The Indianapolis Colts provided a shock to many outside of the organization with their play last year managing a playoff run, and spectacular play from breakout players such as Eric Ebron, Mark Glowinski, and Darius Leonard, to name a few.
This year there is going to be similar growth, development and spectacular play which will lead to potential breakout seasons for up and coming stars. Here are three offensive and three defensive players who could break out in the 2019 season:
Breakout Candidates Offense:
Jack Doyle is a 29 year old 6 year veteran in the NFL and has played very good football for the Colts. He’s been Mr. Reliable for the team, and has done whatever has been asked of him, whether it’s blocking, lining up at full back or tight end. Doyle does it all, and does it well. Doyle was seemingly on track for a great season last year until it was derailed by injury. He produced 26 receptions for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. If we average that out to a full season Doyle would have managed 69 receptions for 654 yards and 5 touchdowns. This year will be a breakout one for Doyle. Expect him to bounce back from the injury and be a focal point of the offense. Doyle will likely eat into Eric Ebron’s targets as Ebron was the only healthy veteran tight end for most of the year. Doyle will resume his role as the Colts number 1 tight end, continue his jack of all trades playing style, and help the offense take that next step this year.
The somewhat forgotten man on the offense and in the running back room, Nyheim Hines was exactly what was expected from him in his rookie season. Hines was a dynamic, change of pace, Swiss Army knife offensive weapon. Hines was lined up all over the offense and made plays wherever he was. He now has the experience of being in the league a year, and will be able to take his game to the next level. His "do it all" ability will prove valuable, and he'll likely be lining up at running back, in the slot or even outside, causing mismatches all over the field. Hines has said his target is 1,000 all purpose yards this year, and it would not surprise me if he got that and then some. Big year ahead for Hines.
When the offensive line finally came together last season and proved itself to be a top 5 unit, many lauded the addition of Quenton Nelson and play of Glowinski, Castonzo and Kelly. But many neglected to mention a rookie college guard playing right tackle. Braden Smith was able to switch positions as a rookie and hold down the position for the season at a high level of play. In his first NFL game in 83 snaps, he allowed one pressure. This continued throughout the season, and, in his 520 snaps, he allowed just 28 pressures, according to PFF. This year, Smith will fully breakout and help the offensive line continue its upward trend. Smith will provide consistent right tackle play, which he managed in his rookie year. If he continues his high level of play (which I fully expect him to do), and get better, he will break out and could be a top 5 right tackle in the league next year.
Breakout Candidates Defense:
Quincy Wilson is one of the Colts players I’m most looking forward to see in 2019. Wilson finally managed to put it all together towards the second half of last season, after some veteran mentoring from Safety Mike Mitchell. With this new, more mature Quincy Wilson, he was able to finally produce on the practice field and on game day, putting it all together and showing off a maturity that wasn’t shown previously. After a strong finish to the season, Wilson now has a platform to build off of, to turn 2019 into a breakout year for him. Wilson has all the physical tools needed, and now has the mental tools to match. Add in a year of the new scheme and Wilson should be in for a big breakout year and a bigger starting role.
For Malik Hooker, breakout means something slightly different compared to others on this list, as last year, in my opinion, he broke out in a big way. Coming off an ACL injury and scheme change, he was able to execute exactly what was asked of him, and showed just how good of a safety he is. For Hooker, breakout means taking his game to the next level (pro bowler/all pro), which is well within his means to reach this year. With a year of the new scheme under his belt, and a healthy offseason (which he hasn’t had so far in his NFL career), Hooker will be able to justify his first round selection and showcase his talent, leading to a full breakout season.
Kemoko Turay started off his rookie year as many expected when he was drafted in the second round, managing to have a strong impact. However, his year was slowed down by injuries, and ended up with him only managing 4 sacks. Turay is the speedy, edge bending, pass rushing threat that this team needs and Ballard covets so much. Working this offseason with Robert Mathis on his pass rushing skill set, and finding a go to pass rush move, Turay seems set for a breakout year. Add in a year in the league, year in the defensive scheme and being able to learn under Justin Houston, and Turay seems to be set up well for a breakout.