Originally posted on isportsweb.com
By Nathaniel Griffee  |  Last updated 5/18/17

Jet fans might be a bit down going into next season. That’s fair, considering it is unlikely that the Jets will win more than five games and almost certainly will have no chance at making the playoffs.

However, if Jets fans can look past the lack of winning (something that they should be pretty used to by now), they might be able to find some reasons for hope; hope that this offense that has been at best mediocre throughout Jet history may finally turn a corner. Some of these reasons will undoubtedly be personified in players finally putting it together in their sophomore season.

sophomore season breakouts are relatively common in the NFL. After having a full season to experience football on a professional level, players go into their first NFL offseason having a better idea of what they’re up against and how to train for it.  I think these three offensive players will have the biggest chance of making the second season leap.

Jalin Marshall WR

After going undrafted in the 2016 draft, Jalin Marshall was relatively highly touted throughout last season’s preseason.  Players were gushing about his abilities on the field and many analysts thought he might have a breakout year as a rookie.

These analysts were wrong. Marshall suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder and, while he tried to play through it, Marshall wound up only playing ten games, catching 14 passes for less than 200 yards and two touchdowns. While these aren’t awful numbers for an undrafted rookie who was injured for most of the season, they do not constitute a breakout season.

Marshall will have another shot to live up to the hype from last year this season. Hopefully, he will be able to stay on the field and, if he does, he should be able to improve on his rookie statistics. Without Brandon Marshall to take targets away from the other Jet receivers like Jalin Marshall, the sophomore will certainly have his chance to shine.

While he certainly could still have a breakout season, Marshall’s four game suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy will hurt his chances to have a good season. Luckily, there is another sophomore receiver who may be able to pick up that slack should Marshall fail to perform.

Robby Anderson WR

While Robby Anderson was arrested last week, it seems unlikely that he will face the same fate of suspension as Marshall. If Anderson does wind up getting suspended, it almost certainly won’t be until the 2018 season.

By then, Anderson will probably be one of the top Jets offensive weapons.

After having a relatively slow start to last season, Anderson finished strong with 42 receptions for 587 yards and two touchdowns. This was mostly due to Anderson’s good rapport with Bryce Petty and his ability to stretch the field with his burning speed (Anderson ran a 4.36 forty at his pro day!).

For an undrafted rookie, these are great numbers and there is no reason to think that he won’t be able to improve on them in 2017. If he can get better at tracking the ball and focus on decreasing his drops, I think he can become the best undrafted Jet wide receiver since Wayne Chrebet.

In fact, I think Anderson can easily eclipse 1,000 yards this season. I would take him as a late round sleeper in fantasy leagues.

Brandon Shell T

Great nephew of Hall of Famer Art Shell and fifth round pick in last year’s draft, Brandon Shell only had the chance to start in three games last season. In these three games, Shell played very well, not allowing a single sack and very few pressures.

Despite this small sample size, the Jets brain trust seem to think a lot of the young offensive lineman. The fact that they really didn’t address the right tackle position throughout the offseason seems to indicate that Mike Maccagnan believes that Shell is ready to take on the role of full-time starter.

The amount of faith that management is putting into this type of player who really hasn’t played extensively is fairly unprecedented. Since I believe that Maccagnan knows what he is doing, I can only guess that Shell is destined to have a breakout season next year.

Bottom line: if Shell continues playing the way he has been, he’ll have a great sophomore season.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

PLAYERS: Robby Anderson
TEAMS: New York Jets
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