These ones are always hard. But I will go with Archie Lewis.
Last year, when Rees Odhiambo was lost for the season due to injury, Mr. Lewis stepped in, and honestly...he struggled a bit. There were definitely some questions there and that probably led to the staff to bring in Will Adams (graduate transfer from Auburn) for immediate depth. That move even caused some folks to project Adams as starter at left tackle. For me, Mr. Lewis took this competition in stride and succeeded. Yes, there was that unpleasant....sacking of Brett Rypien
But he kept his starting job (for the most part he started 8 of 13) and protected Rypien's blindside. The OL gave Rypien plenty of time to throw and were even up for the Joe Moore award given to the line as a whole. Lewis was a big part of that.
As far as players that showed the most improvement in 2016, with a dearth of true freshman there's plenty to pick from. Over the course of the year, I'd say there were a number of young, future contributors that flashed, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Officially, however, I'm going to go with Kekoa Nawahine. He went from coming back from a 2-year church mission, to working his way into game shape, and then playing time. By the time I started noticing him regularly, he was heavily rotated in at safety, and while he only had 14 total tackles, the ones he made counted...or at the very least made a literal impact.
I don't know that there was a better hit all year than DeAndre Pierce's felonious destruction of a Hawaii WR, but Kekoa had a few solid pops too.
More importantly, he seemed to often be in the right position to make them--particularly in the Air Force game. Unfortunately, that game didn't go well overall but it showed a lot of what Kekoa might be capable of in the future. Also, at 6' 2" 195, he has a large frame with proven athleticism. With a year of experience and an off-season of training, I think he could be more than an okay player for BSU in seasons to come.
I know I baited you guys into this roundtable by telling you there were no wrong answers...but here's the switch—you're both wrong. The most improved player on the Boise State football team was none other than the immaculately-nicknamed David Moa.
As a freshman in 2015, Mr. Moa appeared in just five game and though he registered one sack for every three tackles on the year a little shine comes off when you realize he had just 3 tackles total. Enter 2016 David Moa, who probably was one of the smallest nose tackles in the conference but went wild as a redshirt soph and registered 8.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, 4 pass break-ups and a game-sealing field goal block against BYU. Again, Moa did all this while giving up a good 30 pounds to most of his foes...no wonder he looked like he'd just ran an ultra-marathon at the end of the BYU slugfest.
Moa went from footnote to All-MWC first-teamer in a season. That’s just science.