For all but four teams, attention has now turned to the 2023 NFL season. And while that means an offseason of team building, we can also look ahead to players already on the roster who have a chance to break out next year.
Here is a potential breakout candidate for each team in the NFL for 2023.
PFF's free-agent rankings by position:
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2022 PFF Grade: 75.8
One could certainly argue that Jones broke out this season, from Week 10 onward, when he was starting at left tackle in place of an injured D.J. Humphries. Jones allowed four sacks and 25 total pressures as a starter and didn’t have a below-average game until he faced Nick Bosa.
He will emerge as a quality left tackle with a full season starting there.
2022 PFF Grade: 64.5
Atlanta's offensive players have already broken out — or we at least know what they’re capable of with a real quarterback — but the defense is lacking players obviously primed for future success.
Ebiketie managed 28 pressures across 303 pass-rushing snaps in his rookie season, and he tallied 14 defensive stops on the year. His best game came in his first (and only) start, and edge rusher is a position that can have a transition period. There’s not much data that says this is a likely breakout, but Ebiketie was a talented draft prospect, so it’s certainly plausible.
2022 PFF Grade: 66.4
Finding the playing time with Mark Andrews in the same offense will be a challenge, but Likely has shown too much playmaking ability to keep him as underutilized as he has been this season.
The 2022 fourth-rounder averaged just 1.3 yards per route run but caught six of the 11 contested targets thrown his way, and he showed the ability to line up all over the formation.
2022 PFF Grade: 62.4
Buffalo needed an injection of playmaking into its receiving corps this season, and the answer may have been staring them in the face all season in the form of rookie Khalil Shakir.
Including the playoffs, Shakir saw just 23 targets all season despite running 171 routes. The Bills will be looking for ways to diversify that passing attack without breaking the bank, and upping Shakir’s workload is an obvious pathway.
2022 PFF Grade: 65.3
For a prospect who was supposed to be quite raw as a pass protector, Ekwonu had a run of impressive performances in that area, allowing one or zero pressures in nine games this season.
The low points were very low, and he surrendered six sacks and 13 penalties, but if he can eliminate the poor performances, he could quickly become one of the best in the game.
2022 PFF Grade: 75.4
Chicago’s offensive line started the season looking like one of the worst units in football on paper, but they really came together, and rookie tackle Braxton Jones played well.
The 2022 fifth-round pick allowed seven sacks on the year but only two in the final eight games. And over that same time, he was the 12th-ranked tackle in the league by PFF grade. With a jump in Year 2, Jones could be a very good starter for the Bears.