Every year, players are profiled as breakout, come back and players on the decline for each team. Lets look at a few for the Green Bay Packers who could use a strong breakout year in 2020.
The Green Bay Packers selected tight end Jace Sternberger in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft. Expectations for him in year one were to come in, learn under Marcedes Lewis and Jimmy Graham, and then take over tight end one duties after the veterans have left.
Sternberger failed to live up those expectations in year one after he injured his ankle in the preseason finale. He ended up on the IR until November, playing in only in six games.
Packers General Manager, Brian Gutekunst, is excited about the potential Sternberger can bring.
“We’re excited for Jace and what he has in front of him. He’s still a really young football player. I think there’s a lot of growth there,” Gutenkust said at the NFL combine in February.”
With Graham gone, and Mercedes primarily used an extra blocker, it is time for Sternberger to show his value as a 3rd round pick.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, or commonly known as “MVS”, has all the tools to be an explosive down-field threat for any team. A late round pick in the 2018 draft, not a lot was expected of “MVS”. He posted solid numbers his rookie year averaging 15.3 yards per reception, the highest by a Packer rookie receiver since James Lofton in 1978.
MVS posted similar numbers in 2019 and had a higher yards-per-reception at 17.4, but he was widely inconsistent and had a catch rate of only 46.4 percent with only 56 targets. Compare that to Davante Adams who had a catch percentage at 65.4 percent with 127 targets. While no one is comparing MVS to Adams, the Packers are lacking a true number two receiver opposite Adams.
MVS has the opportunity to breakout in 2020 and be a strong number two receiver alongside Adams.
4th year cornerback Kevin King unquestionably had his best year in 2019. He totaled 66 tackles, one sack and five interceptions (t-4th). Some might think he already had his breakout season in 2019, but 2019 marked the first year playing a full season. King was also prone to giving up as many big plays as he made.
King will become an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season. If he wants to be a Packer beyond 2020, he will need to improve on what he did in 2019.
Packers outside linebacker Rashan Gary, drafted 12th in the 2019 draft, was considered a raw, but talented prospect coming out of Michigan.
Gary played in all 16 games last year, but had only two sacks. His productions was limited playing behind the “Smith Brothers” and Kyler Fackrell. Fackrell, now a Giant, the Packers will rely on Gary to spell the Smiths and provide an explosive pass rush.
The Packers were not good at pressuring the quarterback other than the Smiths. Gary has the opportunity to provide another dynamic pass rusher the Packers sorely need. He needs to show the Packers and the rest of the league that he was worth a top 15-pick in the draft.
Many might not think Gary, coming off his rookie season in 2019, may not be a Packer that needs a breakout 2020 season. If Gary fails to show growth in his sophomore season, he will be viewed as a bust by many.
The Packers will need these players and others to breakout in 2020 if they want to improve on a strong 2019 season.