NFL 2021 Potential Breakout Stars


Sports Illustrated

Dak Prescott takes the field for opening day

Owen Hill, Co-Editor-in-Chief

As the 2021 National Football League (NFL) season nears, there are many “under the radar” players that should be taken note of. Whether their role on their team has increased because of injury, better teammates or even their overall skill, these guys are still players to keep an eye on. 

Here is a look at each major position on offense, and the value they could bring to their team.

Quarterback: Dak Prescott

With wide receivers Cedee Lamb, Michael Gallup, Amari Cooper, and running back Ezekiel Elliot helping Dak on offense, how could he go wrong? Dak was averaging nearly 372 passing yards per game before his gruesome leg injury. In his last full season in 2019, he recorded 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns. The Cowboy’s offense has only gotten better since then. Cowboys Offensive Coach, Kellen Moore, seems to have tapped into Prescott’s potential. Alongside Tyron Smith and Zach Martin with Prescott’s mobility, Dak has a chance to return right where he left off. Dallas’ defense is rated one of the worst in the league, so he is expected to be airing the ball out. 

Running back: Antonio Gibson

After barely being used as a runner in college, Gibson came out in flames his 2020 rookie season. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry (YPC) and 11 rushing touchdowns, which is incredible for a player who had only 33 total carries in college. He is going to have a full workload in Washington, and the Ryan Fitzpatrick quarterback upgrade definitely helps out. He is said to be a “Christian McCaffrey” type running back.

“He’s a little bit bigger than Christian, but he’s got a skill set like Christian,” said Rivera, who coached McCaffrey for two seasons.

The sky’s the limit for Gibson, and NFL fans are excited to see him take the field for year two.

Wide receiver: Brandon Aiyuk

Auiyuk exceeded expectations as a rookie from Arizona State University (ASU), and will be used as one of the main weapons in the San Francisco 49ers offense. Whether he has quarterbacks Jimmy Garrapolo or Trey Lance throwing to him, he is bound to do damage. Only playing 12 games last year, he was averaging 94.7 receiving yards on 7.5 receptions per game with 4 TDs in a six-game span from weeks 7-14. The 2020 wide receiver draft class is stacked with Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Justin Jefferson, but Aiyuk is up there with them. 

Tight End: Anthony Firkser

The Tennessee Titans offensive is loaded with the new addition of Falcons legend, Julio Jones. However, they did lose Corey Davis who was a key WR2 for the team last year. Because opposing defenses will need to focus so much attention on players like Henry, Jones and Brown, Firkser will more than likely be able to destroy this season. Firkser is now the main tight end for the Titans with Jonnu Smith making his way to the New England Patriots earlier this offseason.