5 NFL players who could have their breakout season in 2022

Chicago Bears v Las Vegas Raiders
Chicago Bears v Las Vegas Raiders

Making the leap from college football to the NFL is a challenging task. The size of the players and the speed of the game takes a season or two to get used to. Fans and teams love to project big things for their first-round draft picks, but the reality is that production is more likely to come from players entering their second and third years.

For a player to have a breakout season in the NFL, two things need to work in their favor: situation and opportunity. Rookies have to break the trust barrier that a lot of coaches put in front of them. NFL coaches trust the guys who have been there before. There is something about being a veteran that gives coaches a sense of security. This is part of the reason why you see progress in players heading into year two. They are trusted to take the opportunity in front of them and become impact players.

The reality is this list could be filled with all of the second-year quarterbacks from the 2021 NFL draft. They are all primed to make a leap in year two. Their teams have either given them the keys to the car or surrounded them with enough talent that significant strides should be seen in 2022.

Here are 5 NFL players who could have their breakout season in 2022.


Justin Fields, Quarterback, Chicago Bears

Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears
Minnesota Vikings v Chicago Bears

Chicago has been rightly criticized for not surrounding Justin Fields with enough offensive talent to aid in his NFL development. I think those people are underestimating how terrible of an offensive scheme Fields was in with ex-coach Matt Nagy. The former Bears head coach seemed to be under an Andy Dalton spell, and it was only through injury that he turned to Fields. Once Fields was in control, he refused to play to his strengths, like moving outside the pocket and using the running game to open up the passing game. Enter new head coach Matt Eberflus and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, Aaron Rodgers former quarterback coach in Green Bay. Both seem to be focused on ensuring their offensive system highlights everything that Justin Fields can do. The talent is there for Fields to do incredible things on the field, and now the system is set up for him to succeed.


Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
AFC Wild Card Playoffs - New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills

Gabriel Davis might have already broken out thanks to a four-TD, 201-yard performance in Buffalo's shoot out loss to Kansas City in the NFL playoffs. No one is going to argue that Josh Allen's connection with Stefon Diggs is beyond solid, but Davis has a blend of size, speed and body control that makes him a difficult receiver to defend. The AFC is loaded with top-end quarterback and receiver talent, which means depth is going to be key to making it out of the playoffs. Davis is surrounded with offensive talent and his connection with Allen continues to grow.

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Kwity Paye, Edge Rusher, Indianpolis Colts

Tennessee Titans v Indianapolis Colts
Tennessee Titans v Indianapolis Colts

Talent and opportunity - when both of these collide, you know a player is ready for a breakout season. Kwity Paye is not only a first-round talent who improved greatly as the season went on, but the Colts are stacked on that side of the ball, adding Stephon Gilmore to stars, DeForest Buckner and Darius Leonard, forming one of the best defensive units in the NFL. According to PFF, Paye finished the season as the highest-rated rookie edge player with a 71.3. But what is truly staggering is that ,from weeks 1-8, Paye had eight QB pressures, and in weeks 9-10, he doubled that. Paye is ready to go on the attack and create nightmares for opposing quarterbacks.


Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers
Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers

Javonte Williams remains one of the great NFL mysteries of the 2021 season. It seemed as though every time he was in the game, and given the ball, he was doing something productive for the Broncos. A talented runner and receiver, Williams split the running back job with veteran Melvin Gordon, but now that Russell Wilson is in town and Denver is in win-now mode, the best players on the field will stay on the field. Williams is on the upswing of his career, while Gordon has seen better football days.


Jaycee Horn, CB, Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers Training Camp
Carolina Panthers Training Camp

Jaycee Horn was drafted eighth overall in 2021 and was looked at as a shut-down cornerback coming out of South Carolina. Three games into the season, Horn looked every bit the part, coming away with one interception. He then broke his foot and his promising NFL rookie season was over. Heading into the 2022 season, Panthers fans might have wished they would have spent that eighth pick on one of the quarterbacks, but once Horn hits the field again, he will remind the NFL why he was looked at as an elite cover man.

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Edited by Windy Goodloe
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