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It wasn't too long ago when we, as NFL fans, understood and gladly accepted it would take two full years for the vast majority of players to acclimate to the intensified speed and power of the NFL. Now? Society isn't fond of waiting for anything, much less players to slowly but surely come into their own. 

However, that doesn't mean Year 3 breakouts cease to exist. They happen. And a Year 3 breakout typically leads to a nice, lucrative contract extension. 

These are the third-year pros primed to break out in 2024. 

Drake London
ATL • WR • #5
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We know what Kirk Cousins is good for on the field. From 2020 to 2022 in Minnesota, he finished with somewhere between 4,200 and 4,550 passing yards at around 67% completion with near 30 touchdowns and close to 10 interceptions. And his new offensive coordinator, Zac Robinson, represents a branch on the sterling Sean McVay tree, which has a few staples, some more prominently known than others. 

In the McVay system, there's typically a true No. 1 wideout who gets fed the football every week. Most recently in Los Angeles, think of the gaudy numbers Cooper Kupp and, in his absence, Puka Nacua put up. With Kirk, there was Justin Jefferson with the Vikings piecing together a legendary beginning to his professional career. 

Now it's London's turn to step into that clear-cut, boundary "X" receiver role with the newest sprout on the McVay tree and Cousins throwing him passes in Atlanta. While London probably hasn't met expectations that come naturally with being a top-10 receiver selection, he did have nearly 1,000 yards in 2023 with questionable-at-best quarterback play. To date, London's yards-per-route run figure in the NFL is 1.96, with 2.00 being a single-season benchmark for high-level efficiency. 

We've had roughly 300 Georgia defensive players enter the NFL in the last three or four years, with seemingly half of them going in the first round, and Wyatt might be one of the most overlooked of the bunch because he's not enormous like Jordan Davis and wasn't otherworldly productive like Jalen Carter.

But it wasn't that long ago when Wyatt was the most useful upfield rusher on the Bulldogs' championship-winning group. An injury early in his Packers career halted most of his collegiate hype and led to barely over 110 total defensive snaps as a rookie in Green Bay in 2022. 

Alongside fellow Round 1 defensive linemen Rashan Gary, Kenny Clark and Lukas Van Ness in 2023, Wyatt played more like the Georgia version of himself. He generated a sizable 45 pressures on just 305 pass-rushing chances and finished the regular season with a respectable 5.5 sacks. Wyatt was an older prospect entering the NFL and is now 26 years old. He should be in prime physical shape -- especially because he hasn't logged significant mileage in his first two seasons as a pro. I expect a monster, almost Gary-esque jump within an organization that has proven it knows precisely how to develop players in the trenches. 

Listed as a defensive back, but, on film, a linebacker, Bell was one of the best players on the Cowboys defense in 2023. He went from barely playing as a late-round rookie in 2022 to 94 tackles, three tackles for loss and four pass breakups from his hybrid box-defender role in Year 2. 

If listed as a linebacker on Mockdraftable, Bell's 40-yard dash (4.41) is in the 98th percentile at the position, and his vertical places in the 81st percentile -- the former Florida A&M Rattler exudes explosiveness to the football and there is zero hesitation to his game. Plus at 6-foot-2 and around 215 pounds, he's not really "undersized" by today's standards for the position. 

Then there's his natural ability in coverage as a former safety. In his coverage area a season ago, Bell allowed just 328 yards on 35 receptions. And he's a stellar, hard-hitting linebacker who missed a mere six tackles on 649 snaps. 

After Leighton Vander Esch's retirement, the Cowboys need someone to step up at the off-ball linebacker spot, and they should feel good about Bell doing so as he ascends to stardom in Dallas this season. 

The former second-round pick from Auburn, who was a real -- and only -- challenge for Ja'Marr Chase at LSU, got out of the NFL gates slowly in his rookie season. He allowed an 113.8 passer rating on throws in his coverage vicinity, which included a whopping seven touchdowns. 

Year 2 was a different story, it was just easy to miss because the Titans finished 18th in defensive DVOA and failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year. But the pesky inside-and-outside corner didn't allow a touchdown in his second professional campaign and knocked away six total throws. He also had his first two sacks in the NFL and forced seven tackles for loss, up from two as a rookie. 

I'm pumped for him playing in Dennard Wilson's scheme, as the new Titans defensive coordinator is the first branch off the super successful Mike Macdonald tree that was originally planted in Baltimore. What McCreary lacks in size and length, he counters with supreme instincts and twitch to stay with receivers at all three levels. 

Bonitto has been beeping loudly on the radar for a while after being a Day 2 pick in 2022 following an illustrious career at Oklahoma despite unideal size for the edge rusher position. The fact he's proven he can be an overachiever as a professional lends credence to the idea he can legitimately break out in his third season in Denver. 

As a rookie, Bonitto got to the quarterback on a decent yet unspectacular 10.1% of 188 pass-rushing snaps. Without many other options in the post-Bradley Chubb era, the Broncos gave Bonitto more opportunities in his second season, and he actually got more efficient generating pressure. His pressure rate rocketed to 17% on 276 pass-rushing snaps. Now, the league's best edge rushers typically receive north of 400 or 500 of those reps during the regular season. We'll see if Bonitto can continue such effective play at a higher volume. I think he can. At Oklahoma, he demonstrated a wide-ranging diversity of methods to beat edge protectors, and by Year 3, he should be "NFL strong," so the bull rush is added to his arsenal.