NFL sophomores ready to take a leap in 2021: JK Dobbins, D’Andre Swift among 2020 rookies ready to fly


The 2020 NFL regular season introduced fans to several promising rookies, but others are late. Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is the perfect example of a player who just needed a little more time. Who are those players who could become household names in 2021 and beyond? Find out below:

An Achilles tendon injury robbed Delpit of his first professional season. Cleveland desperately needed help in the secondary, but the former LSU defensive back couldn’t provide it. His return should be a boost for the Browns defense. With athleticism proving off the charts, the biggest concern with Delpit was his tackling ability. Cleveland, which had some of those problems this season, needs more athleticism from position.

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Dobbins ranked 18th in rushing yards in 2020, but 35th in rushing attempts. Baltimore chooses to deploy a running back per committee focus and that will likely continue. However, Ohio State’s product is likely to become a bell after the release of veteran Mark Ingram’s team. His 6.0 yards per carry were the third-best in the NFL. The Ravens have had a dominant running game since Lamar Jackson arrived.

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Although it was a small sample size, Dotson did very well when put into action. Pittsburgh has more worries on the edge, but it may be necessary to change positions with Matt Feiler changing positions or someone taking over the role left vacant by Maurkice Pouncey. Going into the draft, I was a huge fan of Dotson and he didn’t disappoint. Your star could shine even brighter with a higher workload.

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Lamb is a bit of a stretch to include on this list because he finished the year with 74 receptions and nearly 1,000 receiving yards. However, he was an afterthought as the best rookie catcher because of Justin Jefferson’s game. If Dak Prescott hadn’t been injured, it is highly likely that Lamb’s name would be mentioned in a similar fashion to Jefferson. In the first five games of the season with Prescott, he had two 100-plus-yard receiving games. He had no such games in the last 11 games.

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McKinney was my top-rated safety in last year’s draft, so I’m optimistic, perhaps stubborn, about his potential. The former Alabama defender missed 11 games, but ended the season on a high note with an interception against Dallas. You’d think improving the passing run is a priority for the Giants this offseason, and that just means more turnover opportunities for McKinney.

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Mims missed seven games and didn’t really get a chance to acclimate to the NFL before watching his first game of action. Meanwhile, New York had one of the worst teams in the league and was marred by questions to the quarterback and the head coach. Mims showed big-play potential by accumulating 15.5 receiving yards on 23 receptions. If the Jets can build a stable situation, then the Baylor product could be more successful in 2021.

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Mooney was primarily thought of as a deep threat with his speed and that was certainly true. However, another element of his game could be unlocked with stable quarterback play. It seemed like Tulane’s product was producing a great play-per-game, but that’s not born in statistics. He averaged just 10.3 yards per reception on 61 receptions. If Chicago can determine his quarterback position, it would be reasonable to expect Mooney to take the next step in his development.

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Pittman averaged 7.9 yards per reception during the first four games of the season. He averaged 14.7 yards per reception for the rest of the season. The California native is expected to be Carson Wentz’s primary weapon. That said, he only has one touchdown reception in his career with the Colts. TY Hilton is set to go to free agency, so his departure could create more opportunities.

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Sneed made a few plays for the Kansas City defense during the first three weeks of the season before the 24-year-old suffered an injury. He missed seven games before returning for the end of the regular season and postseason. The Louisiana Tech product recorded a sack against the Bills and Browns in the playoffs after recording three interceptions in the regular season. The Chiefs don’t have cornerbacks with a long-term safe role, so Sneed should capitalize.

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Detroit hired Anthony Lynn, a former running backs coach, to be the offensive coordinator and pulled Duce Staley away from the Eagles. There is every reason to believe they intend to run the ball more often this season and they took one of the first running backs off the board last April: Georgia’s D’Andre Swift. The Lions handled Swift’s workload for most of the season but, when he was healthy, he provided a spark for that offense. The former second-round pick produced 4.6 yards per carry and 7.8 yards per reception, but was easily overshadowed by the outstanding rookie play of Jonathan Taylor and James Robinson throughout the league.



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