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All-32 Series: AFC West’s Breakout Players for the 2018 Season

Written By: Team Blitz

Denver Broncos

Courtland Sutton (WR)

Sutton was looked at by many as one of the best wide receivers in this year’s draft, and the Broncos stole him with the 40th pick. Sutton was one of my favorite receivers in this year’s class, and his mixture of size and athleticism looked very promising. His physical traits weren’t the only thing that impressed me, as his tape at SMU looked very good. He was physical, fast, strong, and was the top receiver on the team. He showed an ability to fly down the field and win the 50/50 balls with strong hands.

The Broncos were not the most glamorous team last season, and it was tough to watch such a talented defense lose games because of an inept offense. In the draft they were effective at filling numerous roster holes, and while 1st-round pick Bradley Chubb will obviously make an immediate impact, I think that Sutton can play a much bigger role than expected. Sutton is coming into an offense that has a young and talent offensive line, a new quarterback (coming off a deep playoff run, I may add), and a few aging targets in the receiving core. His game is similar to that of the current top receiver on the Broncos, Demaryius Thomas, who will provide a great mentor for the young receiver. With an already talented receiving corps the focus won’t solely be on Sutton like it was at SMU, and if he can stay healthy I believe he can work his way up to become one of Case Keenum’s top targets this coming season.

-Collyn Foster

Kansas City Chiefs

Dee Ford (Edge)

Money money money moneyyy…. monnneyyyyy (hit the falsetto on this one). That scrilla is the reason Dee Ford is my breakout player for the Kansas City Chiefs. Dee has had an underwhelming career with KC thus far to say the least. A once-vaunted prospect with an electric first step and promising bend potential, KC had hoped to find Tamba Hali’s successor when they selected him 23rd overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, outside of a first half explosion in 2016 (9 sacks by week 8), Ford has been mostly a disappointment throughout his tenure with KC. To make matters worse, Ford suffered back and hip injuries that cut his 2017 season short, leaving some Chiefs fans regretting that the team picked up his option for 2018.

With all that being said, I truly think Ford can put it all together this offseason as long as he can stay healthy. By all accounts, Ford has been recovering properly and should be available for training camp in July, so he will have time to knock off some post-injury rust. The Chiefs went heavy on defense in this draft with a priority on interior pressure, picking Breeland Speaks and Derrick Nnandi. I believe a big problem in Ford’s career has been the lack of surrounding pass rushing threats, so with the additions that were made, as well as an improved Chris Jones moving to a 5 technique DE, Ford should see consistent lanes and opportunities for his explosion and finishing ability that once enamored draft pundits.

-Ashton Moore

Los Angeles Chargers

Hunter Henry (TE)

Hunter Henry was poised to have a breakout season last year, but with his injuries and fellow tight end Antonio Gates still having a role in the offense, Henry never reached the heights expected last season. He did still make contributions, as he finished last season with 45 receptions, 579 yards, and 4 touchdowns. With Gates moving on, Henry is set to take the lead tight end role and become the player that the organization believed in when they drafted him. While the Chargers have plenty of mouths to feed in their offense, Hunter will be Philip Rivers’ favorite target in the redzone. Fans should be excited to see him and Rivers put points on the board for the Chargers in 2018.

-Cody Manning

Oakland Raiders

Martavis Bryant (WR)

Martavis Bryant was acquired by the Raiders this past weekend for a 3rd round pick. Jon Gruden thinks that the change of scenery will unleash Bryant and help him reach his full potential. He has all the talent in the world and should be big part of Oakland’s offense in 2018. Derek Carr is an accurate deep ball thrower, and combine that with Bryant’s deep threat receiving skills, I think the receiver has a chance to flourish in his new city. He fits that typical Raider player mold and fans will fall in love with him if he produces on the field. Martavis is due to breakout, and Raiders’ fans should be happy they were able to land him via a trade.

  • Cody Manning

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