Projecting Three Breakout Stars of the 2022 NFL Season

At the time of writing, the NFL is preparing for its 2022-23 campaign with a typically unpredictable yet illuminating pre-season period.

Some would argue that pre-season is nothing more than going through the motions, and a chance for offensive talents to stretch their legs without giving away any of their key plays. For defensive personnel, it’s an opportunity to feel the endorphin rush of hitting a quarterback really, really hard.

But for others, the pre-season games are an indicator of what to expect in the weeks and months ahead, and that perhaps explains why the Buffalo Bills have solidified as favorites in the NFL betting after watching their closest rivals in the market, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, taste defeat to the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears respectively.

We’ll know more of what to expect in 2022-23 when the regular season gets underway in September, but there are some players who look primed to break out this term and take their franchises to greater heights. Here are three who are projected to do exactly that:

Austin Ekeler

It seems remarkable that Austin Ekeler missed out on a place in the Pro Bowl last season.

Here’s a guy who served up 12 rushing touchdowns and eight receiving TDs in the regular season alone, with more than 1,500 yards added to the Chargers’ cause.

That will surely spur on a 27-year-old who has crafted a solid career in the NFL after going undrafted back in 2017, and with Justin Herbert throwing him the pigskin it’s not impossible that Ekeler will even improve upon his outstanding 2021 output this time around.

Cole Kmet

The Notre Dame alumnus was given more responsibility by the Chicago Bears in his own sophomore year last term, and rewarded them with a 612-yard season that saw him rank eighth amongst all tight ends for pass targets in 2021-22.

It’s fair to say that the Bears did not cover themselves in glory last season, but better is expected this time around after they trimmed the fat from their roster and brought in Matt Eberflus as head coach.

Another key addition could be new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, who has a reputation for working his tight ends hard – his TE department at the Green Bay Packers combined for more than 650 yards and four touchdowns last term.

He will enjoy working with the talented Kmet, and as a consequence we expect to see improved output from the Bears man this season.

Derek Carr

A breakout star who is already 31 years old and has three Pro Bowl appearances? Make no mistake, the Raiders quarterback fits the bill after a number of seasons in the doldrums.

Carr just about scrambled over the 4,000-yard mark in his first year as a Raider, but he was closer to 5k in 2021 and could well challenge for the top spot this term ahead of more decorated names like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes.

New head coach Josh McDaniels comes with a reputation as an innovative offensive thinker, and the connection between Carr and wide receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow will likely bear plenty of fruit for Las Vegas.

As such Carr will surely enjoy a long-overdue breakout season, to go with those of his younger counterparts Kmet and Ekeler.

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