5 NFL Players Who Will Break Out During 2023 Season

Every NFL season, some players announce their presence with breakout years, often ending with their first Pro Bowl appearance.

The 33rd Team analysts Dave Wannstedt, a former NFL coach, and Rick Spielman, a former NFL executive, have identified five players who they believe are strong candidates to take a big step forward during the 2023 NFL season. 

5 Players Who Will Break Out in 2023

Justin Fields Chicago Bears

QB Justin Fields, Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have done everything possible to strengthen their offense and give quarterback Justin Fields the best chance to be successful, and it’s going to work.

The first reason is Fields is going to be with offensive coordinator Luke Getsy and quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko for a second year in a row. That’s a positive for Fields.

Next, the Bears acquired wide receiver DJ Moore in the package from the Carolina Panthers when they traded the No. 1 overall draft pick. Moore is a front-line receiver. Darnell Mooney, who previously was the No. 1 receiver, is coming back. They also have Chase Claypool, whom they acquired at the trade deadline last season. The Bears also have Cole Kmet, who is a really good tight end, and they signed Robert Tonyan, the Green Bay Packers‘ starter for the past three seasons. So they have two starting-caliber tight ends. 

Then Chicago drafted an offensive tackle, Darnell Wright, in the first round and signed guard Nate Davis in free agency. So they obtained two starting offensive linemen and added two more receiving targets. Add it up, and this is the year Fields steps forward and jumps to the front of the pack in the NFC.  — Wannstedt

WR Kadarius Toney, Kansas City Chiefs

The first reason Kadarius Toney will have a breakout year is he has Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback. Toney was traded from the New York Giants to the Kansas City Chiefs halfway through last season, so he came in and had to learn a new system. When he was on the field, he was a dynamic playmaker, and you can see who they put around him.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling can stretch the field. Skyy Moore is a slot receiver who should take another jump this season with more playing time. Then they added Rashee Rice out of SMU in the draft. He’s not a speed receiver but is more of a possession receiver who is a very good route runner.

Who else do the Chiefs have in the backfield or at receiver besides Travis Kelce, who is 34 years old, that will be an explosive playmaker?

If Toney can stay healthy, he reminds me a lot of Percy Harvin, except he’s a better receiver. I envision some of the things Tyreek Hill did in that offense and how explosive he became. Toney has all of those physical traits. He should be more of a focal point this season, especially now that he understands the system. — Spielman

RB Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rachaad White showed glimpses when he was a backup to Leonard Fournette during his rookie year. However, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers let Fournette go in the offseason. Quarterback Tom Brady retired, so they will either start Kyle Trask or Baker Mayfield. I don’t see either of those two throwing the ball 40 or 50 times a game as Tampa Bay had to last season.

So for the Buccaneers to have success on offense – and they still have receivers Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage, but they don’t have Brady – they need a quarterback.

So expect a big workload for White, not only in the running game but catching the ball out of the backfield. If he can replicate what he did in Munich, Germany, last season against the Seattle Seahawks when he rushed for 105 yards on 22 carries, you could see a potential Pro Bowl player. — Spielman

Jordan Davis Philadelphia Eagles

DT Jordan Davis, Philadelphia Eagles

Jordan Davis is another player primed to make a big jump in 2023. The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Davis was a first-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 13 last year.  Why do I think the University of Georgia product will have a breakout year?

Javon Hargrave is gone. The defensive tackle, who had 11 sacks in 2022, signed with the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason. So now there is an opportunity for Davis to start. His main competition will be one of his Georgia teammates, Jalen Carter, whom the Eagles picked at No. 9 overall this year. Veteran Fletcher Cox is locked into another spot on the line. Don’t underestimate the competition between Davis and Carter. Do you think Davis will let his former college teammate take his job? This was a great motivational move by the Eagles. 

The Eagles have a good chance to make another run to the Super Bowl, and Davis is primed to have a big year and be part of that. — Wannstedt

Alexander Mattison Minnesota Vikings

RB Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

There are a lot of interesting things going on with the Minnesota Vikings and running back Dalvin Cook. Cook was taken off their social media and replaced with Alexander Mattison. There are rumors the Vikings would like to trade Cook, or they may release him as a June 1 cut to save some cap space. They also gave Mattison a two-year, $7 million contract almost fully guaranteed. So all the signs point to Mattison being the lead back in Minnesota this season.

I was with the Vikings when we drafted Mattison in the third round out of Boise State in 2019. Every time he has gotten his opportunity to be on the field, he has made plays in the run game and in the passing game. He’s always been behind Cook, who is still an explosive playmaker. If Cook is not in Minnesota, he will play somewhere else.

The Vikings must feel strongly that Mattison could step in and carry the load. When he’s played, he’s averaged more than 100 yards combined rushing and receiving. He’s an excellent football player, and he’s an even better person and a high-character guy. He works extremely hard, and if he gets his opportunity to be running back No. 1, watch out. He will be the next very good Minnesota Vikings running back. — Spielman

Dave Wannstedt is a former head coach of the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins. Follow him on Twitter at @CoachWannstedt.

Rick Spielman is a former general manager of the Dolphins and Vikings and winner of the NFL Executive of the Year award by Pro Football Weekly in 2017. Follow him on Twitter @spielman_rick

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