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

Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars
Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

The AFC South will likely be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL this coming season.

While the Houston Texans will certainly be the favorites to win the division going into the 2024 NFL campaign, any of the four clubs in the AFC South can finish on top.

Is it the best division? No, but it will certainly be fun to watch.

For example, last season, no one expected the Texans to contend. As a matter of fact, most had them projected to finish in the cellar of the division. Instead, they won 10 games and captured the crown.

The unpredictability is what makes this division so fun to monitor.

Now, let’s predict one player from each AFC South squad who could potentially have a breakout season in 2024.

Houston Texans: Will Anderson Jr., DE.

Will Anderson Jr. had an impressive rookie campaign, registering 45 tackles and seven sacks en route to a Pro Bowl appearance. Did he deserve the trip to the Pro Bowl? Probably not, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was a terrific debut for him.

But heading into 2024, Anderson will have a chance to establish himself as one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL.

The Texans signed top-flight edge rusher Danielle Hunter in free agency, meaning that Anderson may be freed up for some more quarterback pressures this coming season.

Anderson would have been a breakout candidate even without Hunter’s presence, but now that Houston just added one of the league’s best pass rushers, Anderson’s job just got easier.

Six of Anderson’s seven sacks came in November and December in 2023, so he definitely got stronger as the season progressed. We’ll see if that carries over into 2024.

Indianapolis Colts: Jelani Woods, TE.

The obvious pick here is quarterback Anthony Richardson, but we really don’t know how he is going to look after his recovery from shoulder surgery. Plus, he played in just four games during his rookie campaign in 2023, so this will almost be like a rookie year for him. Ergo, there will be some growing pains.

There will be a lot of attention on the Colts’ wide receivers next season, and for good reason. Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs, Alec Pierce and incoming rookie Adonai Mitchell is an impressive group. That could ultimately open up third-year tight end Jelani Woods for some opportunities.

Woods caught 25 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns during his debut season in 2022, but he missed all of last year due to hamstring injuries.

The former third-round pick is back and prepared for action in 2024, and the 6-foot-7, 255-pound behemoth could have some big things in store.

Woods isn’t exactly Antonio Gates in terms of athleticism, but he is athletic enough to gain some separation, and he has good hands.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Travon Walker, EDGE.

The Jaguars selected Travon Walker with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, but he had a disappointing rookie campaign, logging 49 tackles, 3.5 sacks and an interception.

However, in 2023, Walker began to display why Jacksonville made him its top overall selection. The 23-year-old played in every game, finishing with 52 tackles and 10 sacks.

One can argue that Walker already broke out last season, and that’s fair. But he is talented enough to post even bigger numbers in 2024 and potentially make a Pro Bowl.

The combination of Walker and Josh Allen could be absolutely lethal for the Jaguars next season, and Allen’s mere presence should further open up Walker. Plus, Jacksonville added defensive lineman Arik Armstead in free agency to bolster the front seven even more.

Walker has everything he needs for a breakout campaign in 2024. He logged 4.5 sacks in December of last year, so he began trending up toward the end of 2023. Look for him to continue progressing.

Tennessee Titans: Tyjae Spears, RB.

Everyone will be looking for quarterback Will Levis to bust out in 2024, and there is no question that he is the Titans’ most important player for obvious reasons.

However, it’s Tyjae Spears who seems most primed for a breakout.

Spears rushed for 453 yards and a couple of touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry as Tennessee’s No. 2 running back behind Derrick Henry last season, which was his rookie year. But it was what Spears did as a receiver that was most impressive, as he hauled in 52 receptions.

Henry is no longer aboard, and the Titans ended up replacing him with Tony Pollard in free agency. Pollard does have a couple of 1,000-yard campaigns under his belt, but it’s hard to imagine Tennessee views him as the same type of bell cow as Henry. That could mean more touches for Spears in 2024.

You also have to think that the Titans are going to want to run the ball quite a bit to take some pressure off of Levis. Anticipate a much bigger season from Spears this coming season.

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