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John Hefti/Associated Press
It’s surprisingly easy for quality NFL players to go unnoticed. Because of the fact that many fans root for teams and not individuals, only the league’s biggest stars are on most of their radars.
Those stars aren’t the only ones responsible for success, though. The NFL is the ultimate team sport.
Entering 2019, for example, San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert was a relative unknown. The journeyman had spent time with six other franchises before landing in San Francisco, and he was largely an afterthought in the 49ers offense before last season.
However, he emerged as an offensive centerpiece. He racked up 952 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns in the regular season and then rushed for 336 yards and five scores in three playoff games. He was a veritable secret weapon who nearly delivered San Francisco a Super Bowl.
Similar players reside on each NFL franchise, waiting to emerge.
Here, we’ll take a look at each team’s secret weapon for 2020. The focus will be on players who have never been named to the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team but could play key roles this season. Rookie first- and second-round picks will also be excluded, as for them, “secret” would be a misnomer.
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Adam Hunger/Associated Press
The Arizona Cardinals might have one of the NFL’s most exciting offenses in 2020. With DeAndre Hopkins joining the likes of Kyler Murray, Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and Kenyan Drake—and with offensive innovator Kliff Kingsbury calling the shots—the team is unlikely to take opposing defenses by surprise.
Backup running back Chase Edmonds, however, just might. While Drake—the recipient of the transition tag in the offseason—became the breakout star of the Cardinals backfield after arriving via trade in 2019, Edmonds was a woefully underappreciated complement.
Edmonds averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry last season and finished with 408 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. In Week 7, before Drake joined the team, he racked up 126 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the New York Giants.
Opponents will likely focus on slowing down Arizona’s passing game. However, Edmonds’ presence will allow Kingsbury to flip the switch to a run-heavy attack, with two backs and Murray able to wreak havoc on the ground.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
The Atlanta Falcons have arguably the league’s best receiver in Julio Jones and an emerging No. 2 in Calvin Ridley. They had a Pro Bowl tight end in Austin Hooper, who rounded out the pass-catching corps, but he departed in free agency this offseason.
However, opponents who believe the Falcons won’t have a threat from the tight end position could be in for a big surprise. After losing Hooper, Atlanta traded for Baltimore Ravens first-round disappointment Hayden Hurst. While Hurst fell short of expectations in Baltimore—just 512 receiving yards and three scores in two seasons—that’s largely because Baltimore also has Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews.
In Atlanta, Hurst could be a star.
“They actually upgraded at the position by trading for Hayden Hurst,” Senior Bowl director and ESPN analyst Jim Nagy tweeted. ” If Hurst were in this year’s draft he’d be the first TE selected.”
Hurst should see a monumental jump in production this season.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
Ravens receiver Miles Boykin didn’t make a major impact as a rookie in 2019. He caught just 13 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. However, he has the potential to be a breakout player as the Ravens look to transition to more of a pass-heavy offense.
“I doubt if I’m going to be carrying the ball a lot going on in the future,” quarterback Lamar Jackson told reporters. “We’ve got dynamic running backs. We’re going to have even more receivers.”
A third-round pick out of Notre Dame last year, Boykin has a great combination of size (6’4″, 220 lbs) and speed (4.42-second 40-yard dash) and could be a mismatch on the perimeter. If Jackson will indeed be operating in more of a traditional passing attack in 2020, Boykin could be one of the biggest beneficiaries and one of the team’s most dangerous weapons.
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Adrian Kraus/Associated Press
The Buffalo Bills had the league’s fourth-ranked pass defense in 2019. While cornerback Tre’Davious White rightfully deserves a lot of credit—and probably should have gotten more Defensive Player of the Year consideration—the safety tandem of Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer shouldn’t be overlooked.
“When head coach Sean McDermott first arrived in Buffalo three years ago, he set out to build his defense around safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, who helped turn the Bills secondary into one of the league’s best coverage units,” Pro Football Focus’ Solomon Wilcots wrote.
While Hyde was a Pro Bowler in 2017, Poyer has largely been unrecognized throughout his seven-year career. However, he is a tremendous back-end defender and one of the most important pieces of Buffalo’s defense.
Poyer started all 16 games in 2019 and finished with 107 tackles, three passes defended and a sack. He should be in line for another prolific season in 2020.
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Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
The Carolina Panthers are transitioning to the Teddy Bridgewater era after signing the journeyman this offseason to replace Cam Newton. The proverbial cupboard for Bridgewater is far from bare.
Christian McCaffrey is arguably the best running back in the NFL right now, and D.J. Moore is an emerging young wideout. The one big question mark is a tight end, though third-year man Ian Thomas might provide the answer.
Thomas took a backseat to veteran Greg Olsen last season, but he was remarkable late in 2018 after Carolina lost Olsen to a foot injury. He caught 25 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns in the final five weeks.
With Olsen departing in free agency, Thomas should get a chance to showcase his potential on a more permanent basis.
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Matt Ludtke/Associated Press
The Chicago Bears have plenty of notable players on defense, from Khalil Mack to Kyler Fuller to Danny Trevathan and Robert Quinn. Nickelback Buster Skrine is not one of those stars, but he was a valuable piece last season.
Skrine finished his first year in Chicago with 48 tackles, five passes defended, two forced fumbles and two quarterback hits. He also played 67.9 percent of the defensive snaps, according to Football Outsiders.
While nickel corners are often underappreciated, they’re especially valuable in an era of four- and five-receiver sets. Skrine should get plenty of opportunities to showcase his value in 2020.
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Bryan Woolston/Associated Press
Through three seasons, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross has failed to live up to his status as the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft. Though he generated plenty of buzz with a combine-record 4.22-second 40-yard dash, Ross has largely become a forgotten man in the NFL.
However, this could be the year in which the stars align for Ross to finally break out. He was an explosive component of head coach Zac Taylor’s offense early last season, catching 16 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns in four games before suffering a shoulder injury. He played a total of eight games and finished with 506 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Taylor appears to be poised to get more out of Ross than former head coach Marvin Lewis did, and with young gunslinger Joe Burrow in the fold, Ross could be a potent weapon.
At the least, his game-breaking speed should help open things up for fellow pass-catchers A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. That in itself is valuable.
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David Richard/Associated Press
With players like Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Austin Hooper and Odell Beckham Jr. on the roster, the Cleveland Browns don’t necessarily need more offensive weapons. However, they could have a sneaky-dangerous one in wideout Rashard Higgins.
Higgins saw little playing time in 2019, as he was limited by a knee injury and fell out of favor with head coach Freddie Kitchens. Two years prior, however, he showed a tremendous amount of chemistry with then-rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. He finished that season with 39 receptions, 572 yards and four touchdowns.
If Higgins and Mayfield can recapture their rapport, the Colorado State product could emerge as a reliable third wideout in new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense. Doing so would provide regular mismatch opportunities in 2020.
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Brandon Wade/Associated Press
Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence gets a lot of recognition for leading the Dallas Cowboys pass rush. However, one could argue that versatile defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford is just as valuable to the defensive front.
Capable of playing both end and tackle, Crawford is impactful virtually every time he is on the field. Unfortunately, he was limited to just four games last season by a hip injury. Two seasons ago, however, he appeared in 15 games and produced 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
While Crawford may not produce eye-popping numbers in 2020, his pending return should help provide some flexibility and reliability along Dallas’ defensive front.
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David Zalubowski/Associated Press
If you ask a casual fan who the top defenders on the Denver Broncos are, you’re probably not going to hear Alexander Johnson’s name. However, Broncos fans know that Johnson might just be a special player.
An undrafted free agent in 2018, Johnson made his first NFL start in Week 5 of 2019. He went on to start 12 games that season, finishing with 93 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three passes defended.
Johnson looks like he’ll be a central figure in Denver’s defense moving forward, though he probably won’t remain a secret weapon for long.
“I believe that he can be an All-Pro, Pro Bowl middle linebacker if he just continues to study the game, stay focused and committed to it,” former Broncos linebacker Al Wilson said, per Aric DiLalla of the team’s official website.
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Winslow Townson/Associated Press
During his time with the New England Patriots, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia often utilized multiple safeties in his defense. Utility man Duron Harmon was one of Patricia’s most versatile safeties and played a big role in delivering two of the coach’s three Super Bowl rings.
Now that Harmon is a member of the Lions secondary, he should immediately become one of Patricia’s favorite chesspieces as a player who can excel in both coverage and run support.
He is capable of filling a variety of defensive roles. He’s also an underrated ball hawk with 10 interceptions over the past three seasons.
While Harmon won’t be the headliner of Detroit’s secondary—that will likely be rookie corner Jeff Okudah—he will allow Patricia to do some of the things that made the coach a championship defensive coordinator in New England.
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Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
The Green Bay Packers struggled to identify a reliable second receiver opposite Davante Adams in 2019. However, second-year wideout Allen Lazard did emerge as a solid option late in the season. He finished the year second to Adams among Green Bay receivers with 477 yards. While that’s not an impressive number, the Packers saw his potential.
“By the end of the season, he was called upon many, many times in important situations to make big plays, and he did,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said, per Dan Wussow of Packers Wire. “He’s just a great teammate, an ascending player, loved his approach every week and he made some big-time plays for us.”
Lazard should have the inside track at being Green Bay’s No. 2 receiver—especially now that free-agent acquisition Devin Funchess has decided to opt out for the year because of concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
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As part of the Houston Texans’ trade of wideout DeAndre Hopkins, they acquired running back David Johnson. While Johnson, who amassed more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage in 2016, has the potential to revamp the Texans’ rushing attack, the other Johnson should remain a dangerous, if underrated, member of the backfield.
The organization acquired Duke Johnson from the Browns last offseason, and he went on to rack up 820 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. He did so while splitting time with starter Carlos Hyde.
Though Johnson has never been a Pro Bowl player, he’s long been one of the league’s top receiving backs. In five seasons with the Browns and Texans, he caught 279 passes for 2,580 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Johnson’s pass-catching prowess could prove to be invaluable as the Texans look to replace Hopkins’ reliability in the passing game.
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Michael Conroy/Associated Press
When quarterback Philip Rivers agreed to join the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, the team’s standout offensive line was likely a huge selling point. While All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson is the face of that line and left tackle Anthony Castonzo gets plenty of recognition, right tackle Braden Smith also helps the unit hum.
Smith doesn’t see nearly as much time in the spotlight as Nelson and Castonzo, but head coach Frank Reich believes that Smith is just as vital.
“I kind of giggle—I love Quenton, and Quenton knows I love him—but the world was ignoring Braden Smith,” Reich said prior to the 2019 campaign, per Andrew Walker of the team’s official website. “Quenton Nelson is playing his tail off, but Braden Smith is playing good football, too.”
If Rivers helps spark an offensive resurgence in Indianapolis this season, the football world may be forced to stop ignoring Smith.
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Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
When the Jacksonville Jaguars added running back Chris Thompson this offseason, casual fans probably didn’t take notice. Jacksonville got a strong season out of Leonard Fournette in 2019. He had 1,152 rushing yards, 522 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Thompson was just a role player for the Washington Football Team.
However, Thompson could be a useful tool in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden’s arsenal. He is one of the league’s top pass-catching backs, though he rarely receives recognition as such.
Over the past four seasons, Thompson racked up 171 catches for 1,505 yards and seven touchdowns in 47 games. He added 966 rushing yards and five more scores during that span.
While Fournette is likely to still lead Jacksonville’s rushing attack, Thompson will be a valuable change-of-pace alternative and receiving option.
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Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Those who readily recognize Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward generally fall into one of two categories: They’re Chiefs fans, or they closely followed Kansas City’s playoff run last season. Ward was not a full-time starter prior to last season—he made two starts as a rookie in 2018—but he emerged as one of the most important members of the secondary.
“Last season was Ward’s first as a starter, and he was solid, if unspectacular, snagging a pair of interceptions and breaking up six passes,” Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo wrote. “He allowed just 48 percent of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught, and those passes yielded a 73.6 passer rating.”
While Ward is not yet a lockdown cover man, he is a player on the rise and could creep toward Pro Bowl status.
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Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press
Casual fans and fantasy football enthusiasts should be excited to watch Las Vegas Raiders rookie receiver Henry Ruggs III this season. The former Alabama star and 12th overall draft pick figures to be the speedy playmaker the passing attack has been missing.
However, Silver and Black faithful are just as eager to see what slot receiver Hunter Renfrow can accomplish in his second pro season.
A fifth-round pick last offseason, Renfrow exploded once he got an opportunity to shine. He became one of Derek Carr’s most reliable targets and finished the regular season with 49 receptions, 605 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games, including four starts.
If Renfrow can make a second-year leap, he could emerge as one of the top young pass-catchers in the game. Fortunately for him, the arrival of Ruggs, third-round pick Bryan Edwards and free agent Nelson Agholor shouldn’t affect his status as Carr’s man in the middle.
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Ed Zurga/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Chargers parted with running back Melvin Gordon III this offseason, which will open the door for Austin Ekeler. However, the Chargers like to utilize a committee backfield, and the potential contributions of backup Justin Jackson shouldn’t be overlooked.
When given opportunities, Jackson has produced at a high level. He has averaged 5.1 yards per carry as a pro and put up a whopping 6.9 yards per rush last season. As head coach Anthony Lynn pointed out, though, Jackson has been held back by injuries.
“Jackson has shown that he can play, he can move the chains, but Justin Jackson has got to stay on the football field,” Lynn said, per ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry.
If he does, Jackson can be the sort of ground complement to Ekeler needed to propel the Chargers rushing attack toward the ranks of the elite.
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John Hefti/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Rams parted with two key members of their offense this offseason: running back Todd Gurley and wideout Brandin Cooks. While a competition will be held in camp to replace Gurley, fourth-year wideout Josh Reynolds may already be poised to replace Cooks.
“We would not have made the move on Brandin Cooks if [it] had not been for the confidence that we have in Josh Reynolds,” head coach Sean McVay said, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.
Reynolds, a fourth-round pick out of Texas A&M, filled in for Cooper Kupp in 2018 after Kupp suffered a torn ACL. He started eight games that season and finished with 29 catches, 402 yards and five touchdowns. Last season, Reynolds made just two starts and finished with 21 receptions, 326 yards and a score.
With Cooks gone, Reynolds has an opportunity to take on a significant role out of the gate rather than step in as a replacement or serve as a role player. He could emerge as one of Los Angeles’ most important weapons.
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Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press
After the offseason additions of cornerback Byron Jones and end Shaq Lawson, the Miami Dolphins could be in store for a defensive resurgence this season. They already had a couple of key pieces in 2018 Pro Bowl corner Xavien Howard and 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins.
The Dolphins also have a tremendous defensive weapon in tackle Davon Godchaux, though he has spent little time in the spotlight since being drafted in the fifth round in 2017. The LSU product is a disruptor who dominated as the nose tackle under rookie head coach Brian Flores last season.
Godchaux started all 16 games and finished with 75 tackles, two sacks and seven quarterback hits. While Jones, Howard and Wilkins are likely to be the stars of the defense, Godchaux is the catalyst at the point of attack who will allow them to shine.
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Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press
The Minnesota Vikings were comfortable with losing four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen this offseason, and Ifeadi Odenigbo might have been why.
Odenigbo was picked by the Vikings in the seventh round of the 2017 draft. However, he landed on the practice squad and was waived before he joined the Cleveland Browns and then the Arizona Cardinals. He appeared in just one game for Arizona before he was waived and signed again by Minnesota to the practice squad. The Vikings brought him back on a futures contract last January, and Odenigbo rewarded them with big-time production.
Despite not starting any of his 16 appearances, Odenigbo racked up seven sacks to go with 23 tackles and a forced fumble. At worst, he should again be a high-end situational pass-rusher—though Odenigbo has the potential to follow in Griffen’s footsteps as a Pro Bowl starting defensive end.
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Elise Amendola/Associated Press
The New England Patriots lost several key defenders this offseason, notably linebackers Jamie Collins Sr. and Kyle Van Noy and safety Duron Harmon. However, New England is used to navigating roster turnover and should still field a high-end defense thanks to the presence of players such as second-year defensive end Chase Winovich.
A third-round pick out of Michigan in 2019, Winovich played sparingly as a rookie. He didn’t log a start and played just 28.7 percent of snaps, according to Football Outsiders. However, he was efficient with his opportunities, amassing 26 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
Winovich averaged one sack for every 53.8 snaps. He would average roughly one sack per game as a full-time starter at that rate, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if Winovich produces double-digit sacks.
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John Amis/Associated Press
To casual fans, New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Williams is probably best known as the player who allowed the Minneapolis Miracle, which ended New Orleans’ playoff run in 2017. However, those who follow the Saints closely—including Pro Football Focus—know Williams has emerged as one of the NFL’s best young safeties.
“Williams had the best PFF overall grade of any member of the secondary a season ago (86.5),” PFFs Sam Monson wrote. “He also earned the best coverage grade (89.2). Williams has become an elite safety after the disaster that was the Minneapolis Miracle play early in his career, and he will again be an impact player on the back end.”
Though Williams didn’t earn Pro Bowl recognition last season, he put up all-star numbers, finishing with 55 tackles, 13 passes defended, four interceptions and a forced fumble. He’s arguably the best player on the back end of defense and a big reason why the Saints should feel they’ll have a championship squad in 2020.
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Mark Tenally/Associated Press
When the New York Giants traded wideout Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns last offseason, most of the focus was on Cleveland’s end of the bargain. However, New York added a premier guard in the deal in Kevin Zeitler.
Though Zeitler has never received a Pro Bowl nod, he has been nothing short of fantastic in his eight-year career. He’s missed just nine games and last season was responsible for just two penalties and three sacks, according to Pro Football Focus.
While the Giants expect rookie tackle and fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas to make a positive impact this season, Zeitler will likely remain their top lineman and one of the most underrated members of the offense.
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Adam Hunger/Associated Press
If you’re not a New York Jets fan, you probably couldn’t name the player who led the team in sacks last season—and no, it wasn’t departed safety Jamal Adams. That player was linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who also tied for the team lead in sacks in 2018.
Though far from a household name, Jenkins is a budding star. The former Georgia standout was a key piece of Gregg Williams’ aggressive unit last season, finishing with 32 tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and 13 quarterback hits in 14 games.
Jenkins has 15 sacks over the past two seasons and should again be the Jets’ leading sack artist.
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Michael Perez/Associated Press
The Philadelphia Eagles used a first-round pick on former TCU wideout Jalen Reagor in April. Reagor—along with a healthy DeSean Jackson—should help provide the passing attack with a significant boost.
However, it would be unwise to discount the potential impact of third-year tight end Dallas Goedert. The South Dakota State product made a Year 2 leap last season, finishing with 607 receiving yards and five touchdowns a year after producing 334 yards and four scores.
Another step forward could mean Goedert approaches the coveted 1,000-yard mark.
Now, Zach Ertz is still the star of the tight end show in Philadelphia and Carson Wentz’s go-to target. However, Goedert is coming into his own and offers the Eagles flexibility. Whether splitting out as a big receiver or performing in two-tight end sets, he will be one of head coach Doug Pederson’s chief chess pieces.
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Nick Wass/Associated Press
The Pittsburgh Steelers are expected to have a healthy Ben Roethlisberger behind center in 2020. His return should precipitate a surge in production for wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Diontae Johnson. It should also have a positive impact on tight end Vance McDonald.
Though McDonald isn’t viewed as a top-tier pass-catcher, he is a vital piece of the Pittsburgh aerial attack. His production fell off with the duo of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at quarterback last year—he had just 273 yards and three touchdowns—but he was a force with Big Ben two years ago.
McDonald finished the 2018 season with 50 catches, 610 yards and four scores.
A physical presence as a blocker and after the catch, McDonald might be the most underrated member of the offense. Though he’ll split time with free-agent addition Eric Ebron, expect McDonald to make plenty of opposing defense pay for losing track of him.
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Tony Avelar/Associated Press
The San Francisco 49ers reached Super Bowl LIV on the strength of a premier pass rush and the league’s top-ranked pass defense. While cornerback Richard Sherman receives a lot of recognition, fellow corner K’Waun Williams is just as important to the unit’s success.
“[Williams] is just so dynamic in every phase,” Sherman said in December, via the team’s official website. “If you just look at him and his pass-rushing ability on its own, it’s outstanding. If you look at him in terms of just coverage ability, it’s outstanding. If you look at him in terms of run, it’s outstanding.”
Opposing teams looking to avoid Sherman regularly paid by trying to attack Williams in the slot. He finished the 2019 season with 51 tackles, two interceptions and four forced fumbles.
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Michael Perez/Associated Press
After last week’s blockbuster trade, safety Jamal Adams is the face of the Seattle Seahawks defense. Adams should bolster the run defense and second-level coverage, but while he’s a solid blitzer—he had 6.5 sacks last season—he isn’t likely to provide the team’s lagging pass rush with a significant boost.
Seattle amassed just 28 sacks in 2019.
What could bolster the pass rush is a return to form for defensive tackle Jarran Reed. He played 10 games last year because of a six-game suspension and finished with just 27 tackles and two sacks. In 2018, however, Reed racked up 10.5 sacks to go with 50 tackles and 24 quarterback hits.
Defenders who can bring interior pressure are extremely valuable in today’s NFL, and Reed is just that. Though he has been unrecognized by Pro Bowl voters, Reed is a player opposing quarterbacks should identify pre-snap.
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Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2020 season will be largely defined by quarterback Tom Brady and his impact on the offense. However, if the Bucs hope to be title contenders with Brady, they are going to need defensive improvements as well—most notably against the pass, as they ranked just 30th in yards allowed through the air last season.
This is how second-year cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting can emerge as a weapon. The Central Michigan product was fantastic as a rookie, finishing with 44 tackles, eight passes defended, three interceptions, a sack and a forced fumble. He appeared in all 16 games and made 10 starts.
Murphy-Bunting’s ball skills will make him a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks who are trying to outduel Brady. With a year of experience under his belt, Murphy-Bunting could be the up-and-coming cornerback of 2020.
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Eric Christian Smith/Associated Press
In 2019, the Tennessee Titans forged an identity as a run-heavy team with a savvy game-manager quarterback. However, while they were known for their offense, Tennessee wouldn’t have reached the AFC title game without some strong contributions from what was an underrated defense.
While the Titans ranked just 21st in yards allowed, they landed 12th in scoring defense.
Second-year pass-rusher Harold Landry III was a big piece of the defensive puzzle. The former Boston College standout racked up nine sacks to go with 68 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception. He had another seven tackles and a sack in the playoffs.
While Landry isn’t widely considered one of the top young edge-rushers in the NFL, he can wreck opposing game plans and is the driving force behind the Tennessee pass rush.
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Matt Rourke/Associated Press
Washington may not boast many elite position groups, but its defensive line has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL. While 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat and rookie first-rounder Chase Young are firmly in the spotlight, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen is the anchor who makes the defensive front function.
A first-round pick out of Alabama in 2017, Allen doesn’t get the sort of recognition players such as Aaron Donald and Grady Jarrett do. However, he’s a disruptive force who can blow up running plays and pressure quarterbacks.
Just last season, Allen racked up 68 tackles, six sacks and 10 quarterback hits. That’s only one tackle and 1.5 fewer sacks than Jarrett had in his first Pro Bowl campaign last season (Jarrett had 16 quarterback hits).
With Sweat and Young attacking the edges this season, Allen could emerge as a star on the interior.