The 2020 season plagued a lot of players with injuries. However, we’re due for the next season in a few months. Much like every offseason, the statistics are reset, and every player can have a shot to bounce and make the leap to stardom next season. While injuries aren’t easily forgotten, these three players have a great chance to make the leap to prime status in the 2021 season.
Odell Beckam Jr.
Odell has been hobbled by injuries since his time with the Browns began. While we can’t assume he’ll bounce back to his amazing rookie form, Odell still has a shot at returning back to being an above-average receiver for the Browns offense. Assuming he’ll return to being the WR-1 for Baker, he won’t have to do much for the Browns to win their games. With a dominant “one-two” punch for a backfield, reliable WR-2, and 3 receivers, Odell shouldn’t have to overperform to put the Browns in contention for a playoff spot.
He’d been used to the play-calling in the Giants which had him running long-developing routes and breaking off for a huge YAC, but when he switched teams, the offensive system completely changed. In the 2019 season, it felt like they were force-feeding Odell the ball, and while he got over 1000 yards, the offense never seemed to mesh properly.
Odell had always been a no. 1 target for the Giants and had to play lights out to put his team in a position to succeed. With the Browns, he’ll have to stay healthy during the last few months of the offseason, mesh decently with Baker, and adapt his route-running abilities to the refurbished offense in order to bounce back and regain the respect that everyone saw during his rookie season.
The first-overall pick for the Cincinnati Bengals looked promising until he encountered a season-ending injury. Nevertheless, the LSU star lived up to the hype and is looking like the next franchise quarterback for the Bengals. The big question is, what’s next for the team and Burrow?
After drafting Burrow’s former teammate from LSU, Ja’marr Chase, with the 5th-overall pick, the receiving talent for the Bengals looks threatening. With Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins all starting for the Bengals, Burrow looks like he’s going to have a good year coming into the 2021 season.
The woes of the draft are also currently a developing trend in the fanbase. While some fans were happy to draft Chase, many questioned the draft choice, as the top lineman of the class, Penei Sewell, was still available. The offensive line was one of the eye-opening weak links of the team, but it’s something that the scouts still took into account after drafting Chase. After the first round, the Bengals would dedicate three of their remaining picks to select offensive linemen. Without assuming any injury, Burrow looks primed to have a better year in 2021 and the only thing that could possibly hold him back is coaching.
Coming off a 2018 Rookie of the Year Award, a Pro Bowl, and becoming the only running back in Giants history to rush for over 1000 yards in their first two seasons, Saquon Barkley definitely had a lot to live up to in his third year. After another injury in a year where they just kept coming from all around the league, Barkley’s 2020 season was cut short. However, Barkley could be set up for a comeback in his 2021 season, all thanks to the Giants drafting department.
The Giants would take an offensive tackle in the first round, another one in the third, and a guard in the fifth round of the draft. The other draft picks were heavily invested in helping the defensive side of the team. Much like Odell’s dilemma in the Browns/Giants, Saquon is looking like the only high-level offensive weapon for the Giants too. On top of that, his offensive line seemed to be doing him no favors either. However, with a new offensive line coach, new pieces for the line, and acquisitions for the offense and defense, Saquon will have more breathing room as his responsibilities go down and could be used to fool defenses into letting up. Daniel Jones will also be returning with new targets such as Golladay and many others, which switches the offensive philosophy of the team and, because of this, Saquon doesn’t have to be the only method of attack for the offense.