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New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts - Super Bowl XLIV.

Which NFL players will level up in 2022

Breakout seasons are vital for NFL success

Not all NFL players are young. Tom Brady, 44, and Aaron Rodgers, 38, may be the NFC favorites this season. However, football still isn't without youthful talent though. Rookies are expected to contribute early and often. Joe Burrow and Patrick Mahomes won Super Bowls on their first NFL contracts.


Spring renews. Teams are optimistic about the season. Players are excited about their chances of winning it all and want to level up. Whether it’s living up to a draft pedigree, becoming a key starter, or becoming the next big thing. Here are the seven NFL players who will level up in 2022.

CeeDee Lamb catches a pass a game against the San Francisco 49ers.

1. CeeDee Lamb

With Amari Cooper in Cleveland, CeeDee Lamb will be central to the Cowboys' pass attack. Lamb has the skills to be the Cowboys' WR1. He has been good in his first two NFL seasons, catching 74 passes for 935 yards and 5 touchdowns as a rookie and putting up a solid performance last year. Being young with sufficient experience, Lamb is in a favorable position to be Dak Prescott's go-to receiver in the NFL.

Patrick Surtain II with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

2. Patrick Surtain II

Denver's back! Russell Wilson ended a six-year playoff drought for the Seahawks. Randy Gregory offers the defense a threat opposite Bradley Chubb. Patrick Surtain's emergence as an elite cornerback in the NFL might complete this team. The 9th overall choice was a stud in his first year, intercepting four passes and making the PFWA All-Rookie Team. That all seems to be only the beginning for Surtain. Soon, he'll be an All-Pro. Denver passed on QBs Justin Fields and Mac Jones for the elite cornerback. Wilson is an elite quarterback and Patrick Surtain is a shutdown corner. He has great ball skills (14 pass breakups). In Year 2, he'll become a lockdown cover player, which is vital for the Broncos, given the AFC West's strong quarterback play.

A.J. Dillon was a college stud when he played for Boston College.

3. A.J. Dillon

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of the best shot-callers in NFL history. However, Rodgers' receiving corps was downgraded this year, losing Davante Adams. Matt LaFleur will likely rely more on his backfield going into the 2022 season. Dillon led the 2021 Packers in running yards (803) and rushing touchdowns (5). The 6-foot-247-pounder caught 34 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns last season.

Evan Engram with the New York Giants.

4. Evan Engram

Giants fans consider him a bust. Although Evan Engram made the Pro Bowl, major drops and inconsistency plagued him for five years. Engram moved from New York City to Duval County - a typical change-of-scenery breakthrough. The tight end will play for Doug Pederson alongside Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville. Tight end is one of the NFL's slower-developing positions, and Engram should thrive in Jacksonville. At 6 foot 3 and 240 pounds, the former No. 23 overall pick has 4.4 speed. He'll benefit from a fresh start with the Jaguars and will be in the ideal position to level up this coming season.

Wide receiver Marquise Brown.

5. Marquise Brown


Marquise Brown didn't live up to his status in Baltimore. He scored 21 touchdowns in three NFL seasons and topped 1,000 yards last year. The Ravens' run-first offense disenchanted the playmaker. Brown's fit in Lincoln Riley's Oklahoma assault saw him combine effectively with Kyler Murray in 2018. Reunited in Arizona, the two former Sooners can yet again join forces, providing the wideout with the chance to level up in 2022.

Andrew Thomas when he was still with the Bulldogs.

6. Andrew Thomas

According to Pro Football Focus, the 2020 NFL draft No. 4 overall pick allowed ten sacks and 57 pressures as a rookie. In 2021, he allowed two sacks and 18 pressures. He'll thrive under the new Giants regime. Brian Daboll is an offensive genius who has assembled a great coaching staff. He'll maximize the young left tackle. Under Daboll's guidance, Thomas will become a competent blind-side starter in the NFL.

Gabriel Davis with the Buffalo Bills.

7. Gabriel Davis

Davis caught eight passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a loss to the Chiefs. His 18 touchdowns in 37 career games prove he's legit (including in the playoffs). Davis is a big deep threat with great hands. His quarterback loves him. Josh Allen described Davis very favorably

"[He's] ultra-positive and amazing"

Being increasingly experienced, the football world and fantasy fans will love Davis when his numbers soar this autumn.

Edited by
Nicolaas Ackermann
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