There are three wide receivers that I would like to discuss. These three wide receivers are prime breakout candidates for the 2023 NFL season. These are players that I have seen show flashes in the previous seasons but didn’t quite hit their full potential for whatever reasons. There are a lot of players that will have their time in the spotlight but I want to discuss three for now.
Wide Receivers Poised to Break Out in 2023
The first one is George Pickens. He is primed and ready to explode this season. Last season, he showed his big play ability in numerous plays. He showed the willingness and love to block and also showed how incredible his hands are. People also forget that in his last season at Georiga, he suffered an ACL injury that forced him to sit out all of the 2021 season in college.
That injury probably dropped him out of the first round in the draft but it did not stop him from providing the Pittsburgh Steelers with 52 receptions for 801 yards for four receiving touchdowns. Pickens’ 15.4 yards per reception stat is the biggest stat that stands out. He was and will be a big play machine in this offense.
Last season, we saw the change at the quarterback position as well. Mitchell Trubisky started the season as the starter but ended up being passed on to Kenny Pickett. Kenny Pickett didn’t have the best season — it actually wasn’t good at all — but we have seen the growth after the bye week when he began to protect the ball a whole lot better. If he makes a big step this season, then that will also help Pickens progress.
After a few seasons with one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, the Steelers finally fixed that issue through the draft and free agency, which is going to give Pickett and Pickens the needed time to make even more huge plays down the field and targets are going to rise.
The next rising star is Drake London. He is another big play receiver that had a pretty good college career at USC. Posting his best season in his senior year with 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. London also had a good basketball career at USC as well.
Even though the Atlanta Falcons were a run-heavy team, they still made room to feed their number one receiver. Even though he spent most of his first season catching passes from Marcus Mariota, his best production came from Desmond Ridder, when he was given the keys to the Falcons’ offense at the end of the season.
When the offense went from Mariota to Ridder the efficiency for London went up. His yards per reception went up and from the eye test, Ridder got London more involved. They will still be a run-first team but London will receive a lot of targets in this offense and with all of the weapons that are at Ridder’s disposal defenses won’t be able to just focus on London. Bottom line London is in line to have a great season.
The last wide receiver to discuss is Treylon Burks. Now, this breakout might be a little harder to see now because of the recent addition of DeAndre Hopkins. Now history has shown that the Tennesse Titans are the “graveyard” for older elite wide receivers. Is it just a coincidence or is there a little bit of truth behind it?
Before the addition of Hopkins, the hype around Burks was huge. Since the signing, a lot of the hype died down. Let’s not forget that it is Burks’ amazing athleticism that makes him a great wide receiver, the addition of Hopkins means that Burks should be drawing defenses number two cornerbacks which should be a big advantage for Burks.
Let’s also not forget that Burks had some injuries in the month of October that had him on the sideline for six games last season which hopefully won’t be a concern this season. Burks posted 33 receptions for 444 yards and one touchdown isn’t a bad stat line for a rookie in a heavy run-first offense, with only 11 games played.
Quarterback issues/Running Game
It looks like the Titans will be going with Ryan Tannehill to start the season. He seems to be the best choice while they keep developing Will Levis. This is better for Burks as well with him being the most experienced. The running game will still be a focal point of the offense but the carries will go down because of the new addition. Hopkins will get his but Burks’ talent will demand a lot of targets as well.
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