Football Outsiders has a two part series going over at ESPN regarding potential key pieces for the 2009 season. You will likely need to be an Insider to read all of it.
In the NFL, the ascension of a player to household-name status is often sudden and unexpected. Take 2008, for example. If we'd told you that Matt Cassel, DeAngelo Williams and Darnell Dockett would emerge as essential building blocks for their teams, you would have laughed us out of the room...
So in identifying players who might make the leap onto a list of essential building blocks compiled this time next year, we're not going to identify very good players who are merely under the radar, such as Nick Collins or a Leroy Hill; we're aiming to isolate players who are capable of taking a huge step forward, becoming an indispensable player in the process.
So there's your premise. Which 5 players in the NFC are in position and have the skill set to emerge in 2009? Bill Barnwell's list: Jason Campbell, Miles Austin, Sam Baker, Parys Haralson, and Cliff Avril.
Along that same vein, which Seahawks have the chance to break out from obscurity?
Darryl Tapp is an obvious choice, although he may disqualify himself from the spirit of the competition given his solid track record to date. Brandon Mebane has also already shown too much to fit into this category. As you continue to play this game throughout the Seahawk defense, you'll notice that only Lawrence Jackson and Josh Wilson have the credentials and potential to make this list (apologies to Red Bryant). Given that Jackson has plenty of work to do just to make himself somewhat disruptive, Wilson looks like the candidate for the Seattle defense. Pushed back from being a starting corner into the nickel role, Wilson will the chance to capitalize on his aggressiveness by jumping slants and crossing routes and blowing up receivers over the middle. Wilson stood out in the Seattle secondary last year due to his willingness to attack the ball. Despite what will likely be a declinein playing time, Seattle needs Wilson to take another step forward in his disciplined aggression.
How about on offense? You can safely eliminate anyone with name recognition, leaving John Carlson, Owen Schmitt, and most of the offensive line. Carlson is the slam dunk here.
Is there anyone else you think has the talent and playing time to emerge this season?