Randy Starks - He'll return to 2009 form, which he lost in 2010 because he trained all off season at Nose and had to make a quick shift back to End in Week 2. What that did is give him a slow start, as he was out of practice playing the End position. As the season wore on, if you really pay attention, he started to round back out to his 2009 form. He'll hit the ground running in 2011, though.
Paul Soliai - There's some controversy over whether or not he's actually "broken out" already, but there's a difference between having broken out locally and having broken out nationally. Cameron Wake broke out locally in 2009, truth be told. We saw him making plays, we knew how effective he was getting to the passer and how exciting a player he could be. The rest of the NFL world didn't. Soliai is kind of like that. Nobody's really talking about him as being among the very best NTs in the game. But by the end of 2011 I think he could be talked about as much as the likes of Vince Wilfork or Haloti Ngata (even though he doesn't play Nose).
Brandon Marshall - He's faster, he's more fit, he's got his head in a better place, and I always believed that Year 2 of a big time veteran acquisition is a peak year. That first year, everyone can just kind of be feeling everything out. He still caught like 86 balls with over 1000 yards in 2010 even with a bad offense, bad quarterback and bad mental stability. He'll be the Beast again this year, especially if they do pull off an Orton trade after all.
Brian Hartline - The man gets open. I know people don't think highly of him, that's fine. They didn't think highly of Paul Soliai, either. Year 3 for a drafted wide receiver also seems to be a peak year, and I felt Davone Bess was better than ever last year in his Year 3. I think it's Brian Hartline's turn to step up. Again, especially if the Dolphins pull an Orton deal back from the brink.
Sean Smith - He was more reliable in coverage than Vontae Davis a year ago, he played smarter and got a jump on more passes, and he even tackled a lot more reliably. And this was only his fourth year playing on the defensive side of the football. He's a smart player and he's been hounding himself about those drops all year. Dropping the ball versus catching the ball was literally the only difference between Pro Bowl and relative obscurity in 2010. I expect him to catch the ball more in 2011.
Karlos Dansby - As I've been saying for months, it always seems to me that Year 2 is that peak year for a big time veteran acquisition. The first year, Dansby was still feeling his way out on the defense. Now, the Dolphins have cut Channing Crowder and told him that HE must be the man when it comes to film study, football IQ, getting everyone lined up, etc. That's a lot of responsibility. I notice reports that he's already pairing up with Kevin Burnett and trying to be with each other as much as possible. That's good. Burnett was not the brains of the San Diego LB outfit. That honor belonged to Stephen Cooper, whom Ron Rivera called one of if not the smartest player he's ever coached. Dansby's got the big money contract, so the Dolphins cut Crowder and said Karlos will be the man that makes the calls and communicates with everyone, not Crowder anymore. If he excels with this responsibility, he could finally make a Pro Bowl.
That's about it. Cameron Wake's already well broken out, the league regards him highly and he made the NFL's Top 100 list as voted on by players. Jake Long is well broken out, same thing. I don't know if Chad Henne will really break out. He might not even be the QB for the whole year. I don't ever usually like rookies to break out, although Mike Pouncey has his brother to thank for some extra publicity that he'll get on during the season. Kendall Langford has been steady progress, so I suppose he could end up getting national pub, but I think Randy will be the better player again in 2011. Reggie Bush will be the same and he might end up hurt too often to really break out, which would on the other hand provide an opportunity for Lex Hilliard to break out, but I don't think he'll run with that opportunity. It's still early for Koa Misi to really "break out". I think he'll be the utlity guy on the defense, kind of under-appreciated, does a lot of jobs, but doesn't have the glitzy sack stats everyone wants to see. I could see Chris Clemons taking a step backward, truth be told. Vontae Davis is in a situation similar to Kendall Langford, he could break out but my bet is on Sean Smith to get more pub because of interceptions. Anthony Fasano should already be considered a breakout player, but I think he could take a step backward this year. It was odd how in 2008 he performed really well then in 2009 he seemed like he couldn't hold onto the ball and really just floundered a bit. Then he took a big step forward in 2010, but now I could see him receding again a little in 2011.