Each NFL season, every team has a player that bears a little added attention. So which performer could turn the corner for the New York Jets in ’17?
Welcome to yet another 32-team series from End Zone Score. In recent months, we took the time to look at each club’s best offseason addition. We even dabbled into some pertinent and historical numbers.
Every NFL season features players that come into their own after a slow start to their careers. It’s tough to tell when each performer’s coming-put party will take place. Some are immediate successes. Others take longer due to numerous circumstances, but they prove to be worth the wait. Here we will try and pinpoint a player from each team in the league that we feel is on the verge of putting it altogether.
Are we really expecting a breakout year from anyone wearing the Green and White this season? All kidding aside, former Dallas Cowboys’ first-round pick Morris Claiborne should be able to assist a secondary that fell on hard times this past year.
So how is a player who was the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft dubbed an up-and-comer? For the former LSU product, staying on the field has been the biggest issue. And you could make a case that this past season that Claiborne was playing the best football of his brief career. But a groin injury hampered him for the vast majority of ’16 and he played in only seven games. He would total 26 tackles, an interception and one fumble recovery while knocking down five passes.
The five-year pro returned for the team’s divisional playoff encounter with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Claiborne finished with four stops and one pass defensed in the heart-breaking loss.
Still, he’s missed so much time – out 32 games the past four seasons – that he not only qualifies to be a rising performer but a possible NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Jets’ defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers feels Claiborne fits the team’s defensive scheme. Of course, that means remaining on the field.
“We talked about it when he came in on his visit, and he’s conscious of it,” said the coach to Rich Cimini of ESPN in May. “He’s just got to take better care of his body. We all understand football is a contact sport, they get banged up. We’re not shying away from anything with him, he’s going out there and we’re going to play.”
This is a team that has remade its secondary this offseason, releasing veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis and trading safety Calvin Pryor to the Cleveland Browns. It’s a defense that allowed 30 TD passes in 2016. And Morris Claiborne has a golden opportunity to make an impact on a rebuilding team.