NFL Players We Can't Wait to See This Season

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2020

NFL Players We Can't Wait to See This Season

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The NFL has quite the special feel to it in 2020. 

    Mostly thanks to the league's most exciting players. Think reigning MVP Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. Or Super Bowl winner Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. 

    Even not-so-household names deserve some credit. New faces in new places, younger talent clearly on the rise and some premier defenders across the league make the NFL can't-miss viewing as an exciting offensive-minded era of football surges onward into a new decade. 

    Here are a few NFL players we can't wait to see in 2020.  

Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    There are plenty of weapons to get excited about going into 2020. 

    And yet few match Marquise Brown. 

    Brown, the 25th pick last year, showed immense potential for the Baltimore Ravens by pairing well with Lamar Jackson en route to 584 yards and seven touchdowns on just 46 catches, averaging 12.7 yards per catch. 

    The electric playmaker with 4.32-second speed in the 40-yard dash should hit on a natural developmental upswing in year two and has added more than 20 pounds after playing at 157 as a rookie. Keep in mind last year he didn't get a ton of work in over the summer before his first NFL season, which blatantly points at a massive upswing

    A rare combination of traits on an explosive offense, Hollywood has breakout written all over him. 

Chase Young, Edge, Washington

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    How fun is it to watch rookie edge-rushers lately? 

    T.J. Watt, Nick Bosa and next up? Chase Young in Washington, of course. 

    One of the most-hyped edge-rushers to enter the draft in a long time, Young racked up 30.5 sacks over mostly two seasons of work at Ohio State, including 16.5 last season alone. 

    Now he's putting on a show at Washington's training camp and in all areas, even taking down a bulldozer like Adrian Peterson on his lonesome

    Part of what makes Young so exciting to watch is how opposing offenses will have to focus elsewhere. Young's transcendent talent would be disruptive on most teams, but offenses have to worry about Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen and DaRon Payne too, likely freeing him up even more for a massive debut season. 

Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    What else is there to say about Patrick Mahomes? 

    A predicted regression for the Kansas City Chiefs star passer in 2019 still resulted in a 65.9 completion percentage with 4,031 yards and 26 touchdowns against five interceptions, never mind his hoisting of a Lombardi Trophy. 

    That was over 14 games as Mahomes dealt with a minor injury. He comes back fully healthy this year, has explosive first-round running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the backfield and could get someone like Tyreek Hill for more than the 12 games he played last season. 

    Add to all that the almost casual no-look passes, his improv abilities and surely strong scheme that head coach Andy Reid will draw up, and the league's best quarterback should again be a must-see player every time he touches the football field. 

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    A reunion between Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski would always register big on the must-see scale. 

    That it happens in Tampa Bay makes it all the more refreshing. 

    Brady alone is worth the look at the Buccaneers. While it's a little scary he's changing teams for the first time in his career at the age of 43, even last year's "down" season saw him complete 60.8 percent of his passes with 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns against eight interceptions with a smooth 80.5 Pro Football Focus grade. 

    Then there's Gronkowski, arguably the greatest tight end of all time fresh off a one-year break. He still boasts 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns in his career at better than 15 yards per catch. 

    The dynamic duo will both benefit from the approach by head coach Bruce Arians. Ditto for the team's other weapons such as Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, creating a combustible situation for the veterans. 

Jamal Adams, S, Seattle Seahawks

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Jamal Adams is just now reaching the apex of his likely developmental curve. 

    But now, one of the NFL's best safeties is free of the slog that is the New York Jets and has joined the Seattle Seahawks, potentially reviving a tradition known as the Legion of Boom. 

    Adams, after all, is one of the most versatile defensive players in the league. Last year over 14 games told the story, as the sixth pick in 2017 put up 75 total tackles, 10 for loss, one interception, two forced fumbles and 6.5 sacks. The effort landed him at an 87.9 in PFF grading. 

    Now Adams is one of the most visible leaders alongside Russell Wilson on a Super Bowl-worthy squad and surrounded by some quality defensive talent. It has the feel of a situation where NFL fans are only just beginning to see what Adams can do. 

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Don't forget about the No. 1 pick from the 2019 draft just yet. 

    Kyler Murray didn't take the league by storm for the Arizona Cardinals last season by any means. But he had a promising showing regardless, completing 64.4 percent of his passes with 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. 

    Murray's going to keep trending upward as the team around him improves too. That's no better illustrated than by the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins via trade—a top-15 wideout with 1,100-plus yards in five of his last six seasons with a high of 1,572. 

    It gets better too. Running back Kenyan Drake should see more than eight games of work (he had 643 yards, eight scores and a 5.2 average over eight last year). Larry Fitzgerald is still aboard, and Andy Isabella should see a leap. 

    While it might be premature to suggest Murray jumps into the upper echelon of passers, things continue to set up nicely for one of the position's more electric players. 

Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    One of the funnier items of the training camp process this summer was the idea Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham stood any chance at all against Cam Newton in a quarterback competition. 

    But that's just Bill Belichick things, right? Newton, a former MVP, is the lock to serve as the New England Patriots' starter this year, something made blatantly clear by camp happenings if it weren't obvious enough at face value. 

    Newton is, after all, one of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers when healthy. Flash back to 2018, his last healthy season, and recall the 67.9 completion percentage with 3,395 yards and 24 touchdowns with another 488 yards and four scores on the ground that slotted him with a solid 70.9 PFF grade. 

    Now transplant Newton into a stable Belichick-led offense with a stable of talented running backs, Julian Edelman and 2019 first-round pick N'Keal Harry. 

    The Newton resurgence is upon the NFL. 

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Who else could round out the list? 

    Lamar Jackson just posted one of the most prolific seasons by a quarterback fans will ever see. Over 15 games, he completed 66.1 percent of his passes with 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns against six interceptions. Tack on another 1,206 yards and seven scores on a 6.9 average as a rusher. Feel free to add on the 91.1 PFF grade. 

    So no, the second unanimous MVP in NFL history wasn't hard to understand. 

    Jackson heads into year three playing for one of the best organizations in sports outright (one example: the Calais Campbell trade) with weapons like Hollywood Brown. He'll likely "regress" in a statistical sense as defenses adjust a bit, but like with Mahomes, it's an eye-of-the-beholder thing. 

    And even if his numbers dip, it seems a guarantee Jackson and the Ravens will compete for a title on the back of his league-altering play.