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Soon to be stars: Koa Misi

Scouts Inc.’s Matt Williamson looks at AFC East players on the verge of a breakout in 2011.

Koa Misi certainly benefits from having stud pass-rusher Cameron Wake on the opposite side of him in Miami’s 3-4 scheme, but this is an impressive young player in his own right who is poised for a breakout year in 2011. In fact, I think the Miami defense as a whole is on the verge of establishing itself as one of the truly elite units in the NFL.

A great defensive line that should be much healthier this year will have a lot to do with this, but so will the development of this 24-year old linebacker. Misi has a sturdy frame and plays to the whistle snap after snap. His pass-rushing arsenal should improve with experience, but he is already very sturdy securing the edge as a run defender. In this respect, Misi was one of the better run defenders at his position last year.

Along with Misi, this Miami defense has plenty of young players who could qualify as on the verge of stardom. To go along with what I expect to be an outstanding and improving defensive line, Vontae Davis and Sean Smith could be on the cusp of becoming perhaps the premier tandem of corners in the league. In fact, both Davis and Smith are superior players to Misi at this point. But having all this talent surrounding the second-year outside linebacker should put him in a position to flourish.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.