Every NFL team’s potential breakout player in 2024

USA Today

The NFL offseason program is in the books, where teams have the next month off before training camp. There were some standout players from the offseason, including some who could make significant impacts in 2024.

There are a number of players around the league who are primed to make a leap this season due to their situation and/or opportunity following a busy NFL offseason, which has featured its share of change among NFL rosters.

From Bryce Young to Jameson Williams, our NFL Wire editors identified one player from every team poised for a breakout year in 2024.


Arizona Cardinals: CB Garrett Williams

Dec 3, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Allen Robinson II (11) is tackled after a catch by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Garrett Williams (21) during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals have a few players who could fit the bill. In addition to Williams is second-year receiver Michael Wilson and edge defenders Zaven Collins and BJ OJulari. But Wilson has Marvin Harrison Jr. in front of him, so to truly break out, it will be hard. 

Williams, though, played the second half of last season after recovering from a torn ACL. He played almost exclusively in the slot and held his own on a terrible defense. He has been able to practice on the field all offseason and will at least have the same role and could be one of the two main starters in the Cardinals’ base defense. – Jess Root, Cards Wire

Atlanta Falcons: CB Clark Phillips III

Dec 10, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons cornerback Clark Phillips III (34) breaks up a pass against Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

After letting Jeff Okudah walk in free agency, many expected the Falcons to address the cornerback position through the draft. However, the team didn’t select a single defensive back, signing a platoon of veteran defenders instead. This strategy has opened the door for second-year CB Clark Phillips III to start opposite A.J. Terrell this season. The former Utah standout went from a healthy scratch to starting the final five games in 2023. While Phillips is a bit undersized, he has good technique and impressive athleticism. Falcons head coach Raheem Morris is a former defensive backs coach who should be able to maximize Phillips’ ability this season. – Matt Urben, Falcons Wire

Baltimore Ravens: OLB Odafe Oweh

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Odafe Oweh (99) in the second quarter during an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.The Ravens led 10-9 at halftime.

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The Ravens watched Patrick Queen bet on himself last season and depart for greener pastures in Pittsburgh.  The organization avoided making that mistake with their most naturally talented pass rusher, signing Odafe Oweh to his fifth-year option.  The former Penn State edge rusher can focus on what he does best: rushing the passer.  Baltimore drafted Oweh in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft out of Penn State. He started in 13 games last season and registered five sacks, tied for the most in his career. He also had 23 tackles, 12 quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles.  With the departure of Jadeveon Clowney to the Carolina Panthers in free agency, Oweh could break out and have a double-digit sack season. – Glenn Erby, Ravens Wire

Buffalo Bills: WR Khalil Shakir

Aug 20, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Khalil Shakir (10) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Denver Broncos during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The turnover in the wide receiver room makes this position the obvious pick. However, we have multiple players to choose from. While Buffalo’s top draft pick was Keon Coleman, Shakir gets the nod because of experience. After the departures of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, Shakir shoots up the depth chart and is the only Bills wideout that has caught a pass from quarterback Josh Allen in a regular season game. That gives him a huge edge on everyone else and should lead to Allen starting next season leaning on Shakir. – Nick Wojton, Bills Wire

Carolina Panthers: QB Bryce Young

Aug 18, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) scrambles in front of New York Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari (51) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After an especially flat rookie campaign from Young, the Panthers have seemingly done everything in their power to set up the 2023 No. 1 overall pick for success in 2024. Their reconstruction started at the top, hiring noted quarterback whisperer Dave Canales as their new head coach. They’d proceed to strike at the beginning of the league year—signing over a combined $150 million to new starting guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis, and acquiring former Pro Bowl wideout Diontae Johnson from Pittsburgh. Then, as the cherry on top, they nabbed some promising playmakers in the draft including receiver Xavier Legette, running back Jonathon Brooks and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders. With a much more stable support system in place, it’ll be up to Young to take that next step.  – Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire

Chicago Bears: RT Darnell Wright

Jan 7, 2024; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Chicago Bears offensive tackle Darnell Wright (58) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago has a good deal of young talent who could be headed for a breakout year, but there’s one name that stands above the rest: Second-year right tackle Darnell Wright. The Bears look to have found a franchise right tackle in Wright, who held his own against some of the league’s best pass rushers as a rookie starter. He was the only starter along the offensive line who didn’t miss a single snap last season, starting all 17 games as a rookie. According to Pro Football Focus, Wright allowed six sacks and totaled 11 penalties on the season. Following an encouraging rookie campaign, Wright is certainly a player to watch heading into the 2024 season, especially as he’ll be key to rookie quarterback Caleb Williams’ success. – Alyssa Barbieri, Bears Wire

Cincinnati Bengals: RB Chase Brown

Jan 7, 2024; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Chase Brown (30) returns the kick off against the Cleveland Browns in the second half at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

When the Bengals moved on from Joe Mixon this offseason, 257 carries 64 targets opened up in the offense. Some of that will go to free-agent arrival Zack Moss. But sophomore Chase Brown showed promise last year and would’ve had a bigger role as a rookie were it not for an untimely injury. He still averaged better than four yards per carry and caught 14 of 15 targets in a Jake Browning offense that wasn’t exactly stretching the field. With elite speed and versatility, one year in the system, slot receiver wide open with Tyler Boyd gone and an offense that will go under center more often, Brown could be a massive breakout in a potent offense.  – Chris Roling, Bengals Wire

Cleveland Browns: WR Jerry Jeudy

Sep 25, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (10) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. (31) in the second quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns have a very established roster, so it’s hard to find a breakout candidate among them. So the one new starter who has not lived up to his billing of a former first round pick makes for the obvious candidate. The Browns have shown a great deal of faith in Jeudy already, extending him for three years after acquiring him for just the cost of a fifth and sixth round pick. Revamping their entire offensive staff, including in the hire of offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, a receiver who is in the forefront of every open and separation metric should be a main benefactor. – Cory Kinnan, Browns Wire

Dallas Cowboys: WR Jalen Tolbert

Jan 7, 2024; Landover, Maryland, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert (18) catches a touchdown pass as Washington Commanders cornerback Emmanuel Forbes (13) defends during the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With the Cowboys finally able to escape their ill-advised Michael Gallup extension, there’s a huge need for another receiver to step into the spotlight. CeeDee Lamb is an alpha receiver who lines up all over the field. Brandin Cooks is a burner who scored eight touchdowns last season. Tight end Jake Ferguson broke out in 2023 and is a seam ripper and a Pro Bowler. Now, the third-year receiver from South Alabama is primed to join what is consistently one of the league’s top-performing passing games. After a horrible rookie season, Tolbert saw the lights go on in 2023, but saw few opportunities. He’ll face competition from others (Kavontae Turpin, Jalen Brooks, Ryan Flournoy) but there’s around 60 targets waiting to be claimed.  – K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire

Denver Broncos: WR Marvin Mims

Jan 7, 2024; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. (19) returns a kick against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Marvin Mims provided a huge boost to Denver’s special teams last season, earning a Pro Bowl nod as a return specialist in his first season. Mims was also recognized by the PFWA and earned second-team All-Pro honors after totaling 709 return yards and scoring once on 34 returns. Following the adoption of the NFL’s new kickoff format, Mims is poised to make a big impact as a returner again in 2024, but his contributions won’t end there. Mims averaged 17.1 yards per reception last fall, but he was used sporadically on offense. After trading Jerry Jeudy to the Browns this spring, the Broncos will have more snaps (and targets) available for Mims on offense this fall. The 22-year-old special teams ace could be on the verge of a breakout year as a receiver. – Jon Heath, Broncos Wire

Detroit Lions: WR Jameson Williams

Dec 4, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams (9) warms up prior to his first game for the Lions coming off injury against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

The stage is set for “Jamo” to emerge as one of the NFL’s most explosive receivers in 2024. After an injury-delayed rookie season and a gambling suspension that inhibited Year 2, Williams enters his third season in Detroit free of distractions and ready to fly. He’s the No. 2 wideout now with the departure of vet Josh Reynolds, and his game-breaking speed makes Williams a great weapon. During spring sessions, Williams showed a much better grasp of route running and overall attention to detail. Williams might not be a high-volume receiver and the drop issue isn’t likely to abate, but he could still approach 1,000 receiving yards and threaten double-digit touchdowns. – Jeff Risdon, Lions Wire

Green Bay Packers: DL Devonte Wyatt

Devonte Wyatt is shown during the Green Bay Packers organized team activities (OTA) Tuesday, May 24, 2022 in Green Bay, Wis.

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The 2022 first-round pick had 5.5 sacks during his second season in 2023, but he failed to finish too many sack opportunities and missed too many tackles overall. Can he become a better finisher in 2024? In 2023, Wyatt had 48 pressures but also 15 missed tackles. His disruption numbers could explode in a new scheme in 2024. Jeff Hafley’s 4-3 defensive front will allow Wyatt and others to be more aggressive and stay in attack mode. Don’t be surprised if Wyatt’s first step quickness makes him a terror in the new defensive front. With better finishing, Wyatt could reach 10 or more sacks. – Zach Kruse, Packers Wire

Houston Texans: CB Kamari Lassiter

Nov 4, 2023; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive back Kamari Lassiter (3) breaks up a pass intended for Missouri Tigers wide receiver Luther Burden III (3) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like cheating to put a rookie on the list, but Lassiter was the talk of OTAs. Drafted to compete for reps at the nickel position, the former All-SEC standout at Georgia held his own working first-team reps on the boundary. Everyone saw the pass breakup against Pro Bowl receiver Stefon Diggs, but he’s more than a one-time highlight. Lassiter looked fluid when breaking out of his backpedal and seemed eager to improve after a bad rep. 

DeMeco Ryans said Lassiter is the type of player who doesn’t need to be told to do things twice. Let’s see if a month removed from the practice field doesn’t lead to any regression. If so, Houston might have two cornerstones on the perimeter in coverage. – Cole Thompson, Texans Wire

Indianapolis Colts: CB JuJu Brents

Dec 16, 2023; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts cornerback JuJu Brents (29) celebrates a tackle in the first half against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

With all of the uncertainties at cornerback for the Colts, there may not be a young player on the roster who can have as big of an impact on this team as JuJu Brents if he’s able to breakout in 2024, providing needed stability to the position. Brents dealt with injuries his rookie year, missing offseason programs and part of training camp, which left him playing catchup, while he would also appear in only nine regular season games. However, now fully healthy, Brents has been on the practice field all offseason and able to apply what he’s learning in the meeting rooms–an element that’s vital for any young player. Also contributing to a potential breakout year is the continuity of being in the same defensive system for a second season, along with Brents leaning heavily this offseason on veteran Kenny Moore. – Paul Bretl, Colts Wire

Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Travon Walker

Sep 18, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Travon Walker (44) is blocked by Indianapolis Colts offensive tackle Matt Pryor (69) in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fair to wonder if Walker, Jacksonville’s No. 1 overall selection in 2022, deserves to be on this list after producing 10 sacks during his second pro season, more than his three-season college career total of 9.5 as a multi-positional defensive lineman with Georgia. But five of his sacks came in the Jaguars’ final four games of the year, including two against lowly Carolina in Week 17, signaling a need for improved consistency as a true edge rusher. 

Walker’s arrow is undoubtedly pointing up, though, and the free-agent addition of Arik Armstead to Jacksonville’s defensive line will aid him and star Jaguars’ outside linebacker Josh Allen’s pursuit of quarterbacks moving forward. Armstead’s interior presence should limit opposing offensive lines from being able to double-team the Jags’ edge rushers in any consistent manner. – Zach Goodall, Jaguars Wire

Kansas City Chiefs: RB Louis Rees-Zammit

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – MAY 22: Running back Louis Rees-Zammit #9 of the Kansas City Chiefs participates in OTA Offseason workouts at The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex on May 22, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

No player has been more hyped by the Chiefs during the offseason than Rees-Zammit, who would otherwise be perceived as a long shot to make Kansas City’s roster. A former rugby star, Rees-Zammit has the speed, agility, and hard-nosed running style that scouts look for in running back prospects, but it remains to be seen if he can translate his skill set to the gridiron. As the ultimate boom-or-bust pickup, it seems that Rees-Zammit will be destined for stardom if he puts together a stellar preseason and makes the Chiefs’ 53-man roster as Isiah Pacheco’s backup in his first season in the NFL. – John Dillon, Chiefs Wire

Las Vegas Raiders: WR Tre Tucker

Dec 14, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Tre Tucker (11) celebrates after a turnover against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders have a lot of talent on offense, including Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, and Brock Bowers. But one thing they lack is home-run speed. Enter Tre Tucker. A third-round pick out of Cincinnati in the 2023 NFL Draft, Tucker caught 19 passes for 331 yards and two touchdowns last season. He got open often, but wasn’t always the most reliable option.

But heading into Year 2, the reports out of OTAs and minicamps have been positive for Tucker. He is much more comfortable in the offense and should be the clear-cut No. 3 receiver. Look for the Raiders to find ways to get him the ball this year as he might just be their most explosive playmaker on offense. – Marcus Mosher, Raiders Wire

Los Angeles Chargers: RB J.K. Dobbins

Aug 28, 2021; Landover, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins (27) carries the ball against the Washington Football Team during the first quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers want to run the ball at a high level under Jim Harbaugh, and part of building out the running back room was signing Dobbins. Following a promising rookie season in 2020 when he averaged 5.8 yards per carry and totaled over 800 rushing yards, Dobbins was derailed by injuries, both to his ACL and Achilles. In total, he’s played in just nine games in the last three seasons. At OTAs, Dobbins talked about how he’s healthy and ready to dispel the injury-prone narrative. If he can stay on the field, he will supply the offense with an explosive back, with a skill set that features good elusiveness, vision and pass-catching ability. And at only age 25, he still has plenty of juice in the tank. – Gavino Borquez, Chargers Wire

Los Angeles Rams: DB Quentin Lake

Dec 31, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Los Angeles Rams safety Quentin Lake (37) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Lake didn’t play very much as a rookie in 2022 but he became an important player on defense last season – just not to the point where he was a household name. That could change this year in a secondary that’s undergone a facelift. It’s still unclear where Lake will play in the defensive backfield in 2024, whether it’s as a true safety or in the slot, but he’s going to have an impact no matter what. He’s quick enough to cover slot receivers and smart enough to patrol the deep half or middle of the field as a safety. Given the importance of tackling and awareness at both safety and nickel, Lake should shine in 2024 under new defensive coordinator Chris Shula. – Cameron DaSilva, Rams Wire

Miami Dolphins: CB Cam Smith

Miami Dolphins cornerback Cam Smith (24) grimaces during the fourth quarter of a preseason game at Hard Rock Stadium on Friday, August 11, 2023, in Miami Gardens, FL.

The lack of play time for Smith during his rookie season (just 20 defensive snaps) was somewhat bizarre given he was the Dolphins’ top draft pick in 2023 and showed promising signs in preseason. Former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said it was because the second-round rookie needed to “improve in all areas.” So it’s not too surprising that when the Dolphins and Fangio parted ways in January, Smith wasn’t sad to see him go.

Don’t expect Smith to watch from the sideline again in 2024. While he probably won’t crack a starting lineup that currently has Jalen Ramsey and Kendall Fuller penciled in on the outside, there isn’t much depth in a secondary that parted with Xavien Howard and Eli Apple this offseason. Smith should have every opportunity to make an impact and his de facto redshirt year could yield dividends for Miami.  – Adam Stites, Dolphins Wire

Minnesota Vikings: CB Camryn Bynum

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – DECEMBER 17: Camryn Bynum #24 and Chandon Sullivan #39 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrate after a play against the Indianapolis Colts during the second quarter of the game at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 17, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Vikings fans will say, “he already arrived,” but that doesn’t mean he has nationally. Camryn Bynum was a fourth-round pick out of California as a cornerback back in 2021. He came into Minnesota, carved out a role with the team before Brian Flores arrived last season, and found a way to maximize his potential. With a year in the system in the books, I look for Bynum to break out and lead the Vikings secondary in 2024. Harrison Smith will remain the fan favorite, but make no mistakes about it. Bynum has the fresh legs and better instincts to make plays compared to Smith. Soon, people will catch up to that reality, and I believe 2024 will be the time it happens. – Andrew Harbaugh, Vikings Wire

New England Patriots: DE Keion White

Oct 8, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Kendre Miller (25) runs the ball while New England Patriots defensive end Keion White (99) defends during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Second-year defensive end Keion White has been one of the biggest standouts in the spring practices. He’s playing with more confidence, and according to Patriots coach Jerod Mayo, he’s accepted more of a leadership role on the team. On the field, White is an explosive playmaker with the ability to make far more noise off the edge than he did as a rookie. Having a healthy Matthew Judon to work with should do wonders for his overall game. White was a second-round draft pick for the Patriots in 2023, but some draft analysts believed he had first-round talent. This could be the year he proves those projections as true. – Jordy McElroy, Patriots Wire

New Orleans Saints: WR Rashid Shaheed

Dec 24, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Rashid Shaheed (89) runs with the ball after a catch during the first half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Shaheed was a big player for the Saints last year, earning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors for his skills in the return game while catching 46 passes for 719 yards and scoring 5 touchdown receptions. But he’s in line for an even heavier workload now that Klint Kubiak is taking over for Pete Carmichael on the headset. Look for Shaheed to draw more targets now that receivers like Michael Thomas, Tre’Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, and Shaq Davis have moved on. He has game-breaking speed and a connection with Derek Carr that Kubiak hopes  to exploit. – John Sigler, Saints Wire

New York Giants: WR Wan’Dale Robinson

Oct 23, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) pitches the ball to wide receiver WanDale Robinson (17) against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

After suffering a torn ACL in his rookie season, Wan’Dale Robinson slowly worked his way back in 2023, flashing at times later in the year. The healthier he became, the more dynamic and comfortable appeared. Now in his third season, Robinson stands to benefit from rookie Malik Nabers on the outside and the depth of Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt. Completely recovered from that knee injury, Robinson will man the slot role and should dominate any one-on-one matchups thanks to his excellent route running and on-a-dime cuts. – Dan Benton, Giants Wire

New York Jets: DE Will McDonald

Oct 29, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets defensive lineman Will McDonald IV (99) at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets swapped Bryce Huff for Haason Reddick this offseason and also traded John Franklin-Myers to the Denver Broncos. There’s room up front for their 2023 first-round pick to take a step forward after a very quiet rookie season that even saw him inactives at times. Similar to Jermaine Johnson last season, the Jets are hoping for a huge sophomore season for the No. 15 pick from last year. Remember, we are talking about a player in McDonald that set the Big 12 record for career sacks and that was with him playing out of a position as a 4i. – Billy Riccette, Jets Wire

Philadelphia Eagles: DT Jordan Davis

Dec 4, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Jordan Davis (90) before start of game against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In the first seven games of the 2023 season, Jordan Davis logged 2.5 sacks, 5 QB hits, and 19 tackles (2.7 per game) for the Eagles.  In the final ten games, Davis registered 0 sacks, 0 QB hits, and 28 tackles (2.5 per game), wearing down later in the season.   Davis has shed some pounds this summer, and after seeing a dramatic jump in his snap totals from 224 (26%) as a rookie to 519 (45%) in his second season, Davis will be counted on even more with Fletcher Cox retiring. – Glenn Erby, Eagles Wire

Pittsburgh Steelers: DT Keeanu Benton

Nov 12, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) gets sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt (90) as defensive tackle Keeanu Benton (95) gets a hand on him during the second quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

With the future of DT Cam Heyward uncertain, Benton is quickly becoming the alpha on the Steelers defensive line. Only in his second season, Benton is already working on rebuilding his body to help improve his pass rush and after playing only 43 percent of snaps last season, Benton is the perfect candidate to be a breakout player in a full-time role. Benton only started nine games in 2023 and finished with 36 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and eight quarterback hits. – Curt Popejoy, Steelers Wire

San Francisco 49ers: S Ji’Ayir Brown

SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 10: Ji’Ayir Brown #27 of the San Francisco 49ers intercepts a pass intended for DK Metcalf #14 of the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium on December 10, 2023 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Brown had an okay rookie campaign where he was thrust into action due to Talanoa Hufanga’s torn ACL in Week 11. While Brown wasn’t perfect, his penchant for creating turnovers was on display with three interceptions in seven games, including one in the Super Bowl. He’s on track to be the Week 1 starter this year, and a full offseason should give him a chance to show off the full breadth of his skill set playing against the run, playing coverage in the box and erasing deep throws when he’s playing up high. If he generates turnovers at the same rate as last season he might get Pro Bowl buzz in his first season as a starter. – Kyle Madson, Niners Wire

Seattle Seahawks: DL Byron Murphy II

Jan 1, 2024; New Orleans, LA, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates after a play during the second quarter in the 2024 Sugar Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s risky calling any rookie a potential breakout candidate, given what we know about the gap between college and NFL competition. However, when the candidate is the consensus best defensive player in the entire draft he’s an exception to the rule. In his final season at Texas, Murphy led the nation in PFF pass rush grade at his position, and he couldn’t have landed in a better spot than in Seattle with first-year head coach Mike Macdonald. In Baltimore Macdonald got the best out of several defenders, especially their pass rushers. Expect Macdonald to move Murphy all around the defensive line, using him to create the best possible matchups. With Leonard Williams lining up not far away, Murphy should rarely see double teams as a rookie, opening up opportunities for consistent pressure. – Tim Weaver, Seahawks Wire

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Zyon McCollum

Sep 25, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) runs with the ball as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Zyon McCollum (27) defends during the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Bucs traded away veteran starter Carlton Davis III earlier in the offseason, and one of the biggest reasons they felt comfortable doing so was the growth and development they’ve seen from McCollum. A fifth-round pick in 2022 out of Sam Houston State, McCollum has a rare combination of size and athleticism for the position, which he put on display with an incredible workout at the NFL Scouting Combine that year. He’s shown flashes of lofty potential over his first two seasons in the league, but with Davis gone, McCollum now has an opportunity to earn a full-time starting role across from Jamel Dean, and maximize his impressive physical traits as a playmaker on the outside for Tampa Bay. – Luke Easterling, Bucs Wire

Tennessee Titans: QB Will Levis

Aug 12, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis (8) passes against the Chicago Bears in the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee Titans quarterback Will Levis is entering a crucial season, as he’s looking to prove he’s “the guy” for the Titans in his second season. The Kentucky product showed some flashes in Year 1, but we also saw him struggle at times. Part of that was normal rookie growing pains, but Levis also had a terrible supporting cast with one of the worst offensive lines in the sport and a receiving corps. that had DeAndre Hopkins and nobody else. Looking ahead to this season, the Titans have beefed up both position groups in a big way, which puts Levis in a much better position to succeed. Adding to that, the Titans are moving to a more pass-heavy offense under new head coach Brian Callahan. If Levis can build on the good things he did in 2023, he’s in a prime position to have a breakout campaign in 2024. – Mike Moraitis, Titans Wire

Washington Commanders: DB Quan Martin

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 17: Puka Nacua #17 of the Los Angeles Rams runs after his catch between Kendall Fuller #29 and Jartavius Martin #20 of the Washington Commanders during a 28-20 win over the Washington Commanders at SoFi Stadium on December 17, 2023 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

There is some concern regarding 2023 first-round pick CB Emmanuel Forbes. However, there is no concern with last year’s second-round pick, Quan Martin. Martin can play everywhere in the secondary and has continuously earned the praise of coaches throughout the spring. With Mike Sainristil coming aboard in the draft, he’ll be the slot corner, freeing Martin up to play safety. One of the reasons the new staff was content with allowing Kam Curl to depart was Martin. Martin is a smart player who has a nose for the ball. He will open the season as one of Washington’s starting safeties, alongside Jeremy Chinn and not look back. Martin has benefitted from the coaching changes as much as anyone. I expect a strong season from him. – Bryan Manning, Commanders Wire

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