In most cases, it seems as though a particular player is on the cusp of having a breakout season. The immense anticipation that surrounds Year 3 is fueled by the success of Year 2. (see: Bills wide receiver Gabriel Davis).
On the other hand, there are occasions when players appear apparently out of nowhere. They had been given few opportunities early on in their careers, and despite the fact that they performed admirably, there wasn’t enough volume to tip off the masses that a breakthrough was on the horizon.
This upcoming season, who might those players be? The ‘Out of Nowhere’ Breakout Team for the year 2022 is as follows:
Evans possesses the history that is specifically suited for the Out of Nowhere Breakout Team. Evans averaged a seismic 7.0 yards per carry as a freshman at Michigan on 88 attempts. However, he never quite reached his perceived potential over the course of his career, and he missed the entire 2019 campaign due to academic issues that led to a full-year suspension. Evans was the No. 9 all-purpose back in the 2016 recruiting class, ahead of backs like Josh Jacobs.
Evans possesses an incontestable amount of talent. Check out his workout in the combine; it’s worthy of the first round thanks to his blisteringly quick times in the agility drills and 90th or better percentile broad and vertical jumps. The Bengals took a chance on a player in the sixth round of the 2021 draught despite the fact that the player had what might well be described as a dismal undergraduate career in comparison to the fanfare surrounding his recruitment and freshman year. Evans only had 17 carries during the regular season because Joe Mixon is Cincinnati’s feature back and Samaje Perine is the back-up running back who is guaranteed to get the majority of the carries. He caused five missed tackles on those tries, which is an encouraging number, and he averaged 4.5 yards per carry, which is a decent statistic. Additionally, Evans demonstrated to be a formidable receiving option, which is likely where the majority of his future worth will be located.
On 15 receptions, he had a catch average of 10.1 yards per catch, and he was responsible for five defensive pass breakups. He is stocky and springy, making him an effortless pass catcher. In a nutshell, he possesses the firepower to challenge Perine for the position of being second in line for touches out of the backfield on an explosive Bengals offence. Evans will explode into the scene in his second year if he is given the chance to do so, and I believe that he will see more playing time than he did in his first season.
Harty, formerly known as Harris, is on the verge of making the transition. You are able to perceive it. The former Assumption superstar was named to the first team of All-Pro returners as a rookie in 2019, the same year he led the league in punt return yardage and was the owner of one of the most spectacular college highlight reels in the history of the sport. In fact, one could argue that he belongs in the Mt. Rushmore of college highlight reels.
Nevertheless, this nomination for the Out of Nowhere Team is at wide receiver. The fact that Harty racked up 570 yards on just 36 receptions in his third year in the league — an average of 15.8 yards per catch — was a stat line that largely went unnoticed on a Saints offence that had its quarterback collective (Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill, and Ian Book) throw for 3,186 yards, the fewest in all of football.
In the year 2021, Harty had a contested catch percentage of 3 for 4 and forced six missed tackles while playing the position of receiver. In New Orleans, yes, Chris Olave was added to the mix in the first round of the draught, and it is likely that Michael Thomas will be back to 100 percent after missing the large portion of the previous two seasons due to injuries.
In spite of the fact that Olave and Thomas will consume the majority of the Saints’ targets, which, in theory, will limit Harty’s potential, I see Thomas, Olave, and Harty as the ideal complementary trio at receiver, with one being a possession receiver, one being a downfield specialist, and the third being an extremely nimble slot receiver.