NFL Offseason

Second- and third-year NFL players ready to break out in 2021 – Defense edition:

Once again, we have reached a part of the offseason, where there’s not many transactions or otherwise important moves to analyze around the NFL. So I took the time to put on the tape of players from the 2019 and ’20 drafts and identify which of them are bound to break out this upcoming season.

To avoid subjective interpretation of which players are or are not eligible for making this list anymore, I already stated that they can’t have made a Pro Bowl / All-Pro team so far or are just generally considered one of the top players at their position already, like a Quinnen Williams or Darnell Savage for example. To go along with that, players that have reached double-digit sacks or tackles for loss, or led his team in another major category, are excluded. Oh, and the players that made my list already last year, won’t repeat doing so.

Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates like Antoine Winfield and Jeremy Chinn did not qualify, Derrick Brown may not be in position to rack up big numbers, but he was already dominant for stretches in the middle of that Panthers defense this past season and Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons was too obvious for me, since he was my number two overall prospect a year ago and should be in much better position to make plays, in a more defined role.

Just like the offensive edition, two of the first three players mentioned here were selected in the middle of the first round, but the other six names all went on day two or later.

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NFL Offseason

Second- and third-year NFL players ready to break out in 2021 – Offense edition:

Now that we’re in this sort of dead part of the offseason, where all the main player acquisitions have been processed and all the moves have been analyzed, it was time for me to put on the tape of players from the 2019 and ’20 drafts and identify which of them are bound to break out this upcoming season.

Since that is a subjective definition, I set myself parameters of some statistical milestones and other factors that these players must not have reached yet. So you won’t find anybody who has already made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, quarterbacks are excluded if they have already thrown for 4000 yards or 25 touchdowns in a season and for running backs and receivers, they’re not allowed to have already cracked 1000 yards rushing or receiving respectively and/or double-digit touchdowns. And if somebody is just generally considered one of the top players at their position already, I didn’t mention them either. Plus, you won’t see guys on here that already my list a year ago.

A lot of these lists primarily include first-round picks and a couple of guys that already broke out, but people didn’t really know about before last season. You won’t see any running backs or wide receivers from 2019, because those guys have either broken out already or I had them on my list last year – D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery and others. As far as last year’s rookie class goes, Joe Burrow to me has already shown the ability to be a franchise quarterback, other than Henry Ruggs III and Jalen Reagor, all the other receivers that went in the first round last year were at least flirting with the 1000-yard mark, and two of the three offensive tackles drafted in the top 20, that actually played the majority of games as rookies, have established themselves as long-term starters in my opinion (Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs).

So while we start with a high draft pick from 2020, most of the guys on this list went quite a bit later.

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NFL Offseason, NFL Power Rankings, Power Rankings

NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2021:

We have spent a lot of time on analyzing what NFL teams have done this offseason to improve their roster, detailing every single draft pick, discussing the most improved position groups and pointing out the biggest remaining needs for every single squad. Now it’s time to project how these moves will impact the outcome of the 2021 season, in regards to how much the bottom teams have improved and their chances to turn things around.

So here I listed the teams, that just finished fourth in their respective division, and ranked them based on the likelihood of winning it this year. I will describe the team itself, including some of the changes on the roster and coaching staff, talk about the challenges they will face inside their division and take a look at the schedule a little bit, in order to determine their chances of hosting a playoff game come next January. I also added a percentage at the very end, that I would give them of doing so.

Let’s get into it:

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NFL Offseason

Biggest remaining needs for each team in the NFC:

The main parts of the NFL offseason are in the books, in terms of player acquisition via free agency, trades and the draft. But while team building is mostly complete, there are still a few needs that need to be addressed, and we’ll run through them team-by-team – starting with the NFC today!

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NFL Offseason

Most improved position groups of the 2021 NFL offseason:

The main parts of the offseason and player acquisition are now over and it’s time to look at who was able to upgrade their roster – on paper at least. In this write-up, we will analyze which teams managed to address a certain position group and really improve it compared to a year ago, through free agency, trades and the draft.

For the purpose of this exercise, we only look at who these squads actually had for the season, but at the same time they don’t get points for getting a player back, that already was on the roster and didn’t miss the majority of the year with injuries. So the Giants running backs aren’t going to make the list, just because Saquon Barkley is coming back, for example.

Let’s dive into it:

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NFL Offseason

Key position battles at 2020 NFL training camp:

We have finally reached NFL training camp and with the agreement between the league and the players association, there is a little more clarity about how the preparation for the 2020 season will look. With such a long time off, the early stages of this will involve a lot of lifting and running, before the players actually go out on the field and compete, but like I have done for several years, I want to look at some of the more interesting battles for starting positions.

Now that preseason has been cancelled, it will only enhance the importance of these competitions and even though I usually have a little bias towards rookies, since I studied them a lot since the Super Bowl ended, this whole situation should actually favor the more seasoned veterans. For this exercise, I tried to avoid a few of the really obvious ones, such as the Bears QB competition that has and will be talked to death by all the major networks, or the Dolphins entire offensive line pretty much, where you can’t point to one specific spot.

With that being said, here at the ten that I will follow the closest:

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NFL Offseason

NFL players in a 2020 make-or-break season:

We have talked a lot about breakout NFL players, most improved position groups and all that kind of stuff. Now I want to shift the focus more towards players, who aren’t in a position where they are locked in as long-time contributors for their respective teams and will be entering a crucial season in their careers.

Those can be young players not living up to their draft status, guys in a contract year wanting to earn another lucrative deal or long-time veterans trying to stick around. I called this a make-or-break season for these players because they aren’t at a point, where people recognize them as some of the best players at their position. So you won’t see necessarily see players on the franchise tag, trying to earn that long-term contract for big money, but rather guys who could also be labelled as draft busts or washed up veterans.

Here is the list:

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NFL Draft, NFL Free Agency, NFL Offseason

Most improved position groups in the NFL for 2020:

As I’ve been working through every NFL roster to point out their biggest remaining need(s) and which players could break out for them in 2020, I wanted to look at this from a different angle. Therefore, I compared the rosters from a year to the ones heading into this upcoming season and tried to figure out who has improved the most at every single position.

For this piece, I am considering top-end play a depth. Players that are simply coming back from injury will be weighed to a smaller degree, but that can obviously vary depending on how much or if that guy actually played for them last season.

With that being said, here is my list:

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