After the first two waves of free agency, many players who were on the roster last year are coming back. With another year in the system, there are players poised to breakout. The Patriots had a rookie quarterback and lots of new pieces, so it would be reasonable to assume the chemistry will get better. With a year under Mac Jones’ belt and the young talent on the defense, there are plenty of players who can break out in the 2022 season.
Breakout Candidate On Offense: Kendrick Bourne
Kendrick Bourne may have had the least expectations for the 2021 season, compared with Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith. However, Bourne was the most dynamic receiver the Patriots had. He had a fantastic year, gaining 800 yards and five touchdowns. Considering he had a rookie quarterback, it is reasonable to expect Bourne to have a breakout. Bourne created explosive plays with the ball and had many great contested catches.
“Now paid and a solidified role on an NFL team, Bourne would have his best season of his career: 55 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns. Bourne maximized his opportunities, finishing No. 1 in Target Premium (+53.1%), and No. 2 in Yards Per Target (11.4) and Fantasy Points Per Target (2.58).” Kendrick Bourne Player Profiler
Kendrick Bourne has shown that he can be the playmaker the Patriots need and a dependable receiver for a second-year Mac Jones. Also, while the addition of Devante Parker may cause you to think his production will slide, Bourne’s production could increase since there will be less defensive attention on him.
Bourne was vital to the Patriots during their win streak, and there’s no doubt he can significantly contribute to their offense in 2022. Bourne is the electric player every team needs, and he could certainly emerge as a go-to for Mac Jones. While the Patriots’ offense usually runs as a committee, we can still see a player take a significant leap. While there are other candidates to breakout, Bourne seems the prime one because of the different ways he can impact the game.
Breakout Candidate On Defense: Christian Barmore
During the 2021 draft, Bill Belichick may have gotten the steal of the draft in the second round. Based on ranking and mock drafts, there should have been no possibility of Christian Barmore sliding out of the first round. Barmore was a no-brainer pick, the Patriots desperately needed a pass rusher, and a first-round talent was on the board to take. But, again, Barmore showed out in his first year. While Barmore could not finish the sacks, there was no question that he was great at rushing the passer.
Through the first three weeks of the season, Barmore had eight pressures, ranking him at third-most in Patriots’ rookies since 2006. Barmore had a lot of playing time which is an encouraging sight because Bill Belichick sometimes redshirts rookies or limits their playing time. Barmore has earned the trust of Belichick in his rookie year, which means we could see a lot more of him on the field. Barmore will get enough reps to be able to develop.
Out of all the rookies, Barmore finished with the second-best pass rush win rate at 17%. He also has a lot of potential in the running game. Barmore was a foundational piece of the defensive line, and it can be safe to assume he will be able to finish sacks. Considering the amount of pressure he’s able to get, and how often Barmore can win his matchup, finishing sacks could lead to Barmore emerging as a star in the league.
Barmore’s emergence created a dynamic pass-rushing duo of Matthew Judon and Christian Barmore. However, after flashing his potential in his rookie year, Christian Barmore certainly has a lot of room for improvement, which can be scary for the rest of the NFL.
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