Though the New York Jets are heavily laced with veterans, their real success in 2016 will come if these youngsters pan out as expected.
Look no further than what the Seattle Seahawks have done over the last half decade to understand that.
General manager John Schneider used his middle-to-late round picks to perfection. This helped the organization in a way that not only provided ridiculous production all over the roster, but made the salary cap to actually smile friendly upon them, instead of becoming enemy number one.
This is what can be earned when youngsters pan out, especially if these guys come cheaper by way of middle-to-late round selections.
In 2015, from a New York perspective, we saw it from Calvin Pryor.
While he was a first-round pick, 2015 marked the first season the Louisville Slugger made his real mark in the NFL. Thanks to a real need at the safety position in 2014, Rex Ryan was forced to play Pyror in a centerfield spot, leaving him uncomfortable most of the time in trying to take away the middle-third of the field.
Thanks to the addition of Marcus Gilchrist a season ago, Pryor went back to his more natural strong safety spot. This allowed the vicious hitter to to rob underneath and constantly stick his nose in the box.
He was actually so good that the Jets defense looked lost without him on the field. In the three games he missed – Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills – New York finished 1-2 and yielded an incredible 1,167 yards against.
Now, the question remains, who’ll be the Jets’ Calvin Pryor of 2016?
God knows, thanks to the veteran nature of this Jets squad, these breakouts will be crucial. It could mean the difference of an average group or yet another surprising season out of the new regime of Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles.
We rank the New York Jets breakout candidates for 2016: