Soccer is a sport of alternative, and each season of the NFL reminds us of that. Take final season, for instance: Who envisioned Atlanta working again Devonta Freeman amassing 14 touchdowns on over 1,600 whole yards, whereas incomes All-Professional honors? Higher but, who predicted Doug Baldwin ― an undrafted free agent in 2011 ― catching 14 landing passes for the Seahawks? And who can overlook in regards to the sensational rookie campaigns by working backs David Johnson and Thomas Rawls, of Arizona and Seattle respectively?

2013 included Eddie Lacy, T.Y. Hilton, Jamaal Charles, Greg Olsen, Emmanuel Sanders and ― yikes ― Montee Ball! 

And 2012 was a stellar series of predictions, together with Russell Wilson, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, A.J. Inexperienced, Demaryius Thomas, Doug Martin and ― oh no ― Isaiah Pead.

With that in thoughts, listed below are the highest breakout candidates of 2016. For extra NFL, click on here to learn my 5 daring predictions.

  • Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks

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    I warned of Lockett’s outstanding capability before last season, and he delivered, totaling 9 touchdowns, together with one kick return and one punt return. Count on extra from the second-year wideout this season. Lockett’s shiftiness and wonderful fingers make him the best goal for Russell Wilson, a quarterback whose artistic capability outdoors of the pocket matches Lockett. A 75-catch, 1,100-yard season could be very a lot within the realm of the likelihood for the previous third-round draft select of Kansas State.

  • John Brown, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    Brown — aptly nicknamed “Smokey” — is not only a burner. He is a terrific younger receiver who runs good routes and catches nearly all the things. Count on Carson Palmer to lean on him extra this season to be the 1A to Larry Fitzgerald’s 1B — sure, he is that good. The previous D2 All-American at Pittsburg State may even be Palmer’s high goal on this, his third 12 months as a professional. And an 80-catch, 1,300-yard season just isn’t too audacious.

  • Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis Colts

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    Moncrief, a stud from Ole Miss, is a Four.Four man who’s flashed throughout his two years within the NFL however has but to place his immense expertise all collectively. I see that altering in 2016, his third 12 months as a professional and the anticipated breakout 12 months for younger receivers. Andrew Luck goes to bounce again in a serious approach, and Moncrief — who goes 6-foot-2 and 220 kilos — will profit. Take into account this: Moncrief had only one 5-catch sport with out Luck final 12 months, however 4 with Luck.

  • Phillip Dorsett, WR, Indianapolis Colts

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    Dorsett is a Miami Hurricane pace demon who flashed as a rookie final 12 months, however lacked consistency and handled damage issues. In the event you purchase into the Andrew Luck bounce again hype — as I do — then the mix of Moncrief and Dorsett is significant. Dorsett is not fully not like T.Y. Hilton — he is a smaller receiver who can change the sport on a dime. The previous first-round draft decide ought to have the ability to create loads of mismatches for Luck, and his capability to line up all around the area is one other plus.

  • Jeremy Langford, RB, Chicago Bears

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    Langford has an opportunity to be very particular. And like fellow Michigan State product Le’Veon Bell, he’s a extremely versatile, massive again. In reality, Langford averaged extra yards per carry as a collegian than Bell. The Bears will lean on Langford so much — we won’t belief Ka’Deem Carey or Jordan Howard — and if their shaky offensive line is even respectable, a 1,000-yard season might be his ground as an alternative of his ceiling.

  • Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears

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    White, like Langford, is a really gifted second-year participant able to making electrical performs. And in contrast to throughout his rookie marketing campaign, White is lastly wholesome. The previous West Virginia standout is massive, quick and robust — identical to Alshon Jeffrey — and Jay Cutler loves to offer his receivers probabilities down the sector, notably in the long run zone.

  • Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Evans had an outstanding rookie 12 months, solely to endure a little bit of a sophomore droop in 2015. The 6-foot-5 Texas A&M star — whom the Bucs took seventh total in 2014 — nonetheless nabbed 74 balls for over 1,200 yards, however he additionally led the league in dropped balls with 11. Furthermore, his touchdowns went from 12 as a rookie to only three final 12 months. Nevertheless, with one full season working with Jameis Winston, and a wholesome Vincent Jackson, anticipate Evans to bounce again in a giant approach. He is just too gifted and too motivated to not.

  • Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Winston turned simply the third quarterback ever to cross for Four,000 yards, and the youngest ever as properly. The excellent news is that there’s ample room for enchancment: Based on The Ringer, “amongst quarterbacks with a minimum of 20 purple zone makes an attempt, solely 4 had a worse completion share than Winston’s 38.9.” We should always anticipate an improved season from red-zone monster Mike Evans in 2016, and Winston, with one 12 months of professional soccer below his belt, will probably be higher as properly.

  • Robert Griffin III, QB, Cleveland Browns

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    Griffin would be the Browns’ 25th beginning quarterback since 1999 — probably the most within the NFL. As I wrote about final week and discussed on the NFL Network, his lengthy ball is a power, and the addition of Josh Gordon may show to be all of the distinction.

  • Eddie Lacy, RB, Inexperienced Bay Packers

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    Lacy has been known as each identify within the e book: fats, lazy, gradual. However after rededicating himself to his physique, the previous All-Professional has misplaced a ton of weight and ought to be in line for an enormous bounce again season. The Packers wish to pound the ball and never be the one-dimensional disappointment of 2015. Lacy is a superb display again who — when match — is able to ripping off big performs.

  • Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers

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    Gordon was probably the most dominant working backs in faculty soccer historical past throughout his tenure at Wisconsin. He then turned in a complete dud efficiency as a rookie on a nasty San Diego group, shockingly failing to search out the tip zone whereas averaging a measly three.5 yards per carry. However do not forget that the Chargers ranked 31st in run blocking, per Football Outsiders. This 12 months, Gordon will probably be buoyed by the hiring of latest OC Ken Whisenhunt, who likes to run the soccer. Gordon is just too gifted to not bust out in 12 months two.

  • Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans

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    Miller’s dynamic, home-run capability typically overshadows his consistency, which is unfair. Over the previous two seasons, the previous Miami Hurricane has out-produced All-Professional Le’Veon Bell and outscored him by 5 touchdowns. Granted, Bell has missed time, however it exhibits simply how good Miller was with the Dolphins. Texans coach Invoice O’Brien likes to pound the ball, and Miller would be the prime beneficiary.

  • DeAndre Washington, RB, Oakland Raiders

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    I nonetheless anticipate massive issues from Latavius Murray, however the Raiders have a gem within the 5-foot-Eight, 205-pound Washington. The rookie comes from the unfold assault of Texas Tech — he has proven the power to catch the ball, which is a boon for offensive coordinator Invoice Musgrave, and his bowling bowl working type differs from the a lot greater Murray’s. The Raiders will use him within the display sport to assist Derek Carr, and he’ll get his fair proportion of carries as properly, the place his fast toes and toughness will make an affect.

  • Tyrod Taylor, QB, Buffalo Payments

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    The Virginia Tech product stunned lots of people — myself included — by stringing collectively a productive first season as an NFL starter. Taylor’s an excellent decision-maker — he had simply six picks all 12 months — and his legs enable him to flee bother. He ran for 568 yards with 4 touchdowns final season, a great portion of which got here on designed runs. Taylor’s rapport with Sammy Watkins is simple, and an uptick in manufacturing this season appears doubtless.

  • Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Payments

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    Watkins is an athletic marvel oozing with expertise — he merely has not been wholesome sufficient to show it. As beforehand talked about, although, his reference to Tyrod Taylor is particular. Blessed with world-class pace and playmaking capability, the dynamic Watkins ought to produce a monstrous third season for the Payments. Throughout the 11 games he played in full final 12 months, Watkins amassed 960 yards and eight touchdowns. These measure out to All-Professional receiving numbers with a full 16 video games.

  • Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants


    The diminutive Shepard — whom I’ve written about as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate — is the right sidekick to Odell Beckham, Jr. Like Tyler Lockett in Seattle, Shepard is a Large 12 disciple who, regardless of being undersized, performs a lot greater because of his large fingers and talent to high-point the soccer. Eli Manning will not have a ton of time to throw this 12 months, and Shepard — who will get open in a rush — may realistically catch upward of 75 balls. The Giants want him too: Final season, Large receivers not named Odell totaled 1,405 yards. Beckham, in the meantime, gained 1,450.

  • Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnatti Bengals

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    Boyd was a one-man wrecking crew at Pitt for 3 years and the Bengals rewarded the speedster by deciding on him within the second spherical. Cincy acquired free agent Brendan LaFell to exchange the departed Marvin Jones and Muhamed Sanu — and their 152 mixed targets — however Boyd’s stellar preseason has turned heads. He’ll see loads of motion and Andy Dalton will depend on him to make massive performs contained in the 20s, notably with the query marks surrounding injured landing magnet Tyler Eifert.

  • Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers

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    Hyde is a perfect bell cow for Chip Kelly in San Francisco, in that he’s a one-cut runner with simply sufficient wiggle to search out success. The favored false impression of Kelly is that he is some renegade head coach who solely needs to throw. Not true. Kelly loves to determine the run to arrange the cross, and Hyde — an Ohio State product — is a bodily runner who can present stability for whomever is below middle for the 49ers. Take into account this: “Per Pro Football Focus, he pressured 32 pressured missed tackles on 115 makes an attempt final season, which was the league’s greatest charge amongst backs with greater than 50 carries.”

  • Vance McDonald, TE, San Francisco 49ers

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    I used to be going to make use of the Saints’ Coby Fleener right here, however McDonald is way more of an unknown. Chip Kelly likes to make use of the tight finish. McDonald is a former second-rounder with a ton of capability who has by no means been given a possibility to be a pass-catcher. His athleticism and dimension — McDonald runs 6-foot-Four and 267 kilos — arguably make him San Francisco’s greatest purple zone goal. Count on Kelly to embrace him.

  • Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions


    Whereas I am very tempted to go along with fellow Lion Ameer Abdullah, Jones is a giant play man whom Detroit signed away from the Bengals to assist supplant the lack of Calvin Johnson to retirement. So he isn’t Megatron, however who’s? What Jones can do is flip small good points into big performs, utilizing his dynamic open area capability to make a number of guys miss. And he is the massive play receiver for a QB who likes to air it out. Phrase is that he and Matthew Stafford are already on the identical web page as properly, an ideal signal for the 26-year-old Jones in 2016.