Every year, there are players who burst onto the scene and make a name for themselves. It can either be a rookie who exceeds their expectations, a player who hasn’t quite met expectations or a veteran who has a surprising year.
In 2019, the Washington Football Team had a disappointing year finishing 3-13 and securing the No. 2 overall pick. Despite the forgetful season, they had a few bright spots. Terry McLaurin finished just shy of 1,000 receiving yards with 919. The rookie out of Ohio State instantly became Washington’s No. 1 receiver.
The Washington Football Team is looking for a clean slate heading into the 2020-2021 season. Head Coach Ron Rivera is already starting to change the culture in Ashburn, and this can be the start of a new beginning for many players.
Here are the top-three breakout candidates for the Washington Football team in 2020.
3. Fabian Moreau, cornerback
Fabian Moreau was touted to be one of the biggest steals of the 2017 draft. He had all of the physical tools to be an elite lockdown corner on the NFL level. However, his potential hasn’t translated into on-field success.
For his two years in the league, Moreau had to play behind Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar. Moreau struggled in the slot, and this led to a disappointing first two seasons. However, Norman and Dunbar are no longer on the team. Moreau will also be playing on the outside.
The move to the outside will allow Moreau to use his size and physicality to his advantage, whereas in the slot, he had to rely more on his quickness and speed. With a new defensive coaching staff and a fresh start, Moreau might finally be able to reach the potential that had fans hailing him one of the biggest steals of the 2017 draft.
2. Antonio Gibson, running back/wide receiver
Antonio Gibson might be one of the most intriguing players on Washington’s roster. The rookie out of Memphis is the most-versatile player on the offensive side of the field for Washington.
Gibson mostly played wide receiver at Memphis, but Washington is going to look to use him at running back. The former Memphis running back only ran the ball a few dozen times in college, so it is going to take some time for the rookie to adapt.
However, offensive coordinator Scott Turner plans to adapt his play calling to cater to the personnel at his disposal. Turner is going to have a secret weapon in Gibson. Versatility out of the backfield is a young quarterback’s best friend, and second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins is going to need all the help he can get.
Gibson is going to compete with Adrian Peterson and Bryce Love for carries, but Gibson’s big-play ability will lead him to have a breakout year as a rookie, similar to teammate Terry McLaurin last season.
1. Da’Ron Payne, nose tackle
The Washington Football team has one of the most-exciting front sevens in the National Football League. The combination of youth and production leaves many hopeful for the 2020 season.
No. 2 pick Chase Young and Jonathan Allen grab the attention of the media and the fanbase. Ryan Kerrigan is beloved by Washington’s fans, and Montez Sweat is still fresh in the mind of fans.
However, one of the most underrated players on the front seven, is third-year nose tackle, Da’Ron Payne. Payne finished the 2019 season with a modest five sacks and six tackles for loss.
Young and Allen are going to get a lot of the attention and this will allow for Payne to find himself in a lot of favorable matchups. Payne has an incredible ability to get in the backfield specifically on runs.
In Jack Del Rio’s new aggressive defense, Payne will have his best season in the NFL, and he will become a cornerstone of Washington’s young defense.