Breakout players emerge every season. A new coaching staff, new schemes, or rehab from an injury, are a few valid reasons to see major improvement in an athlete. I will be giving you 32 names to watch for the 2019 NFL season. One player per team.
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San Francisco 49ers
Tevin Coleman – Running back
6’1” 205 lbs
5th year pro – Indiana University
2018 statistics – Rushing: 167 rushing attempts, 800 yards, 4 touchdowns, 4.8 yards per carry . Receiving: 32 receptions (44 targets), 276 yards, 5 touchdowns. 16 games played (14 started)
After being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Tevin Coleman played an important role on the Atlanta Falcons offense. The Falcons used Coleman as a second string running back, giving him touches when they took Devonta Freeman off the field. This past season, Coleman was able to get more playing time due to an injury plagued season for Freeman. Coleman made the use of his touches, having a career high in rushing yards and total yards from scrimmage.
In the offseason, Coleman elected to sign a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers. Head Coach Kyle Shannan likes to use a variety of different running backs, so Coleman will still be splitting touches with other players. Even though Coleman will be splitting touches, I expect him to have a career year on his new team. Shannan’s scheme is perfect for Coleman. The running back is a speedstar, who excels with catching the ball out of the backfield. Shannan’s offense is centered around a zone running scheme, where Coleman is effective. The 49ers run a lot of different screen plays as well in the passing game, allowing their athletes to get into space on the perimeter. I think this is a perfect pairing of scheme and player. I predict we will see Coleman have another season with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, while having a career high in total touchdowns.
Hassan Reddick – Linebacker
6’1” 235 lbs
3rd year pro – Temple University
2018 statistics – 80 tackles (53 solo), 8 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes deflected, 16 games played (12 started)
Being a versatile player is always a positive attribute to have in the NFL. Modern day offenses use a variety of different athletes, at multiple positions on the field. Defenses have adapted by using versatile players of their own. Linebacker Hassan Reddick is the type of versatile player that you want on your defense, but his versatility has worked against him this early in his career.
The Arizona Cardinals have made massive coaching overhauls in a short period of time. These types of changes often have a negative effect on a roster, specifically the younger players. The Cardinals have moved Reddick between outside linebacker and inside linebacker positions, multiple times. Reddick hasn’t been allowed to settle into one spot, and it has stunted his growth. Reddick seemed to find comfort in playing middle linebacker last year, and it looks like he will be starting there this season. I think a full year at one position will allow Reddick to take his game to another level.
Reddick has speed, instincts, and strong coverage skills as a linebacker. The Cardinals asked him to do a lot of different things last year, including man coverage against tight ends and elusive running backs. Reddick wasn’t perfect, but he held his own the majority of the time. Reddick truly has a real skillset, and I think he will emerge has a leader for the Cardinals’ defense this season. I think Reddick will have around 100 total tackles and cause havoc with multiple sacks and interceptions this year.
Los Angeles Rams
Cooper Kupp – Wide Receiver
6’2” 194 lbs
3rd year pro – Eastern Washington University
2018 statistics – 40 receptions (55 targets), 566 yards, 6 touchdowns, 8 games started
The Los Angeles Rams have one of the most dynamic offenses that the NFL has ever seen. There is a lot of motion, misdirection, and abstract play design featured in the play calling. Versatile receivers, like Cooper Kupp, have the opportunity to produce at a very high level in an offense like this. After a strong rookie season, and an injured plagued second year, Kupp has a chance to elevate his game in 2019.
Kupp was off to a very strong start in his second season, scoring 6 touchdowns in the first eight games he played. His season was cut short after a torn ACL in a week 10 win against the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams definitely missed Kupp later in the season, especially in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, where they only mustered 3 points. After a full offseason to recover, he will look to make a statement in year three.
At 6’2” 194 lbs, Kupp can create matchup problems for a defense. Kupp is a very good route runner, and does a good job of using his body to create seperation. The Rams like to line him up in tight, hoping that a linebacker gets matched up with him in coverage. Kupp is also a good blocker, so the Rams are still a threat to run the ball in those formations. The threat of a running formation, while still keeping three wide receivers on the field, gives defensive coordinators nightmares. Kupp plays a very important role for the Rams offense, and will give them more fire power after returning from his injury. I predict that Kupp will record 80 catches while scoring 9 touchdowns.
Shaquill Griffin – Cornerback
6’0” 198 lbs
3rd year pro – University of Central Florida
2018 statistics – 61 tackles (54 solo), 2 interceptions, 8 passes deflected, 16 games started
The Seattle Seahawks have had one of the most interesting retooling processes in recent memory. I use the term “retool” instead of “rebuild” because the term rebuild often implies losing. The Seahawks have found a way to rebuild their roster, while only missing the playoffs once since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2014. The group that has seen the most overhaul, is the Seahawks secondary. Every member of the “Legion of Boom” is gone, but there are some young players who are ready to make a name for themselves in this league.
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin was selected in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Griffin contributed early as a rookie in 2017, recording a tremendous 15 pass deflections as a rookie! In his second season, Griffin was asked to do a lot more by the coaching staff. Griffin played both outside corner and slot corner. The young corner is very fluid in coverage, holding his own in both man and zone coverages. He is patient, and discipline with his technique. Griffin is also a willing tackler, and proved to be effective in run support. He was clearly the Seahawks best corner, and often matched up with the best receiver on the opposing team. Year three looks to be a big one for the UCF alum. I expect Griffin to do more “shadowing”, and follow elite wide receivers around the field. I think he will record over 10 pass deflections and make progress towards becoming a star corner in the NFL.