Cleveland Browns’ 5 Biggest Breakout Candidates of 2014

The Cleveland Browns' 5 Biggest Breakout Candidates of 2014

Tashaun Gipson
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In recent seasons, the Cleveland Browns have seen production from players in key positions. But, in order for the Browns to compete in 2014, they must have stellar seasons from those who are on the cusp of becoming household names. Here is a look at some of the players who could emerge as breakout candidates in 2014 for Cleveland.

5. Jabaal Sheard, DL/LB

Jabaal Sheard
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5. Jabaal Sheard, LB/DL

Jabaal Sheard
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When the Browns hired new head coach Mike Pettine, their defense received an instant boost -- specifically the linebackers. Pettine brought along his linebacker coach Jim O'Neil to coordinate the defense. With an emphasis on blitzing from the second level, and teams focusing on LB Paul Kruger, Sheard should be seeing the backfield frequently. His speed and agility will fit nicely in the Browns' new defense.

4. Tashaun Gipson, FS

Tashaun Gipson
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4. Tashaun Gipson, FS

Tashaun Gipson
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Tashaun Gipson is mainly known as the guy who hurt Jermichael Finley in 2013. Aside from his hard-hitting ways, Gipson is ready to break out in 2014 and has the support to do so. With Pro Bowl CB Joe Haden and the arrival of strong safety Donte Whitner, the young safety should be able to roam the defensive backfield without having to worry about the run or the wide side of the field. Gipson should be a difference maker in 2014.

3. Brian Hoyer, QB

Brian Hoyer
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3. Brian Hoyer, QB

Brian Hoyer
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In 2013, Brian Hoyer showed he has the tools to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. However, a knee injury in his third start derailed his season. Heading into 2014, Hoyer has the offensive weapons to win games and be known as a legitimate starter, but he'll need to branch off momentum from last season. The new offense in Cleveland will feature balance, but will also allow Hoyer to take chances downfield — allowing for a breakout season.

2. Andrew Hawkins, WR

Andrew Hawkins
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2. Andrew Hawkins, WR

Andrew Hawkins
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When Hawkins signed with the Browns during the offseason, he became an instant upgrade over previous slot receiver Davone Bess. Hawkins was able to average over 11 yards after the catch in 2013 and should be able to continue that pace with the Browns. With opponents focusing on deep threat Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, Hawkins and his 5-7 frame could slip the cracks of opposing defenses. Look for Hawkins to shine in 2014.

1. Barkevious Mingo, LB

Barkevious Mingo
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1. Barkevious Mingo, LB

Barkevious Mingo
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Like Sheard, Mingo is poised to breakout in 2014. When the Browns drafted Mingo in 2013, they were getting an athletic LB who displayed an amazing ability to get into the backfield while at LSU. However, Mingo initially struggled to adjust to the NFL game but was able to come up with five sacks. Heading into his second year, Mingo's athleticism, and the Browns' defensive schemes, will enable him put up big numbers this season.


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