NFL Breakout Stars for 2007
Schaub is a great fit for Gary Kubiak's offense and should immediately bolster a unit that has been spinning its wheels for years. The big question in Houston is the offensive line, but if Schaub gets any protection, he should put up good numbers.
The former college tight end could join the elite ranks at left tackle this season. He's got great athleticism and will be a big part of what should be an improved offense.
The athletic Jackson appears to have a great chemistry with quarterback Philip Rivers and could add a vertical element that is missing in this high-powered offense. If Jackson gets hot, it will be hard for defenses to double-team him, since they already have to concentrate on slowing LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates.
The 6-foot-2 Williams is the No. 3 receiver in Baltimore for now, but he could play a prominent role after a very impressive preseason. Williams caught 22 passes for 396 yards as a rookie, and appears to be a serious deep threat in an offense that needs a vertical presence.
The third-year pro will get a lot of opportunities with opposing offenses focusing on Jason Taylor. Roth has a high motor and could wrack up big numbers in this defense.
Berrian looked very impressive in the preseason and should be a consistent deep threat for the Bears. Berrian put on some muscle in the offseason, but is still one of the faster receivers in the NFL. Look for the Bears to make him a focal point of the passing game.
Cutler is in a perfect position to succeed in Denver. The Broncos have a good line, a proven rusher and solid receivers. Cutler has the arm strength and confidence to take full advantage of his situation and lead the Broncos back to the playoffs.
Jenkins emerged at the end of last season and should take his game to the next level this season. He was a force in the preseason and his blend of quickness and power makes him difficult to block.
McIntosh was all over the field in the Redskins' preseason games. He understands the defense and will be a big playmaker in what should be an improved unit from last year.
Odom's 2006 season was cut short by a knee injury and he hasn't proved he can be consistent. But he has loads of talent and started to show his skills in an impressive preseason. Look for the fourth-year pro to emerge as a pass-rushing threat in 2007.
Whitner has ball-hawking skills he didn't get to show much last year, but he could become more of an Ed Reed-type safety this season, with the ability to stop the run and create turnovers. Last year's first-round pick should have a better understanding of the defense and help the Bills improve against the pass.
Holmes had a decent rookie season, but he should make huge strides this year as the Steelers open up their offense. Holmes has nice chemistry with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and provides a bona fide deep threat Pittsburgh hasn't had in recent years.
There are concerns about the middle of the Chargers' defense without veteran Donnie Edwards, but Cooper steps into a great situation and may surprise a lot of people. Entering his fifth season, Cooper looked solid in the preseason and will pick up a lot of tackles in this defense.
Wimbley had a good rookie season, posting 11 sacks. This year he should take it up a notch and establish himself as one of the premiere pass rushers in the NFL. Wimbley has excellent speed and good moves. His only flaw is inconsistency against the run, but he should improve in that area.
Wilfork is already a huge part of the Patriots' defense, and this year he should get more credit as a big-time run stuffer. With Richard Seymour battling injuries, Wilfork should step up as the star of this defensive line.