Deebo Samuel changed the game in 2021 with San Francisco. He offered a hybrid role that combined the best attributes of wide receivers and running backs. Dallas watched this with curious eyes and hope that Pollard can fill a similar role. Amari Cooper left during the offseason so there’s a chance for him to explode.
Ezekiel Elliot is still the main man in Dallas for better or for worse. But Pollard will enjoy more opportunities because Cooper isn’t standing in his way. He played in 15 games in 2021 but didn’t start one. Now there’s a chance that he’ll have a breakout year and this will please the fans (via Sporting News).
There are three reasons why an NFL prospect may fall short of expectations. First, they have a poor attitude and take their place in the league for granted. Then, a change in coaching staff may upend everything they worked for. But injuries may be the most frustrating problem that athletes contend with.
Smith knows all about the latter because they’ve afflicted his career. He arrived in Minnesota with big expectations on his shoulders but tore his meniscus. The tight end missed the entire 2021 season but wants to prove that he’s not a bust (via The Draft Network).
Detroit firmly believes that they selected the best player in the 2022 Draft. Hutchinson became the second-overall pick and carries the expectations of the franchise on his massive shoulders. The early signs are good that he’s set up for an immediate breakout in his rookie season.
Great preseason performances against the likes of the Falcons put smiles on Lions’ faces. Some players are immediately ready for the NFL and Hutchinson is one of them. Confidence is key for the former Michigan star but he can make a huge difference for the Lions (via Detroit Free Press).
Charvarius Ward was one of several high-profile players who left the Chiefs during the offseason. Fenton is entering his fourth year in the NFL and hopes to replace the cornerback. He will compete with highly drafted rookie Trent McDuffie for a starting role but is in the driving seat.
Fenton is excellent at providing tight coverage and is one of the most underrated players on the Kansas City roster. However, he wants to improve his on-ball production because that’s where he falls short. If he does that, he’ll be in line for a breakout season in Missouri (via KSHB).
It’s always exciting when a rookie has a breakout season but it doesn’t happen very often. Usually, it takes a couple of years for a player to acclimatize to the NFL. But the Raiders think that White may be ready now and plan to give him many opportunities.
The running back is a great downhill runner and appears to be very compatible with Josh McDaniels’ style. White can learn from Josh Jacobs and potentially usurp the veteran. Few expect him to be the man right now but he may show flashes when he plays (via Las Vegas Review-Journal).
The Jags suffered a major blow when Etienne tore a ligament and missed his entire rookie season. But now he’s back with a vengeance and hopes for a breakout year. If the franchise is to take a step forward under Doug Pederson, they’ll require him to be at his best (via USA Today Sports).
Etienne starred at Clemson alongside Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and has a strong bond with the quarterback. It remains to be seen how well his foot recuperated from the injury. In the past, it could rob a player of their pace. But he’s young and should rebound effectively.
McCaffrey is an early favorite to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. The running back has endured a couple of frustrating seasons after the Panthers handed him a record-breaking contract. Now he wants to show the world that he is still one of the most exciting players in the league.
If McCaffrey stays fit he’ll play a massive role in the Panthers’ season. They have a new quarterback again in Baker Mayfield and may shock a few teams in 2022. McCaffrey hopes that this will be another breakout year and that his body won’t let him down again (via Pro Football Network).
Epps took the long route to the top of the NFL after the Vikings waived him. Their loss was Philadelphia’s gain because they picked him up and placed him on their practice squad. Now he’s a bonafide starter and could be in line for a breakout season.
He was the number three safety in 2021 but is emerging as a genuine option. Epps posted career-high numbers last year and hopes to flourish further. It’s always fantastic when a player takes this type of path to stardom because they value their opportunities (via ESPN South Jersey).
Tryon-Shoyinka proved his worth as a rookie with some memorable sacks. Tampa used the linebacker as a rotational option but they will use him more as a sophomore. Jason Pierre-Paul had a tough 2021 and injuries continue to afflict the veteran.
Now there’s a young dog in town and he’s ready for a breakout season. He’ll fill the void if Pierre-Paul retires or falls down the pecking order. The Buccaneers trust the former Huskies star and believe that he will become an important player. It’s time for him to show what he can do (via USA Today Sports).
Many people want the Browns to crash and burn in 2022 after their pursuit of controversial star Deshaun Watson. But the Cleveland faithful have hope that some of their rosters will improve this season. The front office surprised many fans when they handed their tight end a massive extension.
They believe that this will be a breakout season for Njoku because he had bad luck so far. Injuries limited his productivity since his best year in 2018. Now it’s time for the former Miami Hurricanes standout to bounce back and prove that he’s able to cut it at the top (via Heavy).
The Eagles are quietly building an interesting project in the NFC East. They may have a shot at the postseason in 2022 because none of the other teams stand out. Their quarterback will play a decisive role in securing a place in the playoffs or falling short (via The Spun).
Philly obtained A.J. Brown during the offseason and increased Hurts’ weapons. Now they must play to his strengths and ensure that they’re maximizing his potential. This could be a breakout year for the former Sooners’ star but there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
The Saints continue to have issues at quarterback and tight end but their defense remains on point. They expect Werner to move into a consistent starting role at linebacker after arriving as a second-rounder. It may be early days for the former Ohio State athlete but they hope he’ll succeed.
Demario Davis will provide him with a lot of support and inspiration in New Orleans. Meanwhile, new coach Dennis Allen will try to get the best of him. Allen was a former defensive coordinator and appreciates this type of player so hopefully, this will be a breakout season for the potential star linebacker (via SB Nation).
The Panthers believed that they secured a diamond when they drafted Horn in 2021. The former South Carolina cornerback had a great start to his career and left the fans licking their lips. Then he suffered a cruel blow as he broke his foot and missed the final 14 games of the season.
It was a brutal end to a bright beginning because he showed that he was NFL-ready. Now Horn has a chip on his shoulder and wants to prove that this injury hasn’t changed him. He wants to add to his single interception that he posted against the Saints’ Jameis Winston (via Sports Illustrated).
Many Minnesota fans don’t like their quarterback, Kirk Cousins. But nobody has a bad thing to say about the man who is providing him with protection. Cue the Whitney Houston music because Darrisaw is entering the building. He offers phenomenal blindside protection to the polarizing QB.
Now the offensive tackle has a year of experience under his belt. The signs point toward a significant breakout season and he may even make the Pro Bowl. Darrisaw has immense talent and phenomenal attributes but it’s up to him to step up (via Daily Norseman).
It was a case of too much too soon for Peoples-Jones in his rookie season. He found himself as the Browns’ primary outside receiver after Odell Beckham Jr. hunted for Super Bowl rings. The wideout didn’t deliver optimal results but he remains an unpolished gem.
But now there’s a real chance that he will blossom as Cleveland’s second receiver. It doesn’t help that their quarterback situation is up in the air. Nonetheless, Peoples-Jones is a skillful player and a great athlete so it’s likely that this will be a breakout year (via PFF).
Hardman is a patient man but that’s just as well because he’s waiting for his chance in Kansas City. The wide receiver has a massive opportunity because Tyreek Hill left for the Miami Dolphins. Now he hopes to receive more passes and become a lethal weapon for Patrick Mahomes.
He is one of the league’s most underrated players but this could be a massive breakout season for him. If he does it will be a huge gain for the Chiefs because they’re going through a period of transition. Some people think they will falter in 2022 but Hardman is here to ensure they keep rolling (via Fansided).
Savage is entering his fourth season as a professional in Green Bay where this is a lot of expectation on his shoulders. They believe that he’ll flourish after faltering slightly last year. There’s a good chance that Savage will be back in the Pro Bowl conversation if everything goes to plan in 2022.
The safety injured his hamstring during a practice session but it doesn’t appear to be serious. Green Bay has a lot of strength in this area but Savage can be a standout. Savage didn’t have his best year in 2021 but still started 17 games for the franchise (via TSN).
The Patriots performed much better than many people expected in 2021. Now they hope to close the gap on the Bills and move back into postseason contention. However, there is a deficit in the secondary and that’s where Barmore becomes an important figure (via Boston Herald).
Barmore is another defensive end who came off the Crimson Tide production line. He enjoyed a decent rookie season but must add more sacks to his game. If he does he could become one of the most influential players in the AFC East. He’s not the most glamorous figure but he could be a significant building block.
The Seahawks lost one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in 2022 when Russell Wilson joined the Broncos. This is a massive blow but there’s another gaping hole in their team that nobody is talking about. Longtime Seahawk and future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner departed for the Rams.
However, Pete Carroll believes that Seattle has a ready-made replacement in Brooks. He says that the linebacker will make defensive play-calls and become one of the team’s leaders. It’s a big gamble but he thinks that the Texas Tech product is ready for a breakout season (via Seattle Sports).
NFL fans could watch the AFC West for the entire season and skip the rest of the league. They probably wouldn’t miss out on much either because it’s so exciting. Kansas City is the frontrunner but their divisional rivals also made big moves in the offseason.
The Raiders are dark horses to succeed because they have a settled quarterback and a deep roster. Deablo may develop into a breakout star this year too. The linebacker has a lot to offer and can also play as a safety. This makes him a useful depth asset (via 247 Sports).
Chicago coaches raved about Kmet’s potential when he joined the franchise in 2020. There’s no denying that he has a massive ceiling but he doesn’t make enough catches. It’s time to change that this season because the Bears want him to step up. The signs are promising after a decent offseason.
New coordinator Luke Getsy attracted a lot of praise for his dynamic attacking scheme during the preseason. Kmet caught a memorable touchdown against the Browns but the pressure of regular season football is different. He’s a good bet for a breakout year because Chicago is improving (via NBC Sports).
The less said about the Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback situation, the better. Marcus Mariota will start the season in the driving seat but Desmond Ridder is breathing down his neck. Luckily, there is a better situation in the receiver department with the acquisition of London (via USA Today Sports).
This rookie has a great opportunity to stake his claim because Calvin Ridley is serving a suspension. He has a lot of talent and hopes to have a breakout year. Atlanta used the eighth-overall pick as they selected the former USC star. He’s an exciting prospect and one who will have a big say in their fortunes.
Many fans think that this is finally the year that the Bills break their Super Bowl duck. They also believe that Davis will play a big role in helping the franchise achieve glory. Davis is very young but he’s stepping up to the plate after a couple of high-profile veterans departed.
The dynamic Josh Allen is throwing passes to the wideout in an exciting combination. Davis was good in 2021 but can be brilliant if everything goes to plan. He caught six touchdowns as the Bills’ fourth-choice receiver which isn’t bad at all. But he has a very high ceiling and can be elite (via DraftKings Nation).
A wide receiver may have all of the talents in the world but it doesn’t matter if their quarterback isn’t up to scratch. Jeudy had a rough 2021 with Teddy Bridgewater throwing passes and injuries affecting him. However, he finds himself in a fantastic situation with Russell Wilson in the driver’s seat.
Jeudy’s stats should explode this season in what could be a breakout year for the Crimson Tide standout. Expectations fell short last time out but now he has a chance to make it right. Jeudy doesn’t want to go down as an NFL nearly-man so he will be out to impress (via Mile High Sports).
Moore had a decent season with the Jets despite difficult circumstances. Firstly, he was playing in the same team as an undercooked Zach Wilson. Then he suffered a quad injury in December and didn’t feature again. But he still scored five touchdowns in 11 appearances.
Unfortunately, Moore depends on Wilson stepping up his game in his sophomore year. If the pair strike up a connection the AFC East will an interesting division. The Patriots and the Bills require competition but it’s unclear where it will come from at this moment (via N.Y. Post).
Many Titans fans think that Fulton already had a breakout season after he became the franchise’s best cornerback. However, the rest of the NFL didn’t pay much attention to this underrated athlete. Now he’s out to prove his worth and enter the Pro Bowl conversation (via The Tennessean).
Fulton’s stats rose dramatically in his sophomore year but he’s not finished yet. This young man has the potential to become a standout in his position. He was a national champion with LSU and plans to bring glory to Tennessee too. The Titans have an outstanding gem on their hands if they use him wisely.
The Detroit Lions put a lot of faith into Okudah when they made him the third-overall pick in 2020. But he hasn’t repaid them because he only played 10 games for the franchise. Fitness issues continued to torment him last year but now it appears that he’s finally fit (via The Spun).
If Okudah stays fit he will be a tremendous asset because his tackling is brilliant. It’s too bad that fans didn’t see it consistently but there’s still hope that he will come good. Okudah doesn’t want to receive the ‘bust’ label but he’s flirting dangerously with it. Now it’s time for a breakout season.
Nobody has a bigger chip on their shoulder in 2022 than Mayfield. Even his critics admitted that Cleveland treated him appalling as they pushed him out the door and signed an alleged sexual abuser. But the Panthers offered him a shot at redemption and made him their starter.
He won their preseason quarterback competition and pushed Sam Darnold into the backup seat. He allegedly said that he’s going to do something very bad to the Browns in Week One. It’s going to be interesting to see if he can have a breakout year in a more functional situation (via FOX Sports).
Aaron Donald is the Rams’ foremost standout player. He dominates the Defensive Player of the Year award and overshadows his rivals. Donald even closed out the Super Bowl last year. It’s not easy to be his teammate either because he’s so good. Gaines is the Rams’ other starting defensive end and deserves more respect.
He doesn’t receive the same plaudits but he’s still a good talent. Gaines played a key role as the Rams won the Super Bowl and defeated the Bengals. He’s not as flashy as Donald but he brings consistency to the table. This could be a breakout season for Gaines as he takes on more responsibility (via Draft Kings Nation).
One of Green Bay’s key players is a man named Mr. A. Rodgers. No, we’re not talking about their elite quarterback but their second-year wideout. There’s no disguising the loss of Davante Adams because he is one of the NFL’s best athletes. But Rodgers hopes to fill the gap with his skills and versatility.
Furthermore, he can play snaps at running back as he adds to the Packers’ depth in the position. He isn’t a like-for-like replacement for Adams but he’s a valuable asset. Rodgers may develop into a crucial gadget player as he also returns punts and kicks (via USA Today Sports).
Tagovailoa has no excuses in 2022 because the Dolphins went all out in acquiring his weapons. He had a tough couple of seasons so it’s do-or-die for the Hawaiian. It’s highly conceivable that Miami would have acquired DeShaun Watson if that deal made sense.
Mike McDaniels wants his quarterback to succeed and believes he can unlock a breakout season. Meanwhile, the likes of Tyreek Hill will provide an elite outlet for the former Alabama star. However, fans have their doubts about Tagovailoa so he must prove himself now (via The Ringer).
Oweh made a good impression in his rookie season as an outside linebacker. The pass-rusher proved his toughness and tenacity as he won the Defensive Player of the Week award. That’s no small achievement for a new NFL player considering the competition and the quality of the league.
The Ravens have a lot of questions in offense but this is one area where they’re on fire. They hope that Oweh will lead their next generation and become a devastating talent. Patrick Mahomes knows all about the former Penn State star because he took a brutal hit from him (via Russell Street Report).
Surtain’s father was a three-time Pro Bowler so he has a phenomenal pedigree. The cornerback was brilliant for Alabama and had a decent rookie season in Denver. He even won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance against the Chargers.
Now the onus is on Surtain to take the next step and develop into an elite NFL talent. Denver has an exciting roster in 2022 and hopes to become a contender. Surtain’s progress will heavily influence their ambitions because his ceiling is so high (via Sky Sports).
Rousseau impressed the Bills Mafia throughout his rookie season and hopes to be a bigger influence in 2022. There’s no reason why the defensive end won’t develop into one of the NFL’s best players. He’s not the finished product yet but there’s the hope of a breakout season in upstate New York.
Meanwhile, he’s learning from one of the best defensive players in the business in Von Miller. The veteran’s presence will bring a surety to Rousseau’s game. They’re not the same type of player but Miller will be a positive influence on Rousseau and an inspiration (via Democrat and Chronicle).
It’s fair to say that the entire Bengals roster had a breakout season in 2021. However, the likes of Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase stole the plaudits. If we look further down their depth charts one potential candidate jumps out. We’re talking about Ossai because this young defensive end has a lot of upside.
Many people forgot about him after he suffered a season-ending injury but he’s back with a vengeance. Suddenly, the Bengals have a frightening defensive line. This team wants to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. They have youth on their side and a chip on their shoulder (via Dallas News).
The Falcons swapped a fifth-round pick for Edwards and a seventh-round pick during the 2022 offseason. It was a low-risk move with the potential of a high reward. Edwards has massive potential for a breakout season after leaving the Raiders and joining Atlanta.
Nobody is saying that the Falcons are better at wideout without the suspended Calvin Ridley. But the impetuous Edwards offers youthful invention and dynamism. It’s going to be exciting to see what he can do in Georgia as he looks to prove himself in the NFL (via Sports Illustrated).
Jones landed in the best rookie quarterback situation in 2021 when he fell onto Bill Belichick’s lap. Nobody can pretend that he was elite but he enjoyed some decent moments. The Patriots weren’t too far from the postseason and even enjoyed a win over their rivals, the Bills (via Boston.com).
That year of experience will have done wonders for Jones’s progress. He’s aware of what it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback now and is taking it seriously. Photographs emerged during the offseason of Jones after he bulked up. He wants to become the next Joe Burrow and it’s not impossible.
Whisper it but the Cardinals have one of the most fascinating wideout units in the NFC West. DeAndre Hopkins is serving a suspension but Marquis Brown will help to fill the void. Moore is another valuable asset with a lot to offer quarterback Kyler Murray (via Bleacher Report).
The former Purdue star hopes to make his mark after Christian Kirk left in free agency. He had a solid rookie year but this could be a breakout season for the young man. Chase Edmonds also departed so Moore may tread the line between wide receiver and running back.
Carr is another relative veteran who may have a breakout year. He’s in the most competitive division in the NFL but is determined not to make up the numbers. Davante Adams might be the standout receiver in the AFC West and this may give the Raiders an advantage over the Chiefs.
Their quarterback wants to prove that he’s more than decent. Finally, he has elite weapons at his disposal and an attack-minded coach in Josh McDaniels. Don’t be shocked if the Raiders sneak into the postseason this season because they’re quietly building something special (via TWSN).
Hollywood Brown thinks that he’s one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. However, he didn’t deliver his full promise to the Ravens. Now he’s playing in Arizona with his best friend and former college teammate, Kyler Murray. On paper, it’s a match made in heaven (via AZCardinals.com).
It’s time for Brown to put his money where his mouth is and prove his worth. Brown cited happiness as a major reason why he joined the Cardinals. He loves Baltimore but believes he’s in a better place mentally now. This could be a breakout year because DeAndre Hopkins will miss a huge chunk of it due to suspensions.
Mitchell Trubisky will be the Steelers’ Week One starter but Pickett isn’t out of the picture. The young quarterback is in a great situation because he played for Pitt. He knows the stadium well and is a local icon already. The fans want him to succeed and Mike Tomlin will give him a shot.
Trubisky knows that he’s on borrowed time unless he explodes. Pickett has a lot of talent and was the only first-round quarterback in 2022. This was highly unusual but it’s also fascinating to see that the Steelers took a punt on the young man (via Fansided).
The Jets threw Wilson into the deep water in 2021 but he came close to drowning. However, Wilson isn’t lacking in confidence and believes that this will be a breakout season. It hasn’t been the preseason that he wanted because he suffered a knee injury that makes him doubtful in Week One.
Meanwhile, a salacious scandal emerged after he allegedly slept with his mother’s best friend. Gang Green hopes that these distractions won’t follow him onto the field. But now the Jets have more balance and better weapons so the hope is on the horizon (via Sportskeeda).
Paye underwent a serious learning curve in his rookie year but the best sense possible. He performed well as he learned his trade with the Colts as an edge rusher. Now the former Michigan standout is in a great position to take this experience and become a leader in his position (via Detroit Free Press).
Indianapolis used a first-round pick on the Wolverines’ athlete despite his relative rawness. But this left them with a lot to work with and he’s improving annually. Nobody is going to think of Paye immediately when they consider breakout players but he deserves a place on this list.
Lawrence arrived in the NFL as the most-hyped quarterback since Andrew Luck. However, his year didn’t go to plan because he arrived at a dysfunctional franchise with Urban Meyer as head coach. Hopefully, things will stabilize in his sophomore year under new coach Doug Pederson (via The Athletic).
Analysts projected Lawrence to become of the best players of his generation. There are a lot of expectations on his shoulders but this is a big season for him. The Jaguars are better in 2022 so it’s time for Lawrence to step and show improvements in his game. The hype train hasn’t derailed yet because there’s a long way to go.
Wilson’s inclusion on this list may seem strange because he spent a decade with the Seahawks. But this may be a breakout year for the quarterback after he joined the Broncos. He hopes to turn Denver into a contender again and potentially lead them to another Super Bowl.
Fans aren’t sure if Wilson or Pete Carroll stagnated in Seattle but they’ll find out this year. It may be slightly too early for Denver to compete but Wilson is already an MVP favorite. He never won the coveted individual award before but many analysts believe that this could be his year (via The Sportster).
Kansas City fans raved about Bolton after the linebacker’s early performances. He showed flashes of elite quality in his rookie season and now it’s time for him to reach the next level. Bolton will be playing in Pro Bowl games very soon if he continues his excellent form.
He made 112 tackles in his rookie year as he adapted to the intensity of the professional sport. Now he’s ready to produce as a sophomore and show the Chiefs that they’ve secured a gem. Bolton’s potential is very exciting and he is a good bet for a breakout season (via KSHB).
Several analysts believed that the Bears pulled off a coup when they drafted Fields in 2021. They pointed to his outstanding IQ and his phenomenal displays for Ohio State. Then he suffered nine sacks in his debut and reality hit him hard. It wasn’t an easy rookie season for Fields but the Bears didn’t help him much.
Now it’s time for Chicago and Fields to progress together. He was excellent during their preseason and fans hope that the team will offer him more protection. Fields have a ceiling that’s higher than the Burj Khalifa but there are no parachutes if he falls in the NFL (via Chicago Sun-Times).
Joe Burrow overshadowed Herbert in 2021 because of the Bengals’ unexpected run to a Super Bowl final. However, Herbert is arguably the most talented young quarterback in the NFL today. He deserved more shine but his franchise failed to make the playoffs (via L.A. Times).
The Chargers have accumulated one of the most balanced receivers and running back corps in the league. This will be to Herbert’s advantage as he looks to unlock teams throughout the season. Watching how far he can take his team in a potential breakout year will be exciting.
Many people think that Lamar Jackson underperformed in 2021 but perhaps former No. 1 receiver Marquise Brown was part of the problem. Anyway, ‘Hollywood’ is in Arizona now and Bateman is his replacement. Perhaps the new receiver will get the best out of one of the NFL’s most polarizing quarterbacks.
The 2021 first-round pick is an exciting talent and hopes to revive the Ravens’ faltering attack. They fell short of expectations over the past couple of years and require an elite wideout to make the difference. Baltimore wants to play a more dynamic offensive scheme and Bateman is a crucial asset (via The Ringer).
Many NFL fans are keeping a close eye on Lance because he will be the Niners’ starter in Week One. Kyle Shanahan’s career as a head coach may ride on his young quarterback’s performances. He chose Lance as QB1 over the more experienced but inconsistent Jimmy Garoppolo.
Lance has many doubters who downplay his abilities because he played for North Dakota State. They also think that Jimmy G. will oust the youngster by Week Five. However, Lance has a lot of talent and is in the driving seat for a breakout season. It will be fascinating to watch him even if he fails (via The Mercury News).