After breaking down seven offensive breakout candidates for this upcoming NFL season, we’re switching over to the defensive side of the ball and identifying seven more names, who I believe are due for taking a big step forward heading into year two or three.
Once again, these guys must have at least played to some degree in the NFL and not made the list last year already. Players don’t qualify for a breakout, if they’ve once reached double-digit tackles for loss, sacks, at least five interceptions, received a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection, as well as if they’re just considered one of the best players at their respective position already.
And for the purpose of this being original content, there won’t be any repeat candidates from my list last year, which included Alex Highsmith, who I named a day before the Steelers signed Melvin Ingram to push him back on the depth chart, and Javon Kinlaw, who needed season-ending knee surgery after struggling through it for a while. The rest of the list actually pretty much all hit in a major way.
So now let’s get to seven new names, that I’m excited about for 2022: