The 2021 NFL season had some amazing breakout superstars, and with the 2022 season on the rise, it’s time to take a look at whose highlights could be on rewind for next year.
Being the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft doesn’t always mean you’ll be a star or a bust. For Trevor Lawrence, the potential he had shown in his rookie year gives me a good reason to believe Lawrence will live up to the expectations. Throughout Lawrence’s rookie year, there were a lot of struggles that the Jacksonville Jaguars had to overcome on and off the field. However, heading into free agency, the Jaguars made sure to acquire protection and weapons for a quarterback to have success. Trevor Lawrence’s rookie season may not have had the stats or hype that Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow had. When you are new to the NFL you have to find a feel for things, and Lawrence was just starting to find that rhythm at the end of the 2021 season. Yes, Lawrence may have had some not-so-good stats, but in the first year, rookies will always make mistakes. That is why I am confident that his 12:17 touchdown to interception ratio from his rookie season, will dramatically change going into his second year.
Jerry Jeudy is going into his third NFL season as a Denver Bronco, and there has been some disappointment, but Jeudy still has a lot of potential. With the Denver Broncos obtaining Russell Wilson, I believe this will be a major push in seeing how explosive Jeudy can be. Last season Jeudy missed six games, but only recorded 467 yards, zero touchdowns, and was targeted 56 times with 38 receptions. In his rookie season, he had 856 yards, three touchdowns, and was targeted 113 times with 52 receptions. Now some of the blame can be put on who was throwing the ball, but that still doesn’t make up for the lack of advancement. However, this is why obtaining Wilson could be crucial for Denver, as he is a well-established quarterback who can elevate receivers and how they play. Now we may not see a dramatic improvement, but I still think there will be big changes in the receiving corps.
Rashod Bateman is a wide receiver who I have a lot of confidence in having a breakout second year. In only 12 games played, Bateman put up 515 yards, one touchdown, and had 46 receptions out of 68 targets. To make it even more impressive, four out of the 12 games Bateman received a higher snap percentage were without Lamar Jackson. With the Baltimore Ravens dealing out Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, we can expect to see Rashod Bateman being the number one target for Lamar Jackson. Bateman had a promising rookie year, even with the injuries and Lamar Jackson going down, he still found success and will most likely take a leap going into his second year. Not only do his offseason workout videos show him improving on his speed, but also his route-running which could be quite the game-changer. The Baltimore Ravens will need guys like Rashod Bateman to step up this upcoming season, especially after losing Brown. I have no doubts about Bateman and I fully believe he can become that true number one receiver in Baltimore.
With the announcement of Rob Gronkowski retiring, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady still have another tight end who can make a huge difference. Cameron Brate is back at the top of the depth chart for the Buccaneers, and even with a chip on his shoulder, he can prove why he should remain on the roster. Brate may not have fantastic stats in the years he has played, but he is a reliable target for Tom Brady to have. In the Buccaneers’ 2020 Super Bowl run, he showed up when needed. With Brady’s right-hand man gone, that would hopefully mean more targets and receptions for Brate, as he’ll be competing against the Buccaneers’ new tight ends. Brate does have the edge over the young guys, as he has more experience and has been with this team for quite a bit. They know what they can expect out of Brate, which is why people shouldn’t sleep on him.
Zach Wilson is my number one candidate to have a breakout season, and people might think I’m crazy to pick a New York Jets quarterback, but it’s really simple as to why I picked Zach Wilson. The Jets have done practically everything they could to ensure their potential franchise quarterback has the weapons he needs to succeed. Wilson’s rookie season may not have been exactly what people hoped for, but now he has the tools to be a young successful quarterback. While Wilson did have some issues, having only a 55.6% completion percentage, year two is where we see rookies improving, as they now know what needs to be done, how to make reads, and how their receivers play. Yes, Wilson showed glimpses of “greatness” which is why we shouldn’t call him a bust already, as the Jets have put a supporting cast around him so that he can improve. Now, do I expect Zach Wilson to flat-out take the New York Jets to the Super Bowl? No, but I can see tremendous improvement from Wilson mainly because he now has some experience under his belt and is doing the work in the offseason to be better.