Analysis

Bounce Back or Fall Flat? 10 NFL Players Who Need to Rebound in 2022

Bounce Back or Fall Flat? 10 NFL Players Who Need to Rebound in 2022

Each year in every sport there are players who disappoint with their performance on the field, and those that miss significant time with injury. The 2021 NFL season was no different with several All-Pro caliber players getting banged up, playing below their previous standard, or suffering a combination of both. How players bounce back from these setbacks is key to not only their next season, but in some cases the rest of their respective careers.

To steal an example from another sport, Tiger Woods has recently displayed how much work and effort it can take to simply get back to the playing field after an injury, much less compete at a high level on the grandest stage. In short, it is no simple task to return to form.

With that in mind, the following 10 players are ones that we feel are bounce back candidates in one way or another for the upcoming NFL season. Will these 10 players bounce back or fall flat? We answer below:

Khalil Mack

Khalil Mack missed the majority of the Bears’ lackluster 2021 due to injury and has since been traded to the Los Angeles Chargers where he will reunite with Brandon Staley, who was his position coach during the 2018 season. Staley runs the same defensive scheme as former Bears DC Vic Fangio, a scheme that saw Mack finish second in  Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2018. Mack will be playing opposite another Pro Bowl edge defender in Joey Bosa who will certainly be drawing attention of his own, and when that is combined with playing in a familiar system with little to no adjustment required and Mack is in good position to return to form.

Verdict: Bounce Back

Marcus Peters

Marcus Peters missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL and will be eager to get back on the field this coming fall for a Ravens secondary that was hit hard by the injury bug last year. A healthy Peters is a contender for first team All-Pro honors and inserting him back into the Baltimore secondary along with Marlon Humphrey and 2022 1st Rounder Kyle Hamilton will hopefully return the Ravens defense to their dominating ways. With his injury having happened before the start of last season, that gives Peters almost a full year of recovery that should allow for plenty of time for the rust to be shaken off.

Verdict: Bounce Back

Baker Mayfield

Mayfield has had a tumultuous offseason after a wild ride of a 2021 season. Not only was he playing through injury that limited what he could do on the field, but the performance he was able to summon was lackluster at best. Even though it is a new setting, that does not mean that he is in the proverbial clear. His new Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo was not a big fan of Mayfield coming out of college in 2018. McAdoo was critical of Mayfield’s measurables and overall athleticism, and now he will have to find a way to insert Mayfield into his offense and make a prospect that he himself was not a fan of into a starting caliber player.

Verdict: Fall Flat

Tre’Davious White

White made it through 11 games last season before tearing his ACL on Thanksgiving. As one of the better cover corners in the NFL, his loss was clearly felt by the Bills defense despite making it all the way to the AFC championship. Unlike Marcus Peters, White’s ACL injury occurred late in the season and his surgery did not happen until mid-December. In the past NFL medical staffs have tended to be cautious and deliberate with how they handle a player’s recovery from a torn ACL, and so it’s possible White might not be cleared for the start of the season and once he is it could take some time for him to get comfortable playing full speed with confidence again.

Verdict: Fall Flat

Jack Conklin

Conklin had an injury laden 2021 season after garnering first team All-Pro honors for the second time in his career in 2020. Regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Browns by the time the season rolls around, Conklin returning to play will be a major boost to the Browns’ protections scheme. In addition to pass protection, reinserting him into the offensive line can mean only good things for Nick Chubb and the Browns ground game. All reports indicate that Conklin is on or even ahead of schedule with his rehab and should be ready to go for Week 1 of the upcoming season.

Verdict: Bounce Back

Chase Young

Chase Young solidified himself as one of the best young defensive players in the NFL during his 2020 rookie season that saw him win Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Washington defense was disappointing on the whole last season, and Young’s performance through 9 games was no different before he suffered the injury. In order to return to his 2020 form he will need to regain his explosiveness in his lower body, which might be easier said than done when one considers that Young has had to rehab both of his knees due to the fact that the graft for his new ACL came from his other patella tendon rather than the one from the same knee. Young has been in high spirits when asked about his recovery, but much like Tre’Davious White, he could be on a slower recovery track than some others who suffered a similar injury last year.

Verdict: Fall Flat

Jameis Winston

Winston may not have been having a record breaking 2021 when he went down with a torn ACL, but he was at least performing at a level that gave the Saints a chance to win games with a fairly shorthanded wide receiver corps. The Saints finished the season 9-8 after starting 5-2 before Winston was lost for the year. Winston re-signed with the Saints on a two-year deal, and for the time being appears to be their number one option headed into the season. This year the former No. 1 overall pick has a strong looking group of receivers to throw to on paper, with a hopefully healthy Michael Thomas, newly acquired Jarvis Landry, and No. 11 overall pick in the last draft Chris Olave.

Verdict: Bounce Back

DJ Chark

Chark missed the majority of the 2021 season due to injury, and in the games he did play he only caught a third of the passes thrown his way. When he did catch the ball, he averaged 22 yards per reception on a very small sample size. Chark seemed to have a good connection with Gardner Minshew during his time with the Jaguars but has failed to have a remotely similar connection with any other QB he has played with. The emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown and the drafting of Jameson Williams will likely limit Chark’s target share in Detroit, and since he has only ever been truly productive with Gardner Minshew under center, a limited target share might not be what he needs to bounce back.

Verdict: Fall Flat

Jerry Jeudy

Jeudy was hampered for the majority of last season with a high ankle sprain that caused him to miss 6 games on injured reserve. One of the best young route runners in the game, Jeudy figures to be the primary target for new Broncos QB Russell Wilson in his inaugural season with the team. Ankles can be notoriously nagging injuries that carry on throughout a season even after returning to play, so a full offseason of recovery should be good for his prospects going into the year. A healthy ankle will allow Jeudy to showcase his high-level route running to the fullest extent, which in turn should allow him to separate and be on the receiving end of a large number of targets from Wilson.

Verdict: Bounce Back

Chris Godwin

Godwin has emerged as one of the top receiving threats in the league, and he was well on his way to over 100 receptions and had already amassed over 1,100 yards when he went down last season. As another mid-season ACL tear, it is possible that Godwin will not be available for the start of the season, and while he may be a better option than a player such as Russell Gage, the Bucs might not view that as a reason to rush things and could want to be absolutely certain before returning him to the field. If this does happen, it could turn into a situation that sees Tom Brady get into a groove with Mike Evans and other receivers that might limit how much Godwin contributes when he does return to play.

Verdict: Fall Flat