Last season, there were quite a few players who showed promise in stretches, but either couldn’t sustain success for a long period or weren’t given many opportunities. Overall, this leaves area for some intriguing breakout candidates during the upcoming NFL season. Without further ado, let’s break into some candidates out to make a name for themselves this season.
- Aaron Jones, RB (Green Bay Packers)
Last season, Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones ran for a stupendous 5.5 yards per carry for the second year in a row. Meanwhile, he also had eight rushing touchdowns, more than the league’s best running back: Ezekiel Elliott. The only problem? Jones had just 133 carries throughout the whole duration of last season. Nonetheless, Jones averaged 5.5 yards per carry, caught 74% of his targets in the passing game, and averaged a rushing touchdown every 16.6 carries (Saquon Barkley averaged one every 23.7 carries, Kareem Hunt averaged one every 25.85 carries, and James Conner averaged one every 17.9). This season, all that needs to happen for Jones to break onto the scenes as one of the league’s premier backs, is simply be given a heavy workload. With pass committed head coach Mike McCarthy gone in Green Bay, Jones just may get his chance to burst into NFL stardom.
2. Tyler Lockett, WR (Seattle Seahawks)
Russel Wilson last season had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 when targeting wideout Tyler Lockett (this stat is taken from 70 such targets last season). That stat alone is absolutely incredible when looking at the season Tyler Lockett had last season. Anytime a wideout catches over 80 percent of their targets in a season with a substantial workload, it points to unfathomable efficiency. Michael Thomas was praised this season for having an unthinkable catch percentage of 85%, however, Lockett also hit the 80 percent mark, catching 81% of his 70 targets. Across the board, Lockett posted career highs with 57 catches, 965 receiving yards, ten receiving touchdowns, and an incredible 16.9 yards per catch. Last season, when Baldwin was out, Lockett struggled to really explode into the elite level as there were no other receiving threats on the team to distract secondaries. Now, with electric rookie and deep threat at wideout in DK Metcalf added to the team and Baldwin retired, Lockett has the opportunity to turn career highs and extreme efficiency into an explosion of production.
3. Matthew Judon, EDGE (Baltimore Ravens)
There’s been an underrated defensive player in Baltimore the past couple seasons… surprise, surprise. Baltimore for a long while has had such a potent defense and particularly, pass rush, that often some players tend to get overlooked in the shadow of greatness. First, Dumervil often was overlooked later in his career when in tandem with edge rusher Terrell Suggs. Now, in the past two seasons, Judon has been an unsung hero in the shadow of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. In the past two seasons, Judon has posted eight sacks and two forced fumbles in 2017 as well as seven sacks and a forced fumble last year. However, Judon was able to post these stats while being in a deep rotation among edge rushers, starting just twelve of sixteen games in 2017 and eight of sixteen games last season. With Suggs and Smith both gone, Judon will be called upon to be Baltimore’s primary sack artist this upcoming season. Don’t be surprised to see Judon crush the double-digit sack mark this upcoming season in Baltimore.
With the 2019-2020 NFL season drawing near, Aaron Jones, Tyler Lockett, and Matthew Judon look to break onto the scene with bountiful opportunity for success. Thank you for reading today’s article at The Sports Wave and let us know in the comments down below, who else deserves to be recognized as a breakout candidate this upcoming NFL season?