With the 2021 NFL season slowly coming up, plenty of teams around the league are looking to make additional late roster moves or hoping to see their young talent develop. Both free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft have come and gone, but there are plenty of talented free agents left on the market and quite a few players who could be traded by their current teams. For the Green Bay Packers, adding outside talent is likely off the table at this point, but they will be banking on development from their young talent.
Green Bay has gone through a lot this offseason. They were able to re-sign star running back Aaron Jones, but lost All-Pro center Corey Linsley to the Los Angeles Chargers. Kevin King was also re-signed, but the Packers moved on from Christian Kirksey.
Plenty of moves were made, but the Packers did not look outside of their roster much. Instead, they focused on adding more potential in the NFL Draft and were able to bring in cornerback Eric Stokes, center Josh Myers, and wide receiver Amari Rodgers in the first three rounds of the draft. All of those players have the potential to become something special in the future.
While the Packers will hope that their rookies can come in and play a role, they also have quite a bit of young talent already on the roster before the draft that they were hoping to see a big step from in 2021.
All of that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at three potential breakout players for the Packers this coming season.
3. Kamal Martin, Inside Linebacker
One of the key players that the Packers need to see development from is Kamal Martin, who projects as a potential starter at inside linebacker. Krys Barnes was a rookie last year and will start at inside linebacker as well. Martin is a guy that did not show as much during his limited action as a rookie in 2020.
A fifth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Martin ended his rookie year with 24 total tackles to go along with one sack. He didn’t put up huge numbers by any stretch, but he showed enough flashes of big potential that the Packers are very high on him. Martin could very well be in store for a major breakout season this year.
With a consistent role in the Green Bay defense, Martin will be able to show what he is truly made of in 2021. He will be a major X-Factor for the defense and it will be interesting to see what he’s able to produce.
2. Rashan Gary, EDGE
Next up, the Packers are hoping to see their third-year pass-rusher have a breakout season. After drafting him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Gary has racked up 55 total tackles to go along with seven sacks and a defended pass. His role simply has not been consistent behind Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.
Rashan Gary shut that down fast 🔥 @RashanAGary @packers
📺 #TENvsGB on NBC pic.twitter.com/CgRKjPyWSX
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 28, 2020
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, the Packers are going to see what they have in the young edge rusher. Gary has the potential to become a star, but he needs an opportunity. With the offseason rumors that Green Bay could move on from Preston Smith, the Packers have to put their youngster on the field to see if he can be a long-term starter.
Gary could be a player to keep a close eye on for the Packers. If he produces up to the level that he is capable of producing, the franchise will have a new star rusher. Hopefully, he gets the role that he needs and can live up to the hype.
1. AJ Dillon, Running Back
Finally, this list would not be complete with adding second-year running back AJ Dillon to it. He is set to be the primary backup for Aaron Jones following the free agency departure of Jamaal Williams. Late in the 2020 season, Dillon received a huge workload against the Tennessee Titans and ended up carrying the football 21 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Rookie AJ Dillon scores his first NFL touchdown! #GoPackGo
📺: #TENvsGB on NBC
📱: NFL app // Yahoo Sports app: https://t.co/iW14QNTbk4 pic.twitter.com/4nzvBys49N
— NFL (@NFL) December 28, 2020
Playing behind Jones, Dillon is not going to be a workhorse running back for the Packers. However, he absolutely will receive consistent carries and should be able to have a breakout season.
When the Packers selected Dillon in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft at No. 62 overall, fans were very unhappy. Now, they are starting to change their tune and there is a ton of hype surrounding the former Boston College standout. Dillon has a chance to put up a big season and show off the talent that the Packers saw in him.