The great thing about the NFL is that there are so many positions that every year, there is almost always at least one player who has a breakout year on every team, no matter how good or bad the team is. This is one part in a 32 part segment detailing one potential breakout player for the 2012 NFL season on each NFL team. For the New York Giants, that player is defensive tackle Linval Joseph.
The Giants have one of the best defensive lines in the league. They ranked 3rd in the league with 48 sacks last season and their defensive line play was a key part of their Super Bowl run. When you think of their defensive line, the obvious names come to mind: Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, etc. You probably don’t think about Linval Joseph, but if he keeps it up, you will.
Joseph was a 2010 2nd round pick and, in his first season as a starter in 2011, Joseph played very well. After playing just 63 snaps as a rookie, Joseph played 611 in 2011 in the regular season. On 304 pass rush snaps, he had 2 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, and 14 quarterback pressures, a rate of 6.6%. If you include his postseason production, he was even more impressive as he had 2 sacks, 6 quarterback hits, and 23 quarterback pressures on 389 pass rush snaps, a rate of 8.0%.
His improvement as the season went on is a large part of why I think he can have a breakout year in 2010, his 3rd year in the league. In his last 6 games, he had 3 quarterback hits and 12 quarterback pressures on 133 pass rush snaps, a rate of 11.3%. Joseph was also unlucky to manage just 2 sacks last season. His 6.4 pass productivity rate was tied for 5th in the league. If he does that in 2012, which is definitely possible if he continues his down the stretch performance, he should have somewhere between 4-6 sacks.
Joseph also gets it down against the run, ranking 5th in the league in run stop percentage with 25 run stops on 286 run stopping snaps, a rate of 8.7%. If you include playoffs, he ranked only slightly lower, 9th, with a rate of 8.3%. The big 328 pounder’s specialty has obviously always been the run, but if he continues to improve as a pass rusher, he would be the complete package and could break out as one of the better defensive tackles in the league.
If you’re interested in doing a fantasy football league with me, here’s the link (no draft date set yet, currently standard, with the option to become PPR with group vote). http://msn.foxsports.com/fantasy/football/commissioner/Registration/Private.aspx?league=55086&password=FanSpot2