Which player had the biggest breakout for each team last season?

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Dallas Cowboys WR Cole Beasley

This one was difficult, but I was impressed enough with Cole Beasley that I decided to give the Cowboys slot receiver the nod. He figures to be the team’s No. 4 receiver behind Dez Bryant, deep threat Terrance Williams, and rookie Devin Street, but the third-year pro is probably the most consistent player of the four. He had just 15 receptions for 128 yards as a rookie, but he turned that into 39 catches for 368 and two touchdowns in 2013. Beasley has great hands, is a savvy route-runner, and should be poised for even better things in the future. His production waned a bit as the season wore on, but he’s still a quality receiver.

New York Giants FS Will Hill

Although most people expect the Giants to cut ties with Will Hill after a third failed drug test (lay off the weed, bro), Hill was too good in 2013 to ignore here. He’ll get another chance in this league despite his major drug issues that rival those of Josh Gordon and Justin Blackmon, and that’s because he’s honestly just about as talented as those two superstar receivers. Hill showed a few flashes as a rookie, and the Florida product took things to the next level by dialing up 77 tackles and two picks last season. But the numbers don’t shed light on just how good the speed demon was at preventing big plays, because he is an ideal free safety with his range and tools. Solid in run defense, Hill, per the Pro Football Focus, allowed just one touchdown to be completed in his coverage last season (again, compared to two picks of his own) and allowed a QB Rating of just 62.0. Maybe the most impressive stat, though, is the fact that he allowed just 9.8 yards per completion.

Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles

Honestly, it’s just about impossible to single out one specific breakout star for the Philadelphia Eagles last season, since there are just so many legitimate candidates. Jason Kelce, Riley Cooper, Brandon Boykin, and a host of players on the front seven deserve recognition, but Nick Foles is just too easy of a pick to go against. Foles was arguably the most efficient (not the best, but the most efficient) quarterback in the league last season, as he threw just two interceptions compared to a whopping 27 touchdowns. An elite offense consisting of the likes of Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Kelce, Cooper, DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Zach Ertz, Todd Herremans, Brent Celek, and James Casey certainly helped him, as did a friendly scheme instilled by Chip Kelly that focuses on skill position players in space making plays. Still, it was Foles who needed to make the quick decisions and show solid physical tools, and he turned his own talent and the weapons around him into wins, a playoff spot, and big numbers. I mean, how can you dislike a 9.1 yards per attempt average?

Washington Redskins RT Tyler Polumbus

I don’t know if his 2013 season qualifies as a breakout year or a fluke, but I was fresh out of options and he easily stood out. If I didn’t pick Polumbus, then I would have had to pull a sketchy move and tab a rookie (star TE Jordan Reed) as the breakout guy. Tyler Polumbus has had a career of mediocre blocking at best, and the journeyman right tackle was beyond awful in 2012. Even so, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan stood firmly by the vet, which caused many of us to scratch our heads. Well, Shanny turned out to be right, as Polumbus was a rock, forming a great bookend with superstar LT Trent Williams, whose ability has never really been questioned. Robert Griffin III had issues, but his offensive line wasn’t one of them. It will be interesting to see if Morgan Moses can start this season, but it’s far more likely for Polumbus to start, Moses to develop, and Moses to take over in 2015 once Polumbus’s contract runs out. Hopefully for the Redskins, the Colorado product won’t regress to the mean this year, and we’ll see if his 2014 season was legit (I’m skeptical here).