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July 3rd, 2017

Four NFL Players Poised to Have a Breakout 2017 Season: AFC East Edition

Dustin Schandevel @D_Schandy24
DeVante Parker AFC East

Who is ready to breakout in 2017 from the AFC East? (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Happy Monday morning, everyone! We’re diving into part six of this eight-part series examining breakout players from every team. If you’re still with me, I want to say thank you. More importantly, my twitter handle is seen above. Tweet me that you’ve hung on this long and I’ll love you forever. Okay, let’s get to the AFC East.

AFC EAST

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Trey Flowers AFC East

Trey Flowers is my breakout candidate for the New England Patriots. (Greg Trott / Associated Press)

Player — DE Trey Flowers, third season, age 23

I almost skipped over the Patriots. They are honestly way too good and it’s not fair but instead, I took the high road. I’m a classy guy, what can I say.

When looking at this roster, I saw a guy with a beautiful last name and talent with incredible upside. Flowers made a name for himself last year after recording 23 tackles and seven sacks. The biggest play of his career came after the season though, when he sacked Matt Ryan late in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Falcons fans, turn away.

The Patriots got the ball back after and well, yeah you know. Flowers recorded 2.5 sacks in that game. Not bad for a second-year guy.

Yes, you could say he already broke out last year, but I expect a much bigger year in 2017. The Patriots saw Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard walk this offseason, leaving Flowers to help lead the D-Line next season. This offseason, he’s been leaving it all on the field.

Why do I think Flowers has a chance for double-digit sacks in ’17? Because he’s never satisfied and he wants to be the best.

“You can never be satisfied. That’s one of the things I take pride in. I count myself as a humble guy, not get too high on myself. I’m just a hard worker.’’

“I just want to be the best. That’s what motivates me the most — wanting to just be the best person I can be, the best player I can be.’’

After a strong season last year, I definitely think his “best” is yet to come.

NEW YORK JETS

Juston Burris AFC East

Juston Burris is my breakout candidate for the New York Jets. (Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)

Player — CB Juston Burris, 2nd season, age 23

Okay, back to players you probably haven’t heard of. Burris did just about as much as you did in his rookie season last year. He finished with 13 tackles and one interception. Okay, so he did more than your grandpa that sits in the recliner too much, but not a lot.

Thankfully, year two is lining up to be a big one for Burris. Connor Huges of NJ.com picked Burris as one of his “three stars” from mini-camp. More importantly, he earned first-team reps throughout mini-camp and OTAs.

He isn’t being treated like a guy that is coming off a poor season. He’s not acting like one either.

With a starting job at corner up for grabs, Burris knows he has what it takes. I think so, too. I’m just hoping he gives Jets fans something to cheer about next year.

If not, they still have the Knicks and Nets, right?

MIAMI DOLPHINS

DeVante Parker AFC East

DeVante Parker is my breakout candidate for the Miami Dolphins. (Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports)

Player — WR DeVante Parker, 3rd season, age 24

My pick is a guy that likes living life in his “lil swimming trunks”. Cute, isn’t it?

I’m going to take a break and let Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill tell you why you should expect a big year from the swimming trunks lover.

“I think coming into OTA’s, DeVante was a guy that had been on our radar. He came back healthy. He’s been struggling with his foot and hamstring his first two years. And he finally got healthy over the offseason. And starting in March, I got to see his explosiveness. Straight-line speed. In and out of his breaks. Unbelievable. Obviously, he’s always had the range, the hands, now he’s been fine-tuning his route running. It’s been really fun for me to sit back and say you know this guy is really improving and could take a big step this year. If we can keep him healthy.”

This quote came after the Dolphins wrapped up their offseason duties before training camp. The last sentence is key.

Parker has yet to play an NFL season 100% healthy. With him finally back in shape, everyone in Miami is going bonkers expecting him to put up huge numbers. One beat writer projects him to finish the season with 70 receptions for 980 yards and seven touchdowns, all career-high stats.

Why do I think there’s a good chance Parker stays healthy this season? Because he’s made changes this offseason to avoid injuries.

“I made a couple of changes. I’m just really focused on leg work, leg workouts mainly. I still do upper body, but I want to do legs to get my hamstrings right for this season.”

If the “Dolphins OTAs MVP” Parker can stay healthy, he will be on his way to posting career highs in ’17.

BUFFALO BILLS

Shaq Lawson AFC East

Shaq Lawson is my breakout candidate for the Buffalo Bills. (James McCoy / Buffalo News)

Player — DE Shaq Lawson, 2nd season, age 23

Introducing SHAQUILLE O’N…..Lawson? Or should I say Sack Daddy or Sack-a-Shaq? Did I pick him because of his name or does he have a chance to breakout? A little bit of both okay don’t worry.

There’s a lot of reasons why I’m jumping on the Lawson hype train for ’17. To name a few….he’s switching back to play the same defensive scheme he played at Clemson, he’s healthy and not missing the offseason and he’s playing under a new coach.

What does he want to in his first season at 100%? Relive his college days.

“I’m going to give them a reason why they drafted me here as a first-round pick. It’s time to bring what I had back when I was in college.”

What exactly did he do in college? Not a whole lot, just posted 123 tackles and 20 sacks in three seasons. Most of his sacks came in his junior year when he recorded 12.5. I don’t think Bills fans would mind that kind of performance next year.

Look for Lawson to blossom under the new,  but familiar defensive scheme in 2017.

Next stop: NFC West.

 

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