clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Broncos tight end Virgil Green among potential breakout players for 2015

New, comments

With Julius Thomas gone to the Jaguars via free agency, Broncos' Virgil Green has the opportunity to showcase his talents in blocking and receiving this season.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

According to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, the Broncos have a breakout player on the roster in tight end Virgil Green.

Julius Thomas is gone to Jacksonville, which means Green should now be the starter. He has 23 catches in four seasons, being used mainly as a blocker, but now he should be able to get that closer to 60. He flashed some pass-catching ability in the regular-season finale against Oakland with three catches and a touchdown.

When we reviewed Green, we also believed he had the potential to be a big contributor to the Broncos offense. The tight end's utility has likely increased with the hiring of Gary Kubiak as the Broncos new head coach.

Summarizing him we felt:

He's a solid blocker and has the physicality in all phases of the game to dominate. Green seems possesses the tools and intelligence to be a starting, three down tight end in the NFL.

Going into 2015, we should expect to see a lot of Green. But also on this list of 20 potential candidates were our three fellow AFC West rivals. The first one Prisco mentions is Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram:

Entering his fourth season, injuries have really limited him. He has the talent to be a force off the edge, but he needs to stay on the field -- he's missed 19 games the past two seasons. He dropped 20 pounds and changed his body this spring, so that should help his speed off the edge.

Over the past few years injuries have been Ingram's crux, but it hasn't stopped him from being a productive pass rusher when he is on the field.

Last season he only rushed the passer about 250 times but got pressure on about 10 percent of his snaps. Ingram's issues tend to come when he's asked to drop into coverage. With some defensive changes in the works and finally being healthy, the linebacker makes a strong case for leading the Chargers defense as a pass rusher.

Prisco didn't ignore the Raiders either, taking note of guard Gabe Jackson:

Watching Jackson against J.J. Watt last season as a rookie opened my eyes to this kid's talent. He never backed down and did some good things against Watt. That type of ability is why I think he has a chance to be a dominant guard this season.

Jackson was one of the bright spots on the Raiders last season, both as a run and pass blocker. When running behind him, the Raiders averaged 4.1 yards per carry in 2014 and he only gave up one sack all season.

While not as strong as his left tackle neighbor Donald Penn, he was a big part of any success the Raiders had on offense last year. Going forward with the big changes on offense, look for Jackson to be an important cog for future success.

The final AFC West player Prisco feels could have a big year is Travis Kelce, tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs:

It's hard to say a player who had 67 catches last season will be a breakout player, but now that Anthony Fasano is gone I think that number could get closer to 100 catches. He has that type of ability. He had five TD catches last season. I would be shocked if that isn't doubled this season.

Kelce had been a popular player the first half of last season when he had 419 yards, 4 touchdowns, over 65 percent catch rate and just two drops. The problem was his slowdown in the second half of the season when his production became very inconsistent. I do think he has potential; he's a big tight end who can stretch the seam as well as block competently. If he can even out his play he could be the Chiefs' best tight end since Tony Gonzalez left.

Overall the AFC West has a lot of rising talent and should be exciting to watch this year as the division seems to be fairly competitive.