing all that, I then chose Meachem and he did have a breakout year.
For full disclosure, I should reveal that, as best as memory serves me, the other two players I considered were Carolina center Ryan Kalil and wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett. I wouldn’t have gone wrong if I had chosen Kalil, who went on to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career. I would have been dramatically wrong if I had chosen Jarrett. Some Carolina people were talking him up in camp last year, but one person I trust a lot said, “I’d be careful with that one."
Anyway, since Jarrett still hasn’t had a breakout year, he’s a candidate again this year. I’ve got a few guys I’m already planning to keep an eye on -- virtually all the Tampa Bay receivers, Carolina defensive ends Everette Brown and Charles Johnson, New Orleans safety Malcolm Jenkins and Atlanta defensive ends Lawrence Sidbury and Kroy Biermann.
There might be a few more candidates that pop up as I make my rounds, but that’s my list for the moment. I’m sure I’m overlooking some possibilities and that’s why I’m throwing it to you for your thoughts on candidates for breakout players in the NFC South. If you’ve got one, discuss it in the comments section below or send a note to my mailbag.