Every year, somebody ends up being less relevant than we thought. Be it an injury or being outplayed by a backup and losing their starting job, or maybe they just aren't as good as we thought. Laurent Robinson, Donnie Avery, Jason Smith, Marc Bulger (to a degree, he was already on the slide), Adam Carriker (same) ... Someone always disappoints.
On the other hand, someone else always surprises ... that is to say, they surpass expectations. Maybe they were a rookie without high expectations, maybe they've been a bench warmer their whole career and finally 'got it.' James Laurinaitis, Gary Gibson, Danny Amendola ... they surpassed my expectations. Did I think Animal Jr. would start and play reasonably well? Yes. Did I think he'd play THAT well? No.
So, who's going to be our hidden gem this year? Anyone is fair game, but you have to compare against what's expected. For example, a 1400 yard 8 TD season wouldn't count as a surprise from Steven Jackson. We expect him (body willing) to be our beast.
A 1000 yard season with 6 TD's for Brandon Gibson would qualify. Starting all 16 games with 2500 yards and 20 TD for Bradford would not.
That being said, a 2000 yard 20 TD season from SJax would qualify. Phil Trautwein making the pro bowl at right tackle would qualify. Those are extreme, but hopefully you get my drift.
I'll post some options for a poll but feel free to add someone I missed. I'll leave out the obvious stars for now.