Who will be the Break Out Stars in the NFL in 2021? We have a look at who will looking to become a household name by the time the 2021 is done.
Brian Burns – Edge – Carolina Panthers
Coming out of Florida State in 2019, Brian Burns was a player I was very high on. Picking up at 16 felt like an absolute steal for the Carolina Panthers. I’d like to think the Raiders wish they could have used their 4th overall pick on Burns, rather than Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell with benefit of hindsight.
Burns stats over his first 2 years in the NFL read favourably. He started 19 of the 31 games in which he has features, racking up 16.5 sacks (7.5 year 1 and 9 year 2), 83 tackles, 4 passes deflected, 4 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown. He also saw his snap percentage jump from 43% in 2019 to 71% in 2020.
Burns will still only be 23 for the entirety of the 2021 season. If the man nicknamed ‘Spidey’ can continue on this upward trajectory, surely double digit sacks is well within his reach. And who knows, he may even be in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year if things go his way.
Montez Sweat – Edge – Washington Football Team
Another edge rusher that should be set for a break out year is Washington’s Montez Sweat. The Football Teams decision to trade back up into the first round in 2019 to snap up the Mississippi edge defender seems a shrewd move.
Sweat has started all 32 games in which he has been eligible for in the regular season. He has also been productive whilst on the field.
With Ryan Kerrigan now plying his trade with divisional rivals Philadelphia, Sweat’s share in the snaps is surely going to increase. Add this to the fact that each member of Washington’s starting defensive line is a 1st rounder, offensive lines may be looking elsewhere, allowing Sweat to feast on 1-vs-1 matchups.
Tee Higgins – WR – Cincinnati Bengals
Tamaurice “Tee” Higgins, out of Clemson, had a solid rookie season in Cincinnati. Starting 14 games, Higgins logged 908 yards on 67 passes hauled in and scored 6 touchdowns – not bad for a rookie wide receiver whose starting quarter back went down early with a season ending injury after 10 games.
With Joe Burrow now firmly back under centre, Tyler Boyd at WR, Joe Mixon in the back field and 1st round selection Ja’Marr Chase in the mix, The Bengals offence should be fun to watch (providing the O-line doesn’t get Burrow killed again!). With defences having to account for multiple skill position players, Higgins could find himself favourable match-ups in a spread style offence. Look for him to improve his stat line in year 2 and become on of the breakout stars in 2021
Jakobi Meyers – WR – New England Patriots
Meyers is now entering his 3rd year in the NFL after going undrafted out of NC state in 2019. Operating mainly out of the slot, Meyers doesn’t have blistering speed. However his route running over the centre of the field and on intermediate route is exemplary. Now enter Mac Jones at QB. Jones loves to throw between numbers and Meyers could see a huge volume of targets this season. If the Jones-Meyers connection clicks, New England could have a potent weapon heading into the 2021 season and beyond