Five Likely Candidates For A Breakout Season
Each and every year, a handful of players take the NFL by storm. Last season, some of those players included the likes of Kansas City Chiefs Running Back Kareem Hunt, Minnesota Vikings Quarterback Case Keenum, and Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Nelson Agular, among others. Here are my top five candidates for a breakout season.
1. Cooper Kupp, Wide Receiver Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp without a doubt had the most success last season than any other player on this list. Kupp finished the season with 62 receptions, for 869 yards, to go along with 5 touchdowns. However, one of the main reasons I feel that Kupp is due for a breakout season can be attributed to a few different factors. First, Wide Receiver Sammy Watkins is no longer a Ram, as he signed a massive free agency deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. This should allow for him to see more targets from an emerging Jared Goff, who played absolutely lights out last season. Building off of that point, Goff and Kupp will both be entering their second year in the Sean McVay system. Not only should this continue their chemistry but should also propel their professional development. Look for Kupp to be in the range of 85 receptions, 1,250 yards, and 8 or 9 touchdowns.
2. Sterling Shepard, Wide Receiver New York Giants
Shepard was included on this list largely because of the addition of Saquon Barkley and the absences of both Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall and Head Coach Ben McAdoo. Shepard entered the league playing great as a rookie, hauling in 65 receptions, for 683 yards, along with 8 touchdowns. However, Shepard took a slight step backwards last year and only had 59 receptions, for 731 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Now that the Giants are able to maintain an effective ground game, this open up some passing lanes for the clear second option in New York. Don’t be surprised if Shepard has nearly 75 catches, for 950 yards, along with 7 or 8 touchdowns.
3. Trent Murphy, Defensive End Buffalo Bills
The only defensive player on this list is Defensive End, Trent Murphy of the Buffalo Bills. Several defensive players were considered for this list, but I feel Murphy will have one of, if not the biggest impact out of all of them. Murphy, who was signed by the Bills this past offseason to a three-year deal, came over from Washington. This change of teams also marks a change of defensive philosophies for Murphy who will transition from Outside Linebacker in a 3-4 defensive front to a Defensive End in Buffalo’s 4-3 defense. Although he will be pushed by Shaq Lawson, the former first round pick, look for Murphy to have a similar impact Jerry Hughes had in his first year in Buffalo. Expect about 45-50 tackles and 9 or 10 sacks from Murphy this season.
4. Joe Mixon, Running Back Cincinnati Bengals
With fellow running back Jeremy Hill now in New England, look for Joe Mixon to take over the primary ball carrying duties in Cincinnati. Mixon, who has immense physical talent, fell to the Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft after a video surfaced showing him striking a woman. With his physical traits, it was no surprise when Mixon put up decent numbers during his rookie campaign. Mixon totaled 178 carries, for 626 yards, along with 6 touchdowns. The running back also showed to be effective in the passing game hauling in 30 receptions, for nearly 300 yards. The Cincinnati Bengals once again have one of the more underrated offenses in the NFL and should be able to capitalize on this if Andy Dalton can be respected in the passing game. It wouldn’t surprise me the least if Mixon finished with over 1,000 yards on the ground, along with 10 or more touchdowns.
5. Jordan Mathews, Wide Receiver New England Patriots
After a disappointing past season in Buffalo, Mathews looks to revitalize his career in New England. Over the course of his first three seasons in Philadelphia, Mathews, had one of the most productive starts to an NFL career in terms of catches and yards. If Mathews can put his injury ridden season behind him, and fall into the good graces of Tom Brady, he should have no problem seeing lots of targets. Mathews will look to separate himself from the other Patriot receivers through his route running ability. If he’s able to do this, and that’s a big if, he could replace Danny Amendola’s numbers and take the first step towards pulling in his yearly averages he had in Philadelphia once again.