1 Breakout Player From Each AFC East Team For 2024 NFL Season

Breece Hall, New York Jets
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC East is one of the most interesting divisions in the NFL heading into 2024.

It isn’t a powerhouse like the AFC North. It doesn’t have a clear-cut favorite like the AFC West. It also doesn’t have four teams that can legitimately win the division like the AFC South.

But, it does have three very intriguing ballclubs (sorry, New England Patriots fans) who all have the potential to register double-digit win campaigns this coming season.

Let’s identify one player from each AFC East squad who could potentially break out and put the NFL on notice come September.

Buffalo Bills: Khalil Shakir, WR.

The Bills subtracted their top two wide receivers this offseason, losing Gabe Davis to free agency and trading Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans.

That leaves a rather gaping hole at the top of Buffalo’s depth chart, and the club will have several wide outs fighting for the No. 1 role.

The Bills signed Curtis Samuel in free agency, and they took Keon Coleman in the second round of the NFL Draft. But they do have one interesting holdover: Khalil Shakir.

Shakir was Buffalo’s No. 3 receiver in 2023 and managed to catch 39 passes for 611 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

Josh Allen has familiarity and camaraderie with Shakir, something he does not possess with either Samuel or Coleman. That means Shakir could end up being Allen’s favorite target (at least as far as wide receivers are concerned) right out of the gate in 2024.

Shakir has blazing speed and has displayed solid ability in basically every area: good hands, decent route-running ability and a penchant for making plays after the catch.

The 24-year-old may end up surprising some people next season.

Miami Dolphins: De’Von Achane, RB.

De’Von Achane was on his way to enjoying a historic 2024 campaign before injuries thwarted his efforts.

In 11 games, Achane rushed for 800 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging an insane 7.8 yards per carry. He also logged 27 catches for 197 yards and three scores.

Achane rattled off three straight monster performances between Weeks 3 and 5, totaling 455 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He registered 12.3 yards per attempt during that stretch. Additionally, he added a couple of receiving scores.

The 22-year-old then missed four of the next five games due to injury and proceeded to only log one more 100-yard outing the rest of the way.

Now that Achane is healthy, look for him to post a huge season this coming year.

Yes, Achane is sharing a backfield with Raheem Mostert in Miami, but he may end up stealing the starting job as the season progresses.

The Dolphins have an explosive offense, and Achane may very well be the second-most electrifying player on the roster behind Tyreek Hill.

New York Jets: Breece Hall, RB.

One can make the argument that Breece Hall actually broke out this past season, registering 994 yards and five touchdowns on the ground while also hauling in 76 receptions for 591 yards and four scores.

But now that Aaron Rodgers is back under center for the Jets, Hall could be in for an even bigger 2024.

Think about it: Hall achieved those numbers this past season in spite of New York having to roll with Zach Wilson and Trevor Siemian at quarterback. Opponents were specifically gameplanning to stop Hall, so they stacked the box and dared Wilson (and Siemian, when he played) to beat them.

All that, and Hall still managed to total nearly 1,000 yards as a rusher.

The Jets added more weapons this offseason, signing wide receiver Mike Williams and drafting wide out Malachi Corley. Plus, they improved what had been a miserable offensive line.

So, Hall will have a far superior quarterback, more weapons for opposing defenses to worry about and will be running behind a much better offensive line.

Seems like a big-time season could be in order for the third-year pro.

New England Patriots: Christian Gonzalez, CB.

When the Patriots selected Christian Gonzalez with the 17th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft, many felt that New England had landed an absolute steal.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of Gonzalez during his rookie campaign, as he hit the injured reserve list with a shoulder injury after just four games.

Gonzalez underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, but the good news is that it seems like he will be a full go for Week 1.

The 21-year-old flashed his potential when he was on the field in 2023, logging 17 tackles, a sack, an interception and three passes defended.

In spite of going just 4-13, the Patriots boasted one of the league’s best defenses this past year. Gonzalez will benefit from having a strong front seven ahead of him, taking considerable pressure off of him in the squad’s defensive backfield.

Gonzalez will have to deal with some fierce aerial attacks within the division, but what better way for the University of Oregon product to cut his teeth in the NFL?

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