There have been multiple occasions where a player struggled in their first 2 years and then took a huge step up in year 3. Also, there have been times where the player was just solid in their first 2 years and then exploded in year 3. Examples of some big year-3 breakout players; Nelson Agholor, Jaylon Smith, and Derrick Henry. A player should not be given up on after just 2 seasons.
Eagles DE Derek Barnett
Barnett was a 1st-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft. He had a solid rookie season with 6.5 sacks and got a huge strip-sack in the NFC Championship that shifted momentum in the game. Barnett also recovered the fumble forced by Brandon Graham in the Super Bowl which iced the game. He showed many flashes to being a star pass rusher in the future, and the Eagles were hoping he would take a huge leap in year 2. He ended up finishing with 2.5 sacks and his season ended in week 6 to a torn rotator cuff. All eyes are on him now this upcoming season. He is playing next to Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, and Malik Jackson, three very good pass rushers. So opportunities could come his way with the attention be focused on Cox and Graham. There have been some good things said out of training camp, showing he is a really good talent with the ability to have a really big 3rd season.
Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky
Trubisky is a very interesting player. He is a solid NFL QB but was the number 2 pick, picked before 2018 MVP Pat Mahomes, and another young stud in Deshaun Watson. He made the Pro Bowl last season but he only made it due to players dropping out and not taking an invite. He is not the great QB that the Bears wanted him to be after drafting him so high. He has talent, has shown many flashes in his 1st 2 seasons, but has not taken the leap into being a consistent starting QB. He had 6 touchdown passes in a game, and then his next game (after a bye) he struggled vs Miami. He looked a lot better in his second year, but this upcoming season, he needs to show consistency. He has a whole season now with his revamped offense from a year ago. He has built chemistry with his new receivers. With a loaded defense, Trubisky can take a lot of pressure off himself as well. If Trubisky shows consistency this season, he could be looked at as a true franchise QB.
49ers DL Solomon Thomas
Solomon Thomas has been a disappointment for a former number 2 pick. Only 4 career sacks in 2 years? That is not ideal. He has talent but has not shown much in the NFL. With the addition of Dee Ford and Nick Bosa, Thomas is expected to now move into the inside, where many believe he is a better fit. Also with good defensive ends in Bosa and Ford, and a beast defensive tackle in DeForest Buckner, opportunities could come Thomas’ way. With more talent on the line around him, and him playing more inside, Thomas has the tools to have a huge year 3 and avoid the “bust” title.
Chargers WR Mike Williams
Mike Williams is prime to have a huge year this season. He had a very good season last year, with 10 touchdowns and 664 yards while splitting time with Tyrell Williams. Now he is going to be a full-time starting outside receiver, he is a huge red zone threat and has the ability to bring down jump balls. Also with a great quarterback in Phillip Rivers, and alongside other talented weapons like Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen, opportunities are going to come Williams’ way. Already a very good player with potential to be great in 2019, Mike Williams has the talent and potential to be a top notch receiver very soon.
Eagles CB Sidney Jones
Sidney Jones was seen as the top cornerback in the 2017 draft before tearing his Achilles at Washington’s pro-day, so the Eagles snagged him the 2nd round. He sat out almost his entire rookie year, only getting small action in a meaningless Week 17 game. In year 2, he was named the starting nickel cornerback, he had a solid start but then started suffering from a lingering hamstring injury. He has the talent to be a very good starting corner, he was one of the top graded nickel cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus before he hurt his hamstring. He started struggling big time after. Teams had developed a game plan to attack him all game knowing he was not 100%. He had a full offseason to nurse that hamstring and has now entered this offseason as a starting cornerback, this time on the outside. If Jones stays healthy, there is no reason why he can’t have a big year. He got his NFL experience, now he needs to improve on what he struggled with. If he can do that while staying healthy, Jones could be in the making of a great 3rd year.