The Cleveland Browns are entering a crucial season. They managed to make the postseason in 2020 but followed that up with one of the most disappointing campaigns in the NFL in 2021. Now Cleveland is coming off of one of the most controversial offseasons in the league, one headlined by the acquisition of quarterback Deshaun Watson. There’s plenty at stake for the Browns in the 2022 season, and luckily, they have several candidates who should help them fulfill expectations. With that being said, here are three potential breakout players for the Browns this season.
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Browns Breakout Players for 2022 NFL Season
3. Donovan Peoples-Jones
The Browns’ wide receiving corps has undergone a complete makeover over the last calendar year. Cleveland entered the 2021 season with Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, and Rashard Higgins starting at the position. None of those guys are even on the roster as the new season approaches. That means there’s a massive hole to fill at receiver. The Browns partially addressed this by trading for Amari Cooper, but there’s still plenty of need for more guys to play well at the position.
That’s where Donovan Peoples-Jones comes in. He’s been a decent producer in Cleveland for two years now, and he’ll finally get his shot at a breakout year here. In previous seasons, he’s been buried on the depth chart behind a couple of other guys. That’s clearly not the case in 2022. He’ll be the clear second option in a passing game that desperately needs playmakers.
Peoples-Jones has shown flashes of solid play throughout his career. Despite only starting nine games in 2022, he managed to amass 597 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers may not seem impressive at first glance, but the Michigan product produced them with a less-than-stellar quarterback throwing him the ball. Now that the Browns have a legitimately good signal-caller, Peoples-Jones should be able to produce at an even higher level.
2. David Njoku
Njoku is in line for a breakout year for many of the same reasons as Peoples-Jones. Austin Hooper, who dominated Cleveland’s snaps at tight end over the last couple of years, is now a Tennessee Titan. This will be Njoku’s first year as a full-time starter since his second year in the NFL, which should lead to a massive uptick in statistical production.
The departure of pretty much the entire wide receiver room will also help Njoku. Watson will be looking for guys to eat up targets, and Njoku will certainly benefit from that. The combination of a huge increase in snaps and a lack of proven, quality receivers outside of Amari Cooper should allow Njoku to have the best statistical season of his entire career.
1. Greg Newsome II
It’s hard to have a better year than Greg Newsome II did in 2021. The former first-round pick immediately earned himself a starting role and quickly proved that he was one of the better cornerbacks in the entire NFL. He played well against the likes of Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, and a plethora of other solid receivers. Now, the stage is set for Newsome to continue his elite play and have a true breakout season as a sophomore.
A full year of offseason training should work wonders for Newsome. One of the biggest knocks on his game was his lack of physicality, and occasional trouble tackling. Now that he’s had a year to add on weight under an NFL strength coach, those concerns should disappear. Newsome will get the chance to show off his offseason improvements against a ton of good receivers in 2022, including Mike Evans, Ja’Marr Chase, and Stefon Diggs. A good year against those opponents would cement Newsome as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.