The 2020 NFL regular season introduced fans to several promising rookies, but others are late bloomers. Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is the perfect example of a player who just needed a little bit more time. Who are those players that could become households names in 2021 and beyond? Find out below:
An Achilles injury robbed Delpit of his first professional season. Cleveland desperately needed some help in the secondary, but the former LSU defensive back wasn't able to provide it. His return should be a boost for the Browns defense. With athleticism that tests off the charts, the biggest concern with Delpit was his tackling ability. Cleveland -- which had some of those issues this season -- needs more athleticism from the position.
Dobbins ranked 18th in rushing yards in 2020, but 35th in rushing attempts. Baltimore chooses to deploy a running back by committee approach and that will likely continue. However, the Ohio State product is likely to become a bell cow following the team release of veteran Mark Ingram. His 6.0 yards per carry was third best in the NFL. The Ravens have had a dominant rushing attack since Lamar Jackson arrived.
Although it was a small sample size, Dotson fared very well when thrust into action. Pittsburgh has bigger concerns on the edge, but some re-shuffling could be in order with Matt Feiler switching positions or someone taking on the role vacated by Maurkice Pouncey. Coming into the draft I was a big fan of Dotson, and he did not disappoint. His star could shine even brighter with a larger workload.
Lamb is a bit of a stretch to include on this list because he finished the year with 74 receptions and nearly 1,000 receiving yards. However, he was an afterthought as the top rookie receiver because of Justin Jefferson's play. If Dak Prescott had not gotten injured, there is a good chance that Lamb's name would be mentioned in a similar light as Jefferson. In the first five games of the season with Prescott, he recorded two games of 100-plus receiving yards. He had zero such games over the final 11 games.
McKinney was my top-rated safety in last year's draft so I am bullish, perhaps stubborn, in regards to his potential. The former Alabama defensive back missed 11 games, but ended the season on a high note with an interception against Dallas. One would think upgrading the pass rush is a priority for the Giants this offseason, and that only means more turnover opportunities for McKinney.
Mims missed seven games and really did not get a chance to acclimate himself to the NFL before seeing his first game action. Meanwhile, New York had one of the worst teams in the league and was marred by questions at quarterback and head coach. Mims flashed big plays potential accumulating 15.5 yards per reception on 23 catches. If the Jets can construct a stable situation then the Baylor product might be able to find bigger success in 2021.
Mooney was primarily thought of as a deep threat with his speed and that was certainly true. However, another element to his game could be unlocked with some stable quarterback play. It felt as though the Tulane product was producing one big play a game, but that is not born out in the statistics. He averaged just 10.3 yards per reception on 61 catches. If Chicago can figure out its quarterback position, it would be reasonable to expect Mooney to take the next step in his development.
Pittman averaged 7.9 yards per reception during the first four games of the season. He averaged 14.7 yards per reception for the rest of the season. The California native is expected to be a primary weapon for Carson Wentz. With that being said, he has only one touchdown reception in his Colts career. T.Y. Hilton is scheduled to hit free agency, so his departure could lead to more opportunities.
Sneed made some plays for the Kansas City defense over the first three weeks of the season before the 24-year-old suffered an injury. He missed seven games before returning for the end of the regular season and the postseason. The Louisiana Tech product recorded a sack against the Bills and Browns in the playoffs after registering three interceptions in the regular season. The Chiefs do not have any cornerbacks with a secure long-term role, so Sneed should capitalize.
Detroit hired Anthony Lynn, a former running backs coach, to be the offensive coordinator and coaxed Duce Staley away from the Eagles. There is every reason to believe that they intend to run the ball more often this season and they plucked one of the first running backs off the board last April -- Georgia's D'Andre Swift. The Lions managed Swift's workload for most of the season but, when healthy, he provided a spark for that offense. The former second-round pick produced 4.6 yards per carry and 7.8 yards per reception but was easily overshadowed by rookie standout play from Jonathan Taylor and James Robinson across the league.