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#pounditThursday, September 24, 2020

5 breakout players of the 2019 NFL season

Lamar Jackson

As the NFL’s regular season draws toward a close, it’s worth looking back at some of the players who have made the year so much fun. While many of these are predictable names that we expected to shine, there are others that will probably come as surprises. Every year, we’re treated to some breakout NFL performances, and 2019 was no different.

Here are five players who really broke out and starred in 2019.

5. Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers

Godwin entered his third NFL season with a solid reputation. He was considered a good red zone target (seven touchdowns last year), but was otherwise viewed as a complementary piece. That’s not the case anymore. Godwin had 1,333 yards receiving in 2019, and his touchdown total jumped to nine. He managed to outshine Mike Evans at time and become an unquestioned No. 1 level receiver. He could have easily surpassed 1,500 yards receiving, but a hamstring injury scuttled that.

4. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Steelers

There was nothing fundamentally wrong with Fitzpatrick’s start to his career in Miami, but he wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire and, by 2019, didn’t seem to want to be there. The Steelers came and picked him up out of exile, and he’s quickly become one of the key players in a formidable Pittsburgh defense. He has five interceptions in just 13 games with Pittsburgh, and has vaulted himself into a conversation about the elite defensive backs in the game.

3. Shaq Barrett, LB, Buccaneers

Barrett collected 14 sacks in five seasons with the Denver Broncos before moving to Tampa Bay on a one-year deal during the offseason. Expectations were certainly low, and all Barrett has done is rack up a league-best 16.5 sacks and become one of the sport’s elite pass rushers. The fact that he did it out of nowhere underlines just how surprising this breakout is, but there’s no ignoring the numbers. He’s put himself in line for a very big payday thanks to his surprisingly great 2019 season.

2. Nick Chubb, RB, Browns

Chubb was a good running back in 2018. He averaged 62 yards per game, fell only four short of 1,000, and could have done more with additional volume. In 2019, he received that volume, and he has proven himself as a result. His 1,408 yards lead the NFL in rushing, and he’s over 1,000 yards per game to go along with it. Chubb has earned the right to call himself one of the best running backs in the NFL and is one of the few bright spots in what has been a dreadful season for the Browns.

1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens

It’s easy to forget now, but there were still a lot of questions surrounding Lamar Jackson at the start of the season. Was he a good enough passer? Could he stay healthy? Was the scheme Baltimore was building for him actually going to allow him to be successful? The answer to all these questions has been “yes”, and then some. Jackson leads the league in touchdown passes, has already set the record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, and is probably going to win MVP. It’s safe to say that’s a breakout — a huge breakout, in fact, and one that has us excited to watch him play for years to come.

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