Predicting Every NFL Team's 2022 Breakout Player

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2022

Predicting Every NFL Team's 2022 Breakout Player

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    For all of the hype surrounding offseason arrivals on each NFL team, player development and progression are still key pieces of success for a franchise.

    Every year, there are players who have breakout seasons. Sometimes it's a young player who is just coming into his own, like Trevon Diggs, who went from three interceptions in 2020 to a league-leading 11 last season with the Dallas Cowboys.

    Sometimes it's a guy finally finding the right role with the right team. Cordarrelle Patterson embodied that as a versatile weapon for the Atlanta Falcons in 2021 by nearly doubling his most productive season.

    Whether it's due to a new coaching situation, the potential for an expanded role after free agency or someone has just flashed enough potential to take the next step, here's a look at one player from each NFL roster who could enjoy a breakout season in 2022.

Arizona Cardinals: WR Rondale Moore

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    Lon Horwedel/Associated Press

    Christian Kirk wasn't the only winner of free agency when he inked a four-year, $72 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It officially marked the beginning of Rondale Moore SZN in Arizona. 

    Moore's rookie season was marked by inconsistent results. When he posted seven catches for 114 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, it looked like he was going to have an immediate impact. He followed it up with a one-yard performance against the Jaguars. 

    The up-and-down production wasn't Moore's fault. He made the most of his targets by catching 54 of the 64 balls thrown his way for 435 yards. 

    Kirk drew more than 100 targets last season, and A.J. Green saw another 92. Moore should see a huge uptick in volume in 2022, and he has the talent to respond with great production.

Atlanta Falcons: LB Mykal Walker

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    Free agency was not kind to the Atlanta Falcons. Not only did they miss out on Deshaun Watson and lose Russell Gage to a division rival in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they also watched their leading tackler, Foyesade Oluokun, leave for the Jaguars. 

    There might not be an enticing Plan B on the roster for Watson or Gage, but Mykal Walker could have the Oluokun role covered. 

    Walker is entering his third season in the league. He played just 17 percent of the defensive snaps, but he proved to be an asset in pass coverage, which is always a plus for off-ball linebackers in the NFL today. 

    He held opponents to a 77.6 passer rating when targeted and has an interception and five passes defended in his first two seasons. The Falcons should feel comfortable rolling with Walker in their starting lineup and expecting big things from the 24-year-old.

Baltimore Ravens: WR Rashod Bateman

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Considering the expectations for first-round receivers created by the likes of Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and DeVonta Smith, Rashod Bateman's rookie year was a bit of a disappointment. 

    After the Ravens spent the No. 27 pick on him in the 2021 draft, his 46 catches for 515 yards could be considered a disappointment. Really, it serves as a reminder that not everyone experiences the same progression in the NFL. 

    Bateman had several factors working against a great rookie season. First, he suffered a groin injury in training camp that caused him to miss important practice time and the first five games of the season. Then, Lamar Jackson's injury forced the team to go to Tyler Hundley for a large swath of the second half of the season. 

    Now the second-year player out of Minnesota will have a full offseason to get familiar with the offense and build rapport with a healthy Jackson.

Buffalo Bills: WR Gabriel Davis

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    You could argue that Gabriel Davis has already broken out. He certainly made his name known across the league with his eight catches for 201 yards and four touchdowns in the Bills' playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

    This season, he's going to show that wasn't just a one-off performance.

    Davis put up nearly identical statistical seasons in his first two years. He was the Bills' fifth-leading pass-catcher with 35 catches for 549 yards and six touchdowns.

    But two of the wide receivers who had more yards and targets than him were Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders. Neither is on the roster anymore. That makes Davis the clear-cut second option outside of Stefon Diggs.

    With Josh Allen throwing him the football, Davis has the opportunity and ability to go from deep-threat specialist to all-around receiver who can crack 1,000 yards.

Carolina Panthers: Edge Yetur Gross-Matos

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    Brian Westerholt/Associated Press

    Yetur Gross-Matos has been relatively quiet since the Carolina Panthers used a 2020 second-round pick on him. Primarily playing behind Haason Reddick and Brian Burns, he's only notched six sacks across his first two seasons. 

    Expect that number to rise in 2022. 

    The Penn State alum saw an uptick in playing time over his final three games last year and posted 12 tackles, 2.5 sacks and three tackles for loss. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow expressed his excitement about the 24-year-old's future with the team. 

    "But right now, he could play the end spot over the tight end and move inside on passing downs," Snow said in December, per Darin Gantt of the team's website. "He can dominate the tight end physically. But right now, we're playing Haason and Brian. He'll be on our team next year, but who else will remains to be seen."

    With the team allowing Reddick to walk in free agency, it has to believe Gross-Matos is ready to take on a larger role.

Chicago Bears: QB Justin Fields

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Justin Fields' rookie season was a mixed bag. He threw more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (seven) and went 2-8 as the starter. Some of that is on the quarterback. His decision-making needs to improve, and he needs to help his offensive line by getting the ball out quicker.

    He had the 11th-worst completion percentage over expected (minus-three) and the seventh-longest time to throw (2.91), per Next Gen Stats.

    The arrival of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy with new head coach Matt Eberflus should be great news for Fields. Joe Moorhead, who coached Getsy during his time at Akron and later worked with him, told Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic that Fields and Getsy are a "match made in heaven."

    Moorhead said Getsy's offense is an "RPO-based run game that takes advantage of a quarterback's running skill set, combining that with a West Coast system that takes a ton of shots down the field."

    That sounds like something that will maximize Fields' skills while minimizing his weaknesses.

Cincinnati Bengals: Edge Joseph Ossai

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    Alex Menendez/Associated Press

    The Cincinnati Bengals had a ton of money to spend in free agency. They used it to address a variety of needs. One thing they didn't do was spend significant money on another pass-rusher. 

    Trey Hendrickson was obviously a great signing last season, and the team extended Sam Hubbard in 2021. But the non-move also speaks to the organization's confidence in Joseph Ossai, who's coming back from the knee injury that cost him his rookie season. 

    The Bengals utilized their third-round pick to draft Ossai out of Texas. For what it's worth, Ossai sacked Tom Brady and had five pressures in his preseason preview before he suffered the meniscus injury.

    Hubbard and Hendrickson will still be the primary pass-rushers, but Ossai's versatility should help him land a role. He played off-ball linebacker as well as edge defender at Texas and will make an impact now that he's healthy.

Cleveland Browns: S Grant Delpit

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Safety Grant Delpit's career got off to a slow start in Cleveland thanks to a ruptured Achilles tendon before he played a single snap of his rookie season. In Year 2, he essentially split time with Ronnie Harrison Jr. as the team's strong safety, logging 53.5 percent of the defensive snaps. 

    With the Browns not rushing to re-sign Harrison, it's looking like the franchise expects Delpit to take over the role in a more full-time capacity.

    Delpit's greatest strength is his versatility, though. Defensive coordinator Joe Woods has asked him to play all over the formation. He's lined up everywhere from deep safety, the slot or a true linebacker position and flashed playmaking ability wherever he's been.

    He recorded three passes defended, three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Expect all of those numbers to go up as he takes on a bigger role in 2022.

Dallas Cowboys: DT Osa Odighizuwa

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    This isn't saying much given how the position group performed, but Osa Odighizuwa was already the Dallas Cowboys' most disruptive defensive tackle in 2021. 

    As a third-round rookie, he has more sacks (two), pressures (14) and tackles for loss (six) than any of their other interior defenders. They also trusted him with one of the biggest shares of the snap counts (53.5 percent) in a heavy rotation of defensive linemen.

    Changes are coming to the defensive end rotation. The Cowboys lost Randy Gregory in free agency and replaced him with Dante Fowler Jr. However, the defensive tackle situation has remained mostly the same.

    That may change with the draft, but Odighizuwa is going to be expected to build on his promising rookie campaign. That's a good sign that he's going to get an even bigger share of the snaps next season and could post a much more impressive stat line.

Denver Broncos: TE Albert Okwuegbunam

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    There were many winners in the trade that brought Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, but tight end Albert Okwuegbunam should be considered one of the biggest. 

    Not only did the third-year tight end go from having Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock throwing him the ball, but he also watched Noah Fant get dealt to the Seattle Seahawks. That makes him the No. 1 tight end on the roster, and he'll be playing with a quarterback who is going to revitalize the passing game in Denver. 

    The 6'5" 258-pound tight end can run nearly 22 miles per hour based on his 4.49-second 40-yard dash, which made losing Fant a little easier. He averaged 7.4 yards after the catch per reception last season.

    That's roughly two more yards per catch than Gerald Everett, who was Wilson's No. 1 tight end last season in Seattle.

    With an increased workload and a quarterback who is going to be able to hit him in stride, Okwuegbunam is a sleeping giant for both the Broncos and fantasy football managers.

Detroit Lions: Edge Julian Okwara

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    The latest mock draft from the Bleacher Report Scouting Department has the Detroit Lions taking Michigan pass-rusher Aidan Hutchinson (scouting report here). They also re-signed 2021 sack leader Charles Harris to a two-year contract in free agency. 

    It still wouldn't be surprising if Julian Okwara leads the team in sacks in 2022. 

    The 24-year-old only saw 31.7 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Yet he was second on the team in sacks with five. Okwara also proved to be a versatile defender. He also had an interception and only allowed four receptions on nine targets. 

    That's obviously a small sample size, but his playmaking ability is there. Harris was effusive in his praise for his teammate. He told Chris Burke of The Athletic that Okwara's potential has no ceiling and that linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard shares that sentiment. 

    The defense switching to more four-man fronts will make things interesting for the slender Okwara (6'4", 245 lbs), but it's a good bet his explosiveness and athleticism will force the coaches to find the right role for him.

Green Bay Packers: G Jon Runyan

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    Terrance Williams/Associated Press

    In 2021, Jon Runyan went from a reserve to a full-fledged starter. In 2022, he's primed to be an elite guard. 

    Over the second half of the season, the guard had the 10th-best pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. While he allowed 13 pressures in the first half of the season, he cut that to just five in the second, per Jake Morley of 247Sports. 

    Given that two of those pressures were from three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, that's elite-level production.

    With Lucas Patrick and Ben Braden leaving in free agency, the Packers are rightfully all-in on Runyan. That's going to pay off.

Houston Texans: Edge Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

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    Scot Tucker/Associated Press

    Ogbonnia Okoronkwo's potential is much bigger than his one-year, $3.3 million contract might have you believe. 

    He has been a rotational pass-rusher for the Los Angeles Rams over the last three seasons, and he showed off plenty of potential while fighting for snaps against the likes of Von Miller and Leonard Floyd. Ultimately, he played just 22.5 percent of the defensive snaps. 

    He only registered two sacks, but he's been incredibly efficient when he's been on the field. He has 50 career pressures on 376 rushes across his three seasons with the Rams, per Pro Football Focus.

    Now, take that level of pressure and prorate it to the workload he's likely to see on a Houston Texans defense that only had one guy with more than four sacks last season. Okoronkwo could turn out to be one of the best values in all of free agency if he can take the next step.

Indianapolis Colts: Edge Kwity Paye

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    Darryl Webb/Associated Press

    The book on Kwity Paye as a prospect last year was that he had all of the physical tools to become an elite edge-rusher but would need to refine some of the technical aspects of his game. 

    He was the No. 1 edge on Bleacher Report's big board and drew comparisons to Cameron Wake. 

    That played out in his first season with the Indianapolis Colts. He got off to a relatively slow start, but his development over the course of the season should have fans excited for a leap forward in 2022.

    He recorded just four sacks and 16 pressures last season. However, all four of the sacks and 14 of the pressures came from Weeks 9 to 18. He really figured some things out in the second half of the campaign.

    With the Colts trading for Yannick Ngakoue, their pass rush will be a huge asset. Expect Paye to be one of the big reasons why.

Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Trevor Lawrence

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Last year, Trevor Lawrence was the No. 1 prospect on pretty much every draft board and the top quarterback in a position group that accounted for the first three picks and two more first-rounders.

    He was not a franchise savior in Year 1, though. Only Matt Stafford threw as many interceptions (17) as Lawrence last year. The difference is Stafford threw 41 touchdowns and went on to win the Super Bowl. The former Clemson signal-caller had just 12 passing touchdowns, and the Jags will pick No. 1 again in April. 

    This season should be much different for Lawrence. For starters, he's getting to exchange Urban Meyer for Doug Pederson as his head coach. Meyer's NFL tenure lasted 13 games. Pederson once won a Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback. 

    That alone is enough to believe Lawrence can get much closer to living up to the hype in 2022.

    What the Jags did in free agency should help too. You can argue they overpaid for some of these players, but lineman Brandon Scherff, tight end Evan Engram and receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones are going to help elevate the offensive talent level.

Kansas City Chiefs: CB L'Jarius Sneed

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    L'Jarius Sneed has established himself as a starter on the Kansas City Chiefs defense. With the departure of Charvarius Ward in free agency, they will need him progress further. 

    Sneed's prodigious athleticism, which included a 9.55 relative athletic score coming out of Louisiana Tech in 2020, has put him on the field early in his career. His experience and continued development should result in an uptick in production next season. 

    Sneed finished 52nd among all corners graded by PFF in 2021. Rashad Fenton—another Day 3 draft pick for the Chiefs—was ranked sixth in his third season. 

    A similar breakout campaign is on the table for Sneed. He can play both inside and outside, and the Chiefs coaching staff has established it has a knack for maximizing the skills of its defensive backs.

Las Vegas Raiders: LB Divine Deablo

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    John Munson/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders defense will look significantly different in 2022. With Patrick Graham taking over as defensive coordinator, the team will feature a unit that is malleable to the talent it has. 

    One of those talents is Divine Deablo, who is the kind of versatile linebacker that is becoming more common. A former safety, the 6'3" 226-pounder started the final five games of the season and compiled 30 of his 45 tackles in that stretch.

    "So you say 4-3, 3-4, 2-4, 3-3-5, whatever you want to say, I'll say yes," Graham told reporters of his alignment when he took the defensive coordinator job with the Giants last year. "I'm not trying to make a joke of it. We are going to do what's best with what we have in terms of the people, the personnel we have and what we think is best for the game."

    Regardless of what changes Graham brings, Deablo's athleticism and tackling (he only had one missed tackle all season) will demand to be on the field. His strong finish to 2021 forecasts great things in 2022.

Los Angeles Chargers: TE Donald Parham Jr.

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Chargers' signing of Gerald Everett may have thrown some water on the idea of a Donald Parham Jr. breakout, but there's still reason to believe the 6'8", 237-pound tight end can still do so.

    For one, Everett is more of a flex tight end who won't wow anyone with his blocking. Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has already praised Parham's blocking ability and willingness to do the dirty work required of a tight end. 

    Lombardi's offense gives both Everett and Parham plenty of opportunities. The Chargers utilized 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends) 26 percent of the time, which was tied for sixth-most in the league, per Sharp Football Analysis

    The passing game was effective enough out of two-tight end sets that it could go to it more in 2022. The offense had a passer rating of 100.3 with that personnel on the field.

    Parham caught 20 of his 27 targets for 190 yards and three touchdowns in 2021. With Everett replacing Jared Cook, there's an opportunity for Parham to expand his role.

Los Angeles Rams: OT Joe Noteboom

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    In the form of a new three-year, $40 million contract, the Los Angeles Rams have placed a significant wager that Joe Noteboom will have a breakout season.

    That's not a contract the Rams would have handed out if they weren't confident in his ability to take over left tackle. With Andrew Whitworth retiring, Noteboom will have high expectations.

    Based on his performance as a fill-in for Whitworth last season, he's up for the task. He allowed just one sack on 79 pass-blocking snaps, per Sports Info Solutions. Noteboom made five starts and was only charged with three blown blocks.

    Throw in the fact that he only gave up two sacks while starting nine games in 2020, and Noteboom has proved he's ready to be an asset as a starting left tackle.

Miami Dolphins: QB Tua Tagovailoa

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Shortly after new Miami Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel was hired, he called Tua Tagovailoa and let him know that it was his job to "get all of that greatness out" of his new quarterback. 

    The Dolphins focused on putting a better supporting cast around their quarterback, and their two biggest moves of the offseason are game-changers.

    Signing Terron Armstead brings legitimacy to a bad offensive line. Trading five draft picks for Tyreek Hill might not be the most responsible long-term move, but it gives Tagovailoa a legitimate WR1 to pair with an ascending Jaylen Waddle.

    In McDaniel's one year as the offensive coordinator in San Francisco, the offense was 29th in pass attempts yet 12th in yards and 14th in touchdowns. The Dolphins should feel good about his chances of putting Tagovailoa in a position to succeed.

    Armstead and Hill aren't the only new faces that will help Tagovailoa either. The additions of Cedrick Wilson Jr., Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Connor Williams all addressed important needs as well.

Minnesota Vikings: S Camryn Bynum

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    Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

    Camryn Bynum made the most of limited opportunities in his rookie campaign with the Minnesota Vikings.

    The safety out of California started three games, and while an ankle injury knocked him out of the lineup after six snaps in the third start, his first two should have Vikings fans excited. 

    Bynum had 18 tackles, an interception, two passes defended and a sack in Weeks 9 and 10 against the Ravens and Chargers.

    While he was thought of as a cornerback in the predraft process, he clearly has potential as a safety. With Xavier Woods heading to Carolina in free agency, he'll have the opportunity to start across from Harrison Smith on the back end.

New England Patriots: LB Mack Wilson

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots' trade to send Chase Winovich to the Cleveland Browns for linebacker Mack Wilson is the kind of move that is barely a blip on the radar in March but makes a big difference once the season gets rolling. 

    It's also a deal that helps both teams. The Browns needed an edge-rusher to provide depth, and the Patriots are still unsettled at the inside linebacker positions.

    Wilson is an athletic linebacker who fell out of favor with the Browns. However, he showed improvement in his tackling in 2021. After missing 13.7 percent of his tackles in 2019 and 20.4 percent of them in 2020, he cut that number to 2.3 percent in 2021. 

    That's a good sign for his development as he has done a good job in coverage, allowing less than five yards per target over the last two seasons.

    With Dont'a Hightower still unsigned, the Pats have a hole beside Ja'Whaun Bentley. Wilson could take that role and run with it.

New Orleans Saints: TE Adam Trautman

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    It's common for tight ends to take time to develop, as being both a blocker and receiver means the learning curve can be steep. 

    For the New Orleans Saints' Adam Trautman, that progression was always going to be more pronounced coming from FCS school Dayton. But an MCL sprain and a trip to the reserve/COVID list cost him four games last season. 

    His best stretch came in the three games prior to the late-November MCL injury, when he had 14 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. That included a five-catch, 58-yard game against the Eagles. Four of those were contested grabs, and he earned a 90.4 receiving grade from PFF for that Week 11 tilt.

    Once Trautman returned from the injury, he missed a game on the COVID list and saw just three targets. The pre-injury version of Trautman should return next season.

New York Giants: WR Kadarius Toney

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    The New York Giants offense figures to be much better in 2022, and Kadarius Toney could be one of the biggest beneficiaries. 

    The Giants are replacing coordinator Jason Garrett as the primary play-caller with new head coach Brian Daboll, who helped craft a Bills offense that finished in the top 10 in passing in both 2020 and 2021. The hope is that Daboll will be able to help Daniel Jones improve in the way that Buffalo QB Josh Allen has. 

    That could unlock Toney's massive potential. He struggled to carve out a role as a rookie because of a litany of injuries and a couple of trips to the reserve/COVID-19 list. However, he showcased what he can do with the ball in his hands with a 10-catch, 189-yard performance against Dallas.

    He missed seven games last season and had inconsistent usage when he was on the field. With a new offensive staff in place, the hope that Toney can become an elite offensive weapon is renewed.

    There's a reason new general manager Joe Schoen told Jordan Ranaan of ESPN he doesn't think Toney is a "tradable piece."

New York Jets: WR Elijah Moore

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    Justin Rex/Associated Press

    Elijah Moore had a respectable rookie campaign, posting 43 catches for 538 yards and five touchdowns in 11 games. It's not a stretch to say he could double each of those numbers in 2022. 

    The New York Jets' receiver situation was muddled last season. With free-agent addition Corey Davis only playing in nine games because of core muscle surgery, Moore playing in 11 and Braxton Berrios serving a similar role to then-teammate Jamison Crowder, it was a crowded receiver room. 

    With all the injuries and shuffling among the receivers, there were 71 pass plays with the young trio of targets on the field at the same time. Moore had the highest target share (26.7 percent) and yards per route (1.28) of the trio, per Rich Hribar of Sharp Football Analysis

    In other words, Moore was quarterback Zach Wilson's most trusted, effective weapon among the three top returning receivers. Given the explosiveness and skill he showed, that could lead to big things.

Philadelphia Eagles: DT Milton Williams

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    Milton Williams was a unique defensive line prospect in the 2021 draft. At 6'3" and 284 pounds with 31½-inch arms, he's a little stocky to be a traditional defensive end or outside linebacker.

    However, his athletic testing was off the charts. He had a relative athletic score of 9.96. Before factoring in this year's class, he had the seventh-highest score of 1,371 defensive end prospects since 1987, per Pro Football Network's Kent Lee Platte

    Williams carved out a role as a rookie with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing 40.5 percent of the defensive snaps and spending his time as both an interior and edge-rusher. He made his presence felt with two sacks, six tackles for loss, six quarterback hits and two passes defended.

    The biggest thing Williams needed to do was prove he could mesh his frame and skill set as a pro. He did that. With the 31-year-old Fletcher Cox getting older, Williams should bolster the interior pass-rush while providing flexibility on the edge.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Edge Alex Highsmith

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Few franchises have prided themselves in player development like the Pittsburgh Steelers. This year's free-agent spending spree aside, they've focused on drafting well and making the most of their in-house talent. 

    Bud Dupree was a prime example of that, and Alex Highsmith is trending toward becoming the next in the line of good pass-rushers to wear the black and yellow. 

    It took Dupree five seasons in Pittsburgh before he broke through and registered 11.5 sacks while playing 90 percent of the defensive snaps. Highsmith is actually on a faster track. He saw his role grow in his second season, playing 76 percent of the defensive snaps and registering six sacks along with 15 quarterback hits. 

    Playing across from T.J. Watt is both a blessing and a curse for Highsmith. He has the advantage of opposing teams scheming against his teammate but also doesn't get as much credit as he should. He and Watt were tied for the seventh-best run-stop win rate last season, per ESPN Analytics.

    Expect him to get to the quarterback more than 10 times in 2022.

San Francisco 49ers: QB Trey Lance

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    John Hefti/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers might not have found a trade destination for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo yet, but they didn't relinquish multiple first-round picks to move up and draft Trey Lance last year only to perpetually leave him on the sidelines.

    It's surprising the team has yet to move Garoppolo, but that likely has to do with the veteran's shoulder injury. Dianna Russini of ESPN reported it was a concern the Colts had about trading for him. 

    Jim Trotter of NFL Media reported the 49ers stayed out of the Deshaun Watson chase in part because they are happy with Lance. 

    Lance is an athletic quarterback with a strong arm and is getting handed an offense with a Kyle Shanahan-coached run game and that features receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle.

    The potential is there for a massive first season as the starter for Lance.

Seattle Seahawks: Edge Darrell Taylor

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    Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks have made many attempts over the last several seasons to find an elite pass-rusher but haven't had a player with 10 or more sacks since Frank Clark in 2018.

    That streak could end with Darrell Taylor in 2022. 

    The edge defender missed his entire 2020 rookie season with a stress fracture in his shin. In his first season on the field, he showed the Seahawks were on the right track when they took him with a second-round pick. Taylor only played 46 percent of the defensive snaps but was tied for second on the team in sacks with 6.5.

    The addition of Uchenna Nwosu in free agency should help Taylor and give the Seahawks two rising pass-rushers. Nwosu ranked 16th in pass-rush win rate, while Taylor finished 15th, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Edge Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

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    Alex Menendez/Associated Press

    On a team with as many established veterans as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have, it can be difficult for young guys to stand out. Ke'Shawn Vaughn and Tyler Johnson are prime examples of promising players who haven't cracked the win-now lineup. 

    So when head coach Bruce Arians talks about a young player the way he is talking about Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, it's worth taking note.

    "I think he can do both—that's what is great about him," Arians told reporters regarding the second-year defender's ability to play inside and outside linebacker. "He is going to be a premier outside guy as he learns to use his strength more, and not always relying on all that speed. But yeah, I think he is going to be a dominant player outside."

    The organization has already backed up those words, as it has yet to bring back Jason Pierre-Paul. If the Bucs didn't feel like Tryon-Shoyinka was ready to take over JPP's role, they wouldn't let the veteran test the market.

Tennessee Titans: CB Caleb Farley

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    Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press

    Caleb Farley was always going to be one of the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the 2021 draft. 

    Thus far, his career has been on the bust side. In college, his injury history included a torn ACL in 2017 and back surgery during the predraft process. 

    Injuries plagued him once again in 2021. He only played three games and had his season ended by another ACL tear in October. But with the Tennessee Titans releasing Janoris Jenkins, it's clear that Farley will be counted on as the outside corner across from Kristian Fulton.

    Farley was dominant in his time at Virginia Tech. He allowed just 18 receptions on 50 targets for one touchdown to go with four interceptions in his final season with the Hokies, per PFF.  

    The question with Farley isn't talent. It's health. If he can get in the lineup and stay there, he'll deliver.

Washington Commanders: OT Samuel Cosmi

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Sometimes the physicality of the NFL can be a jarring transition for rookie linemen. That wasn't a problem for Samuel Cosmi last year, though.

    The Washington Commanders right tackle looked incredibly comfortable in the run game from the get-go. Even in September, he had the third-highest run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. He moved defenders and created lanes.

    The pass blocking was still a work in progress. He allowed four sacks on 474 snaps, per PFF. But the biggest issue was his health. Cosmi only played nine games because of ankle and hip injuries and a trip to the reserve/COVID-19 list.

    The injuries would be a bigger concern if Cosmi had a long history of them at Texas. He started 34 games for the Longhorns and played in every contest for three seasons before opting out at the end of the 2020 campaign.

    He should remain healthy and continue to improve, offering the Commanders a legitimate bruiser at right tackle.


    Statistics via Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.