With training camps open across the league, the time to look at ten NFL players poised to breakout during the 2021-2022 season is here. forward to next season is here. Changing on a year-to-year basis, 2020 posed unique challenges, with Covid-19 wiping out the chance to hold an in-person offseason. Along with this, daily testing procedures and league-wide protocols made the period difficult for many individual franchises and players. However, the 2020-2021 season still offered the chance for football fans everywhere to witness breakout performances from many different players across the league.
Bills star quarterback Josh Allen threw for a career-high 4,544 yards and 37 touchdowns, leading to a second-place finish in the Most Valuable Player voting. Furthermore, Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley hauled in a career-high 90 receptions for 1,374 yards in his third year in the league. Destined to witness more spectacular performances by young players next season, here are ten NFL players poised to breakout during the 2021-2022 season.
Ten NFL Players Poised to Breakout During the 2021-2022 Season
Davis showed flashes of excellence after being drafted by the Bills in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Hauling in 35 receptions on 62 targets, the University of Central Florida alumn racked up 599 yards and seven touchdowns. Averaging over 17.1 yards per catch, he helped lead the team to a wild-card game victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Posting four receptions for 85 yards, he made multiple toe-tapping catches along the sidelines to help the Buffalo offense kickstart drives. Look for the 22-year-old to have a more prominent role in Brian Daboll’s offense next season.
Once again competing for targets with star wideout Stefon Diggs and veteran slot man Cole Beasley, the team also brought in former New Orleans Saints member Emmanuel Sanders. Choosing to use four wide receivers in many offensive sets a year ago, look for Davis to benefit from single coverage against their opponent’s number three or four cornerback option. One of the best young deep threats in the game is the first member of our ten NFL players poised to breakout during the 2021-2022 season list.
D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
Surrounded by expectations as he enters his sophomore season with the Lions, Swift amassed 521 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 114 attempts a year ago. Contributing in the passing game, the second-round pick also racked up 357 yards on 46 receptions while adding two more scores. Starting in just four games for the team, he has both the burst and ability to change direction and make opposing defenders miss.
He is expected to be the focal point in Anthony Lynn’s offense in 2021. The former Los Angeles Chargers head coach has shown promise in guiding rushing attacks during his previous stints. The 52-year-old saw his offense lead the league in rushing yards and touchdowns during his time as the Buffalo Bills interim head coach and offensive coordinator. In addition to this, with Detroit’s skill position group remaining young and unproven after being gutted in the offseason, look for Swift to breakout during his second year in the league.
CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
Lamb was productive during his rookie season during his first five games with Dak Prescott under center. Recording two 100 yard receiving games, the University of Oklahoma alumn averaged over 14 yards per catch. Hauling in two touchdown receptions, he began to see a dip in his stats following the season-ending ankle injury to the Cowboys star quarterback.
Able to carve out a strong rookie campaign with different signal-callers in each game in Dallas, Lamb broke the franchise record for most catches by a first-year player with 74. Looking to man the slot in Mike McCarthy’s offense once again in 2021, Lamb played over 90% of his snaps in that position a year ago. With the ball skills and playmaking ability to be a threat at all field levels, look for the 22-year-old to establish himself as one of the go-to guys in Kellen Moore’s offense.
Laviska Shenault Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars
Surrounded by question marks at the wide reciever spot during the 2020 season, Shenault was one of the lone bright spots for the Jaguars. This was following a slip to the middle of the second round in the draft. The Texas native hauled in 58 receptions for 600 yards while averaging over four catches per game. Along with this, he trailed only Justin Jefferson, Chase Claypool, and Tee Higgins, with five touchdown grabs in 12 starts.
Possessing the size, strength, and speed to win downfield, look for him to have a more significant role in Jay Gruden’s offense next season. He will be the beneficiary of better quarterback play following Jacksonville’s selection of generational quarterback prospect Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick in April. Shenault is one of the team’s most important players and the 5th member on our Ten NFL Players Poised to Breakout During the 2021-2022 season list.
Stuck behind Jared Cook on the Saints tight end depth chart a year ago, Trautman appeared in 15 games for the team. Targeted just 16 times, the 23-year-old hauled in 15 balls for 171 yards and one touchdown. He is poised to take a significant leap forward in his second year in Sean Payton’s system. The University of Dayton product will enter the season as the lead dog on the depth chart following the departure of Cook to the Los Angeles Chargers. Seeing the position earn an average target share of 18% during the tenure of Drew Brees in New Orleans, look for that number to increase in 2021.
Destined for a more downfield passing scheme with either Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston under center, expect the tight end spot to become more of a focal point in the offense. Furthermore, Micheal Thomas is expected to miss the first chunk of the year following offseason ankle surgery, while Sanders is no longer a member of the organization after he landed with the Bills in free agency. One of the strongest prospects at the tight end spot in recent memory, the opportunity will arise for Trautman to become a star for New Orleans next season.
Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers
A former first-round pick of the Packers in 2019, Gary saw his snap count increase from 244 to 456 last season. Finishing second on the team behind Za’Darius Smith, the Michigan product, racked up five sacks in 15 games. In addition to this, the 23-year-old saw a significant jump in quarterback hits, with 11 in 2020. Coming up big in the playoffs, the former number one ranked high school recruit also recorded 1.5 sacks in Green Bay’s wild-card victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Earning more playing time in 2021 with his strong play down the stretch, look for Gary to challenge Preston Smith for the number two outside linebacker spot in Joe Barry’s defense. Tying for 58th in pass-rushing productivity according to Pro Football Focus, Gary’s effort level has begun to earn the praise of his teammates and coaching staff during traning camp.
Patrick Queen, Baltimore Ravens
A two-year starter with the LSU Tigers during his time in college, Queen amassed 131 tackles with the team, including 17.5 for a loss. Along with this, the 21-year-old was named the CFP National Championship Game Defensive Most Valuable Player after he recorded eight tackles, with a game-high 2.5 for a loss during their victory over the Clemson Tigers.
Showing flashes of his prior brilliance during his rookie year with the Ravens, he was named to the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team. Starting all 16 games in Wink Martindale’s defense, Queen finished third among all first-year defenders with 66 solo stops. Dubbed by many as a project upon his arrival in the NFL, look for the former 28th overall pick to become more comfortable in pass coverage in his second year in Baltimore’s system.
L’Jarius Sneed, Kansas City Chiefs
Becoming a mainstay for the talent-starved Kansas City defense, Sneed appeared in just nine games for Andy Reid’s team in 2020 after he suffered a broken collarbone. Earning a grade of 72.9 according to Pro Football Focus, the fourth-round pick picked burst onto the scene on opening night a year ago after picking off Deshaun Watson while recording two more pass breakups.
Allowing just a 66.6 passer rating when targeted in coverage, he displayed substantial athletic ability with good ball skills. Quiet in upgrading their unit during the offseason, the team lost cornerback Bashaud Breeland to the Minnesota Vikings. Expected to start at the left defensive back spot for Steve Spagnuolo’s group to kick off the 2021 season, Sneed can earn a pro bowl nod with an increased role.
Alex Highsmith, Pittsburgh Steelers
Without Bud Dupree after losing him in free agency to the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers will be looking for someone to fill the vacated right outside linebacker spot opposite all-pro pass rusher TJ Watt. Showing flashes in place of Dupree during his first year in the NFL, the third-round pick had two sacks, 48 tackles, and six quarterback hits in five starts for the franchise.
Needing to improve his get off on the line of scrimmage and as a run defender, look for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte alumn to find himself in plenty of one-on-one opportunities. Joining longtime veterans Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward along one of the most feared units in football, look for Highsmith to make a second-year jump to help Pittsburgh repeat as AFC North champions.
Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
Selecting Higgins in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft after landing Joe Burrow with the first overall pick, the Clemson product only appeared in six games with the LSU quarterback after he tore his ACL in Week 11. Still productive, he hauled in 67 passes for 908 yards and six touchdowns. Furthermore, he averaged over 56.8 yards per game and 8.4 yards per target.
With Burrow back healthy in training camp, the Bengals added to their receiving core after selecting Jamar Chase 5th overall. Parting ways with AJ Green in the offseason, the veteran wideout was on the field for 82.8 percent of the team’s snaps last season. Leaving a significant hole in Brian Callahan’s offense, look for Higgins to excel in 2021 as the final member on our ten NFL players poised to breakout during the 2021-2022 season list.