As the Cowboys are firmly planted in the 2021 offseason, it is a good time to look ahead at the upcoming season and hope for better things. Like breakout players. This idea germinated today from an article over at Bleacher Report where they discussed the potential breakout player for each NFL team. Part of the problem with this type of article is the definition of “breakout player.” Bleacher Report went with players who have not earned a Pro Bowl or All-Pro nod previously who could ascend to that level in 2021.
For the Cowboys, they chose CeeDee Lamb.
While Justin Jefferson was busy lighting it up for the Minnesota Vikings, fellow rookie wideout CeeDee Lamb quietly had a tremendous campaign for the Dallas Cowboys. Despite playing alongside talented wideouts Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper, Lamb racked up 935 yards and five touchdowns on 74 receptions.
Lamb also played the majority of the season without starting quarterback Dak Prescott, who landed on injured reserve with a broken ankle after Week 5.
If Prescott is back—which will require a recovery and a resolution to his pending free-agent status—Lamb could blossom into a Pro Bowl talent and Dallas’ new No. 1 receiver.
With all due respect to Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert, Lamb was a different playmaker with Prescott behind center—433 of his yards and two of his scores came in the first five weeks.
Fair enough. Lamb is certainly on the path to stardom and having Dak Prescott back (hopefully) should put him there.
But instead, let’s look at some candidates for the Cowboys 2021 squad with a little different breakout designation. We’ll say these are players who have shown some potential, but that could have a huge role in the Cowboys success this coming season. It doesn’t mean they are going to be All-Pros or superstars in 2021, but they will become key contributors.
Here are six candidates.
In some respects 2020 was Wilson’s breakout year, but it’s a small sample size. Can he repeat it for the whole season? Creating turnovers on a regular basis is hard thing to do, can he continue that element of his game in 2021? He also needs to shore up the weaker parts of his game like pass coverage in space. The hard-hitting safety certainly grabbed our attention in 2020, so we’ll be watching for him to prove it wasn’t a fluke in 2021.
Diggs had an interesting rookie year. Different NFL analysts have called it anything from poor and troubling to promising and effective. That’s likely because we saw two different Diggs during the year. Early on there were lots of busted coverages and poor recognition. Later on there was more confidence and some interceptions thrown in. Diggs has shown the ability to blanket receivers, but consistency is the key.
Blake Jarwin/Dalton Schultz
This one is a little bit of a cheat. We’re lumping two players together because what happens at the position is a little unclear. Jarwin was supposed to be last year’s breakout player until his season-ending injury in Week 1. Schultz could legitimately be called last year’s breakout player for his rise in importance and production after Jarwin went down. Could the combination of the two elevate the tight end position to a serious weapon in the Cowboys potent offensive arsenal?
Gallimore went from inactive regular to starting defensive tackle over the course of the season, and showed just enough flash to get him a spot on this list. There were a few games in the latter half of the season when he was a true disruptor. His fellow DT Trysten Hill could also be here, but we’ll have to see how he responds to his injury and see if he is really ready to take the next step. Gallimore has already shown he has the work ethic and passion to make the leap, but does he have the talent to carry him there?
Maybe this is more wishful thinking than anything, but is 2021 the year the Cowboys realize what they have in Pollard and utilize him to the fullest? Yes, Ezekiel Elliott will still be the lead dog, but in 2020 there were times that the Cowboys seem to get that using Pollard more was beneficial to the offense. The old “thunder and lighting” running back dynamic seems to make sense in Dallas, they just need a little more lighting.
The rookie center almost established himself as the starter until injury came along and gave the spot back to Joe Looney. This year might be the year that Biadasz makes the spot his own. There was plenty of promise in his play in 2020, including some nice grades from advanced scouting services for his run-blocking ability.
Which of these would be your choice for breakout player in 2021? Or do you have someone else in mind? Hit the poll and then the comments to let us know.
The Cowboys break out player in 2021 will be:
This poll is closed
Blake Jarwin/Dalton Schultz