Top Five Breakout Candidates For 2022
The Washington Commanders will enter the 2022 season with only a handful of players over the age of thirty on the active roster. With all that young talent, there’s little doubt the Commanders have several players ready to breakout. Among those players, five names stand out above the rest to form the top five breakout candidates for the 2022 season list.
To be part of the list players cannot be a rookie and for the most part, should be a virtual unknown to most fans outside of the Washington fanbase.
First on the list is second-year safety, Darrick Forrest. Forrest has the size and skill package to jump right into the mix depending on how well he assimilates to the defensive scheme this offseason. Forrest was around the scheme in small doses last season, playing in eight games mainly on special teams.
The former fifth-round pick offers the speed to close ground in-between opposing players while also having the best combination of skills for the ‘buffalo nickel’ position left vacant by Landon Collins’ release.
The Commanders main defensive scheme calls for several three-safety packages while in nickel formation. Up to this point, most think that Bobby McCain will serve primarily as one of those safeties. But the truth is if Forrest can handle the role the team would probably prefer using McCain in the slot and rotating him around to both spots when needed.
Expect them to test Forrest in preseason to see how far along he’s progressed. If he’s ready, look for an expanded role.
With the thought in mind that Washington uses those three safety sets, your brain should be telling you that means less of a role for linebackers. Especially when the defense uses a safety in the spot where traditionally a linebacker would play in the nickel and dime packages. Using a safety in that ‘buffalo nickel’ spot likely killed 40% of Jamin Davis’ snaps last year.
That means a linebacker in that scheme needs to learn to take full advantage of his playing downs in the 4-3 and 3-4 sets. Washington does use those packages, just not as much as the four-down linemen and one linebacker setup.
Blocking Jamin Davis would probably be a good idea pic.twitter.com/FnfU13Htlf— NBC Sports Commanders (@NBCSCommanders) January 9, 2022
In 2022 Davis looked behind on a lot of plays and lost on even more. Those who thought he would be a threat for rookie of the year were given an immediate dose of reality when he only started eight games.
With the team not addressing the middle linebacker role this offseason, the door has been left wide open for whoever can step up and take it. While Davis appears like more of an outside guy right now, the staff appears to be still giving him a shot, even while viewing Cole Holcomb as the main guy for the role.
With the uncertainty of where the linebacker position is heading, it would be foolish not to at least mention Davis in the conversation of breakout players.
Heading into the 2021 season not many people knew what to expect with rookie cornerback Benjamin St-Juste making his way into a major role. While St-Juste had some rough patches of getting picked on and suffered two concussions, he also gained that much-needed experience for the role.
Flip forward to present day, and the now second-year defensive back is ready to breakout and show us all what he brings to the table. Which is a strong, surprisingly quick defensive back with hands no one sees coming and a killer instinct to go along with it.
During the offseason program, the Commanders coaching staff has noticed a major shift in the quality of reps St-Juste puts in. To say that their staff is expecting huge things from him moving forward would be a major understatement.
The 2021 Washington Football Team tried to improve their weapons by bringing in Carolina Panthers receiver Curtis Samuel via free agency and then drafting UNC wideout Dyami Brown.
Brown was viewed as a dynamic long-ball target who could stretch the field and give Ryan Fitzpatrick another ’50-50 ball’ target to go along with Terry McLaurin and Samuel. Unfortunately, Brown never got going in his 15 appearances and six starts, putting up only 12 catches and 165 yards.
Adding Carson Wentz to the equation should help Brown’s breakout case quite a bit. Wentz has been known in the past for his deep-ball arm and ability to hit speedy receivers in stride.
In 25 starts Kamren Curl has turned heads and proved his worth to the Washington Commanders. In 2022, he’ll get his chance to be the backbone and overall leader of the secondary. Not too bad for a guy that was a seventh-rough pick in 2020.
He’ll need to run with this opportunity and keep on proving what his role is. In short, it’s time for Kam to breakout completely. One could make an argument that Curl was close to breakout status last season even though he had fewer sacks and interceptions than in his rookie year.
Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera certainly believes Curl is ready for the next step.
“I think the guy that’s kinda starting to find his voice is Kam Curl. He’s played very well for us…[the group] is really coming together.”
Those are huge words coming from a guy like Rivera, who rarely praises players in that fashion.
Well, there you have it…the top five breakout candidates on the Washington Commanders in 2022. In no particular order although most would agree Kam should be on top.