IDP players can often be mostly special teams players or part-time players in year one and then work their way into a starter role year two. Here are some defensive players that had poor outings as rookies last season that have better than average chances to breakout in 2017:
- Myles Jack, LB Jax – The Jaguars have a high class problem. They have three solid linebackers for two spots, MLB and WLB. Myles Jack was not able to beat out Paul Pozlusny and Telvin Smith for either of those spots as a rookie. That said, Jack has the highest ceiling of all three, Poz is getting old and slowing down and Smith is not as disciplined as the last coaching staff would have liked. Jack will take one of these spots in 2017.
- Reggie Ragland, LB BUF – His rookie season stopped by injury before it started, Ragland was being hyped up by Rex Ryan as a linchpin of his defense. Ryan is gone of course and it’s unclear what system Buffalo will be running but it seems they may move to a 4-3 in 2017. Coming back from injury won’t be easy but Ragland should fill the MLB spot in a 4-3 and if he does, he can excel.
- Jaylon Smith, LB DAL – Will he live up to the hype in 2017? No. Will he be given a starting spot if he is healthy? Yes. This means that while he may still need some time to round into form, Jaylon Smith can be a very productive LB in 2017 and even better in 2018 and beyond.
- Su’a Cravens, S WAS – In case you didn’t hear, Washington is moving Cravens to safety from LB in year 2. This will help him produce I believe because he was a bit miscast as a very small LB. Cravens is athletic and has good instincts and is a missile when he finds the ball. He can be a 100 tackle safety, which is very desirable indeed.
- BJ Goodson, LB NYG – Out of Clemson, Goodson was picked in the 4th round to be the “MLB of the future” for the Giants. Well, consider the future here because as soon as the season was over, there was already talk of Goodson starting in 2017. If this happens, it will surprise some people who don’t know who he is, so get him before he breaks out.
- Noah Spence, DE TB – Spence had a good rookie season with 5.5 sacks but was off the radar from an IDP perspective. He didn’t hold up against the run very well and he had a lot of goose egg games when he didn’t get a sack or a tackle. In year two he’ll be a clear cut starter and will have put on some muscle. Look for his tackle and sack totals to increase in year two which will put him on the IDP radar, most likely for many years to come.