Predicting Every NFL Team's 2020 Breakout Player

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IIMarch 24, 2020

Predicting Every NFL Team's 2020 Breakout Player

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    The NFL is a league of constant change, and there are many under-the-radar players who could break onto the national stage in 2020.

    Most breakout candidates have the same criteria. They're typically younger players, likely on their rookie contracts, who have yet to scratch the surface of their potential. Some will have much larger roles on their teams next season after players departed—or at least have a chance to be more comfortable in their systems.

    Every team has a player like that. Veterans regress and fade away, while younger players develop and become contributors.

    Some teams may have more than one breakout candidate, but let's take a look at one from each squad who could have a much bigger impact in the upcoming campaign.

          

Arizona Cardinals: Hakeem Butler

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    The Arizona Cardinals are going to be stacked at wide receiver next season, but one player who has the opportunity to carve out a larger role than expected is second-year wideout Hakeem Butler.

    Although he was just a fourth-round pick, Butler turned plenty of heads given his size (6'5", 227 lbs) and his production at Iowa State. He finished his final season with the Cyclones with 1,318 receiving yards, nine touchdowns and an absurd 22 yards per catch.

    Butler was expected to get an opportunity to make plays with No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray last season. However, a season-ending hand injury ended his rookie campaign before it even began. 

    Even with the Cardinals' trade for DeAndre Hopkins, Butler will have opportunities to see the field given his size and his athleticism, especially in the red zone. If he has a strong training camp—when they are able to take place—and gets some regular-season snaps early, he could be poised for a breakout year.      

Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Oliver

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    The Atlanta Falcons defense has taken some significant steps back over the past couple of years, but head coach Dan Quinn is hoping that developing young players like cornerback Isaiah Oliver can turn that around.

    After being selected No. 58 overall in the 2018 draft, Oliver has experienced some significant growing pains. The former Colorado defensive back eventually found some comfort in Quinn's defense, finishing 2019 with 62 total tackles, 11 pass deflections and a forced fumble.

    Oliver seemed like the perfect scheme fit for Quinn's system, which relies heavily on Cover 3 concepts. He had great measurables for a DB, coming in at 6'0" with 33½-inch arms and a wingspan of over 80 inches.

    Like a lot of young cornerbacks, it's taken Oliver some time to get comfortable at the pro level. He now has the chance to be a top corner for Atlanta after Desmond Trufant signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency.

Baltimore Ravens: Jaylon Ferguson

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    Premium pass-rushers have come and gone in Baltimore the past few seasons. Now, Jaylon Ferguson has the opportunity to be the next terror on the edge.

    The Ravens linebacker is the FBS record holder with 45 career sacks for Louisiana Tech. Even though Ferguson played at a smaller program, that production along with his 6'5", 275-pound frame led Baltimore to take him in the third round of the 2019 draft.

    Playing behind the likes of Matthew Judon and Pernell McPhee limited Ferguson's playing time as a rookie, but he still picked up 2.5 sacks in 14 games. McPhee is a free agent and has yet to re-sign with Baltimore, which could give Ferguson a much bigger role in his second year.

    The Ravens defense has a lot of talent, but with a full year under his belt, Ferguson should become a much more productive player in 2020.            

Buffalo Bills: Devin Singletary

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    The Buffalo Bills have reloaded their offense the past couple of seasons, and everything is in place for Devin Singletary to have a big sophomore year.

    At just 5'7" and 203 pounds, Singletary showed that size isn't everything for a running back. He finished 2019 with 775 rushing yards and two touchdowns, averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per carry. In the passing game, he added another 194 yards and two scores.

    That production was in just 12 games while he played behind established veteran Frank Gore. Although Gore doesn't plan to retire, it's uncertain if he will return to Buffalo given that he's an unrestricted free agent, and the Bills seem to have enough depth in the backfield with Singletary and T.J. Yeldon.

    Singletary should be the go-to guy moving forward.            

Carolina Panthers: Teddy Bridgewater

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    So much has been changing for the Carolina Panthers this offseason that it's hard to find a legitimate breakout candidate. With quarterback Teddy Bridgewater now heading to Charlotte, he might be in the best possible spot to resurrect his career.

    He has been trying to become a franchise quarterback again after a gruesome knee injury cut short a promising start to his career before the 2016 season.

    His path back has been a long one, but he proved that he was capable of playing at a high level while replacing an injured Drew Brees in New Orleans last season. Appearing in nine games and going 5-0 as a starter, Bridgewater completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,384 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions.

    This month, the Panthers signed him to a three-year, $63 million deal and gave Cam Newton permission to seek a trade. It's a risk for Carolina, but with talented weapons like Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore, Bridgewater has the opportunity to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player for the first time since 2015.        

Chicago Bears: Anthony Miller

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    Anthony Miller's career with the Chicago Bears is off to a decent start, but this upcoming season is the perfect opportunity for him to solidify himself as one of the league's more dominant receivers.

    The 25-year-old Memphis product had a strong rookie campaign with seven receiving touchdowns. His end-zone production dropped in 2019, but he recorded 52 receptions for 656 yards and two scores and had a 61.2 percent catch rate. He also saw an uptick in his role and was targeted 31 more times.

    The dip in touchdowns is attributed largely to the volatility at the quarterback position. Mitchell Trubisky was inconsistent and struggled to stay healthy and finish games. His replacement, Chase Daniel, played at a decent level but not well enough to elevate players like Miller.

    This will be a make-or-break year for Trubisky and head coach Matt Nagy. If the Bears offense can finally start producing, Miller will be in line for a breakout year given his increase in targets last season.                     

Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross III

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    We've been waiting for John Ross III's blazing speed to finally translate into him becoming an explosive playmaker. If he can stay healthy, 2020 might be the year we see him do just that.

    Ross stole the national spotlight at the 2017 scouting combine by breaking the 40-yard dash record, running it in 4.22 seconds. Ross rarely saw the field outside of red-zone opportunities in his first two seasons, but he made the most of them in 2018, hauling in seven touchdowns.

    When Zac Taylor took over as head coach last year, Ross saw a much larger role in the offense early. He had a dominant two first games, catching 11 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, he didn't see the end zone after that stretch, and he missed all of October and November because of a broken collarbone.

    Between Andy Dalton, Ryan Finley and Alex Erickson, the play at quarterback wasn't great, but that should change in 2020, with the Bengals all but guaranteed to draft Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. If Burrow and the fourth-year wideout can get on the same page early, Ross could finally have a big season.        

Cleveland Browns: Greedy Williams

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    Expectations were sky-high for the Cleveland Browns before the start of last season, but everything fell apart quickly on both sides of the ball. The team will need to focus on mental toughness, especially with young players like Greedy Williams trying to develop their games.

    The 22-year-old landed in Cleveland with the No. 46 overall selection in 2019 as a highly respected prospect out of LSU. Williams was still trying to find his footing last year, but he allowed just an 84.9 passer rating when targeted as a rookie despite recording just two pass deflections and not a single interception. A hamstring injury also kept him out for four games.

    This year, he'll have additional secondary help to take some pressure off him after the Browns signed both Karl Joseph and Kevin Johnson.

    The former LSU defensive back has the size (6'2", 185 lbs) and speed (4.37 40-yard dash) to be a reliable long-term option for the Browns. It's just a matter of him having the right coaching and talent around him, which he might have after the aforementioned signings and the hire of head coach Kevin Stefanski and former 49ers defensive backs coach Joe Woods, who will take over as defensive coordinator.     

Dallas Cowboys: Chidobe Awuzie

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    The Dallas Cowboys defense—and the roster in general—could look a lot different in 2020. One returning player who could become a new leader is cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.

    Awuzie has slowly become a more productive defensive back over his first three seasons. In 2019, he racked up 79 tackles, 14 pass deflections and an interception. Quarterbacks posted a modest 89.1 passer rating when targeting him. 

    Byron Jones has already departed for the Miami Dolphins in free agency, and it appears it'll be up to Awuzie to step into a role as a top corner.      

Denver Broncos: Drew Lock

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    Of all of the young quarterbacks mentioned on this list, Drew Lock is in the best spot to have the biggest glow-up of the 2020 season.

    General manager John Elway was not shy about his love of Lock as a prospect heading into the 2019 draft, and he landed the former Missouri star in the second round. Although he didn't step onto the field until December, Lock turned plenty of heads in just five games. Not only did the Broncos go 4-1 in those contests, but Lock also finished with a 89.7 passer rating with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

    Elway has already said Lock will start in 2020, which should give him peace of mind to keep working on his craft while knowing his job is secure. A full season as the starter should mean big numbers, especially with weapons like Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and the newly acquired Melvin Gordon.    

Detroit Lions: T.J. Hockenson

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    It's rare to see a tight end go in the top 10 of any draft, which makes T.J. Hockenson's rookie season with the Detroit Lions that much bigger of a disappointment. However, Hockenson could have a much bigger impact in 2020.

    He only played in 12 games this past season, catching 32 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns. Despite being a nasty run-blocker at Iowa, Hockenson wasn't nearly as ferocious against NFL talent, struggling with the athleticism of defenders.

    Injuries at quarterback didn't help his development either, but things should be a lot different next season. Matthew Stafford—who only played eight games in 2019—will likely start the year fully healthy, and the Lions could make a big move and draft a quarterback with their No. 3 overall pick.  

    Consistency at QB and a clean bill of health could be what Hockenson needs to bounce back.      

Green Bay Packers: Darnell Savage

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    The Green Bay Packers had a lot of faith in Maryland safety Darnell Savage, trading up to take him in the first round of the 2019 draft. While he didn't gain a lot of national attention as a rookie, he has a great chance to take the league by storm in 2020.

    In 14 games last season, the No. 21 overall pick racked up 55 total tackles, five pass deflections, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. That may seem like modest production, but Savage spent most of the year getting comfortable in Mike Pettine's defensive scheme, and a sprained ankle hindered that development.

    A full offseason with the Packers' playbook will do Savage a lot of good. It also helps that he has plenty of talent around him to take some pressure, from a duo of premiere pass-rushers in Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith to a strong No. 1 cornerback in Jaire Alexander.

    Savage stood out in college due to his strong instincts and top-tier closing speed. If he can get more comfortable in the Packers' defense, he should have a much better time trusting those instincts and making more big plays.

Houston Texans: Lonnie Johnson Jr.

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    Houston Texans head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien has made some questionable moves as of late. However, one move that might pay off is second-year cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr., the Texans' second-round pick from last year's draft.

    Johnson was a work in progress when the Texans drafted him out of Kentucky. At 6'2" and 213 pounds, he was highly touted due to his size and overall athletic ability, even if he was still working on his technique and ball skills.

    Johnson's rookie season was a learning experience. He gave up an 111.6 passer rating when targeted and allowed four touchdown passes, per Pro Football Reference

    A full offseason should do Johnson a lot of good, and he'll also have some help with a healthy J.J. Watt wreaking havoc in the backfield. If he can keep working on his technique, Johnson should become a much more reliable player for Houston's defense.

Indianapolis Colts: Kemoko Turay

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    The Indianapolis Colts made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason by trading their first-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. He should be a huge boost to the defense, and one that should help younger players like Kemoko Turay.

    Used mostly in pass-rushing situations, Turay has been disruptive in his first two seasons. After finishing second on the team in quarterback pressures as a rookie, Turay had 1.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble in only four games last year.

    Just as Turay was starting to heat up, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was a tough loss for the Colts defense, but he'll hopefully be fully healthy for the 2020 season.

    If Turay is ready to go, his job will be far easier with Buckner taking a lot of the focus off of him in the middle of the defensive line. With those two and playmakers like Darius Leonard and Malik Hooker, the Colts have a chance to field one of the more formidable defenses in the league.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Ronnie Harrison

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    Alabama head coach Nick Saban has a knack for producing strong NFL prospects at just about any position, but particularly with defensive backs. Jacksonville Jaguars safety Ronnie Harrison has been solid so far, but he could be in line for a much bigger role in 2020.

    Harrison will be turning only 23 in April and is already developing quickly. The 2018 third-round pick has been an established starter for two seasons and finished last year with 71 total tackles, two interceptions, two sacks and nine pass deflections.

    Harrison can fill a stat sheet largely thanks to his defensive versatility. Even at Alabama, he was stout against the run while also being able to play deep in coverage. His 6'3", 207-pound frame makes him a versatile weapon who can move around and take on different matchups against opposing offenses' key playmakers.

    Now that he's entering his third season, Harrison should emerge as a leader on a Jaguars defense that's undergone a significant identity change the past few years. Given his skill set, Harrison should be able to stuff the stat sheet even more than he did last year. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Mecole Hardman

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    It's hard to call anyone on a team that just won the Super Bowl a breakout candidate, let alone a Pro Bowler like Mecole Hardman. However, the 22-year-old has the chance to build on his rookie season and become one of the league's most explosive playmakers.

    Hardman's speed was on display before he ever touched an NFL field, as he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds at the combine. As a rookie, he averaged an absurd 20.7 yards per catch while hauling in 26 catches for 538 yards and six touchdowns. He also added an electric 104-yard kickoff-return touchdown, the longest play of the season.

    Hardman's workload is bound to soar in 2020 given his big-play ability. He had only 30 offensive touches during the regular season, which isn't nearly enough for a player with his kind of explosiveness.

    Patrick Mahomes will be targeting the likes of Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce as well, which could limit Hardman's workload. But considering how electric he is in the open field, Hardman is could be in line for a huge year with the defending Super Bowl champions.

Las Vegas Raiders: Clelin Ferrell

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    Although the Las Vegas Raiders selected him with the No. 4 overall pick in 2019, pass-rusher Clelin Ferrell wasn't even the most impressive rookie on his own team last year. That should give the 22-year-old some extra motivation as he heads into his sophomore season in a new city but with the same team.

    Ferrell racked up 38 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and five pass deflections in 15 games, so he didn't have a terrible season by any means. However, it didn't live up to the hype that comes with being a top-five pick.

    Ferrell was expected to be somewhat of a project out of college, but his measurables made him too tempting for general manager Mike Mayock to pass up. He was listed at 6'4" and 264 pounds with 34⅛" arms at the combine, giving him the ideal frame for a defensive end with more room to grow.

    Although fellow rookie Maxx Crosby overshadowed Ferrell last year with a 10-sack season, his presence should take a lot of pressure off Ferrell, which can only mean good things for the former Clemson star going forward.

Los Angeles Chargers: Jerry Tillery

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    Former Notre Dame defensive lineman Jerry Tillery was supposed to be a dominating force as a rookie, but that never came to fruition. Now, the Los Angeles Chargers are hoping Tillery can start playing up to his potential.

    The Chargers picked Tillery with the 28th selection in the 2019 draft after he underwent shoulder surgery in March. Tillery was ready by the time the regular season came around, but the injury and recovery seemed to impact his play.

    Tillery finished the season without having secured a starting role, logging just 17 tackles and two sacks. In fact, Tillery played 36.3 percent of snaps, showing he struggled to get comfortable with the defense.

    A return to full health and a complete offseason to get acclimated is probably exactly what Tillery needs. If he is ready to go, 2020 should be a much different year.

Los Angeles Rams: Darrell Henderson Jr.

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    The Los Angeles Rams made headlines last week by releasing two-time All-Pro running back Todd Gurley II. While the move was surely a difficult one, it was necessary because of his expensive contract and injury history.

    Some fans may be saddened to see Gurley leave, but the release did create an opportunity for the other running backs on the roster, most notably Darrell Henderson Jr.

    Henderson was a home run threat in college at Memphis, averaging an absurd 8.9 yards per carry in each of his last two seasons. He finished 2018 with some big numbers, rushing for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns.

    Though Henderson's workload was limited last season and his production was minimal, he will be more familiar with Sean McVay's run schemes next season. Maybe more importantly, he will also have an increased workload—meaning more opportunities to break big plays.

Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins

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    Expected to be the worst team in football last year, the Miami Dolphins showed some resiliency with a lot of young players and a new head coach. Now, with newly acquired free agents and a new quarterback likely coming via the draft, players such as Christian Wilkins will have a chance to come into their own.

    As the team's first-round pick in 2019, Wilkins was expected to have a big impact on the defense. But with a lack of support, Wilkins could only do so much. He finished with 56 tackles and two sacks.

    Luckily for the two-time national champion at Clemson, he will have some much-needed help on defense in 2020. The Dolphins have been more than aggressive in free agency, adding Shaq Lawson, Kyle Van Noy and Byron Jones.

    Next season's version of the Dolphins is going to look a lot different than last year's version, and that means only good things for Wilkins and others who are ready to take the next step.

Minnesota Vikings: Mike Boone

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    Even though Mike Boone is behind Dalvin Cook on the Minnesota Vikings depth chart, he'll have an opportunity to carve out a much larger role in the backfield.

    Entering his third season with the Vikings, Boone saw limited action in 2019 but made the most of his touches. He carried the ball just 49 times but ran for 273 yards and three touchdowns, averaging an impressive 5.6 yards per carry.

    Boone had his breakout game at the end of the season against the Chicago Bears. He went off for 148 yards and a touchdown on only 17 carries.

    The Vikings seem to think highly of Boone, because they reportedly turned down a trade offer for him at the deadline. That indicates that though Boone may not be the starter, he will have a chance to get more touches to take some of the workload off of Cook and Alexander Mattison.

New England Patriots: N'Keal Harry

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    An era ended in New England with the departure of Tom Brady, and now the Patriots need to find a way to reinvent their offense around their next quarterback. Players such as N'Keal Harry, whom the Patriots have already used significant resources on, will need to help that next signal-caller hit the ground running if they want to keep winning games.

    Harry was New England's first-round pick last year but struggled after being placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He played just seven games, catching only 12 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

    The 22-year-old hasn't developed as fans hoped. However, even Brady has high expectations for Harry next season. Outside of Julian Edelman, there aren't any guarantees at the wide receiver position on the depth chart, which will give Harry the opportunity to carve out a role.

    For Harry's sake, the Patriots must find a competent quarterback. If they do, Harry will be in line for a much better season.

New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport

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    The New Orleans Saints invested a significant amount of draft capital on pass-rusher Marcus Davenport, and 2020 could be the year that they get a big return on that investment.

    In the 2018 draft, the Saints traded up from No. 27 to No. 14 to draft Davenport, giving the Packers their 2019 first-round pick along with a fifth-round pick in that year's draft. Though he has missed six games in his first two seasons, he still racked up 10.5 and four forced fumbles.

    But even six sacks and three forced fumbles last year didn't feel like enough for Davenport given the trade and his draft status. While Cameron Jordan continues to play at an All-Pro level to take some pressure off Davenport, the youngster could stand to increase his productivity.

    That's not to say Davenport hasn't developed into a reliable player, but an even stronger season could make him a Pro Bowl contender.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones

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    Given how early he was drafted and the market he plays in, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has already attracted plenty of national attention. However, 2020 is Jones' chance to earn everyone's unwavering respect.

    Jones started last season as Eli Manning's backup, but as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2019 draft, there was too much heat from the media to keep him riding the pine for long. He played decently, even if he was inconsistent, throwing for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

    A lot of Jones' struggles can be attributed to the league's steep learning curve, but a plethora of absences among his skill players certainly stunted his development. A healthy Saquon Barkley and a full season from Golden Tate could do Jones wonders.

    The Giants are likely to keep investing in their offensive line this offseason, and if their weapons can stay healthy, Jones could make a big jump and start living up to his draft status.

New York Jets: Sam Darnold

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    Sam Darnold hasn't lived up to the status of being the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft. However, he may show this year he's capable of being a franchise quarterback.

    The former USC Trojan notched a slight uptick in his production last year, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 3,024 yards and 19 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. However, he has been constantly under pressure, which has hurt his ability to be more successful. He's been sacked 63 times in 26 games.

    Because of that, the Jets invested heavily in their offensive line, signing tackle George Fant and center Connor McGovern in free agency. They also have some draft capital with four picks in the first three rounds, which should give them some chances to draft offensive playmakers.

    This will be a prove-it year for Darnold, and with all the changes the Jets have made, it might finally be his time to shine.

Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett

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    Heading into the 2017 draft, Derek Barnett was considered one of the top pass-rushers behind Myles Garrett. While Barnett's career hasn't lived up to that hype, he could turn things around in 2020.

    In 14 games last season, Barnett set a career high with 6.5 sacks, adding 30 tackles and two forced fumbles. But Barnett has missed 13 games in his first three seasons and has just 14 career sacks.

    The good news for Barnett is that his health seems to be trending in the right direction; he missed just two games last season after missing 10 in 2018. More time on the field led to significantly more production, which shouldn't surprise anyone who watched Barnett play in college for Tennessee.

    If he can stay healthy, and the Eagles can add some more talent to the defense this offseason, Barnett will have the chance to be one of the premiere pass-rushers in the league.

Pittsburgh Steelers: James Washington

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    Former Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington was drafted to be a big-play threat for the Pittsburgh Steelers. While that hasn't panned out, this could be the year that Washington finds that role.

    After a quiet rookie season, Washington was targeted heavily in 2019—but he had modest production at best. On his 80 targets, he finished with just 44 receptions for 735 yards and three touchdowns.

    However, a big reason for that lack of production was the tumultuous quarterback situation. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges spent most of the year playing behind center after future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2.

    A healthy Roethlisberger, who loves to look for opportunities downfield, is just what Washington needs to have a breakout season.

San Francisco 49ers: Jullian Taylor

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    Jullian Taylor is far from a household name for most football fans, but given how things have unfolded in San Francisco this offseason, he has a chance to become a contributor next season.

    A seventh-round pick in 2018, Taylor has played minimally, and an elbow injury and a torn ACL ended his 2019 season.

    But with DeForest Buckner traded to the Colts, Taylor will have a much better opportunity to see the field. He has an athletic build for an interior defender, measuring 6'5" and 280 pounds, and in limited snaps has shown an ability to operate as a solid run defender.

    Taylor may not be the dominant lineman Buckner was, but he won't have to be with Arik Armstead and Nick Bosa around. If he is healthy, Taylor could become a reliable member of the 53-man roster.

Seattle Seahawks: Will Dissly

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    Tight end is going to be a competitive position for the Seattle Seahawks during training camp. Even with a handful of players competing for snaps, Will Dissly is an exciting contender for the starting role, and he could put up some big numbers with Russell Wilson throwing him the ball.

    Dissly was a fantasy darling early in the 2019 season. He played only six games before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury but still caught 23 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns. Injuries have been a part of Dissly's career, though, as he has missed 22 contests in his first two seasons.

    Assuming he can come back healthy, Dissly will face some stiff competition in Jacob Hollister and the newly-acquired Greg Olsen also on the depth chart. However, Dissly's production when healthy should make him a favorite to start if not get significant playing time in his third year.

    There are a couple of hurdles in the way, but if Dissly can clear them, he will be in line to have a strong season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard

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    Fantasy football owners who've been burned by O.J. Howard may not want to hear that this may finally be the year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end. However, given the team's moves this offseason, Howard may shake off all the criticism and have a breakout season.

    An up-and-down rookie year in 2017 looked like the start of something much more, as Howard caught 26 passes for 432 yards and six touchdowns. But his production has slid, and last year was arguably his worst with 34 catches, 459 yards and just a single touchdown.

    That could change in 2020 since Tampa Bay landed future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. It was a down year for Brady in his final campaign in New England, but even at 43 years old next season, he will have the chance to make plenty of plays given his supporting cast.

    Brady will likely need a safety blanket in the middle of the field in head coach Bruce Arians' vertical passing system, and that could put Howard in the ideal situation to start hitting his stride in his fourth season.

Tennessee Titans: Jeffery Simmons

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    Arguably one of the most talented players in the 2019 draft, Jeffery Simmons has the sky as his limit.

    Simmons was picked 19th by the Tennessee Titans after tearing his ACL during a predraft workout. The rehab from his knee injury kept Simmons out until October, but he played at a high level as soon as he hit the field despite missing an entire offseason.

    In nine games, Simmons finished with 32 tackles and two sacks, but he was better than the box scores showed. His abilities to help contain the run and put pressure on the quarterback make for a rare combination in a 22-year-old.

    Since Jurrell Casey is now with the Broncos, the Titans will rely on Simmons in the trenches. Given his work as a rookie, 2020 could be his year to break out and become a star.

Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice

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    Few young players lately have had a worse string of injury luck than Derrius Guice.

    In college, Guice was one of the most dominant running backs in the nation while at LSU. In his sophomore season, Guice ran for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He added another 1,251 yards and 11 scores the following season.

    Guice's career hasn't taken off yet, though. A torn ACL in the preseason ended his rookie season before it began, and a string of injuries last season forced him to miss 11 more games. His production was outstanding in the five games he did play, however: 245 yards and two scores on 5.8 yards per carry.

    By the time the 2020 season rolls around, Guice should be fully healthy, and if he can stay that way, opposing defenses will have a hard time slowing him down.

       

    Reported signings courtesy of NFL.com's free-agency tracker unless otherwise noted.