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One player for every NFL team who needs to step up this season

Every team is looking to improve in 2020, but for that to happen, they need particular players to have breakout seasons. Here's a look at one player on each NFL roster that needs to step up in 2020.

 
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Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB

Arizona Cardinals: Patrick Peterson, CB
Rob Schumacher / USA Today Sports Images

Peterson missed the first six games of 2019 due to a suspension and didn't look the same when he did return. It was the first season of his career that he failed to make the Pro Bowl, and Arizona needs a bounce back after last year's defense struggled.

 
2 of 32

Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, DE

Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, DE
Jason Getz / USA Today Sports Images

Atlanta's first-round pick in 2017, McKinley has been a relative disappointment with only 16.5 sacks over three seasons. He had only 3.5 sacks last season as the Falcons struggled to rush the passer, and could use a big season as he looks toward free agency.

 
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Baltimore Ravens: Miles Boykin, WR

Baltimore Ravens: Miles Boykin, WR
Mitchell Layton / USA Today Sports Images

Baltimore is a run-first team with Lamar Jackson under center, but finding consistency at wideout has also been an issue. Marquise Brown showed great flashes last year, and fellow rookie Boykin was also a viable deep threat. The Ravens just need Boykin to show up more often after recording only 13 games last year.

 
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Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, QB
David Butler II / USA Today Sports Images

Buffalo continues to surround Allen with everything he needs to succeed, acquiring star wideout Stefon Diggs in the offseason. Allen did take a nice step forward last season, going 10-6 during the regular season with over 3,000 yards passing, but his 58.8 completion rate and 6.7 yards per attempt were still mediocre. Entering his third year, it's time for Allen to make the leap.

 
5 of 32

Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, LB

Carolina Panthers: Shaq Thompson, LB
Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images

The Panthers lost Luke Kuechly and James Bradberry, among others, from their 2019 defense. They spent their entire 2020 draft on defensive players, meaning that the new defense will be looking for leadership. Entering his sixth NFL season, Thompson is now one of the elder statesmen on the Panthers and coming off a career year in which he recorded 109 tackles. There will be even more pressure on Thompson this year if the Panthers want to compete.

 
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Chicago Bears: David Montgomery, RB

Chicago Bears: David Montgomery, RB
Mike Dinovo / USA Today Sports Images

Montgomery was reliable in his rookie season but not productive enough. He gets a pass running behind a banged up offensive line, but Montgomery averaged only 3.7 yards per carry for the season. With Nick Foles possibly making the passing game more explosive, Montgomery also needs to do his share in his sophomore season.

 
7 of 32

Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR

Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR
Kareem Elgazzar / USA Today Sports Images

The start of Green's career was one of the best in NFL history, with five consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and seven straight Pro Bowls. Unfortunately, he's been plagued by injuries over the last two years, playing only nine games in 2018 and failing to take the field last season. Cincinnati has wide receiver depth, but they're counting on Green to lead the way and help rookie quarterback Joe Burrow along.

 
8 of 32

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB

Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield, QB
Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports Images

After a very good rookie season, Mayfield was a mess in 2019. He failed to meet expectations despite the addition of Odell Beckham, throwing 21 interceptions en route to a 6-10 regular season. His poor play was one of the reasons Freddie Kitchens was fired, and former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski took over. With major additions along the offensive line, the expectations for Mayfield are sky high in his third season.

 
9 of 32

Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB

Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB
Jerome Miron / USA Today Sports Images

Dallas showed a dominant run defense in 2018, and Vander Esch's performance was a big reason. They regressed last year as Vander Esch played only nine games due to a neck injury. His return will be important for a defense that had major losses in free agency.

 
10 of 32

Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB

Denver Broncos: Drew Lock, QB
John Glaser / USA Today Sports Images

Denver was satisfied with Lock's five starts in his rookie season, going 4-1 with seven touchdown passes. The team worked to help him in the offseason by signing Melvin Gordon and drafting wideouts Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler. With the new weapons, Lock has much higher expectations entering his sophomore campaign.

 
11 of 32

Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB

Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, LB
Raj Mehta / USA Today Sports Images

Detroit's defense has underperformed since Matt Patricia took over two years ago. They added more pieces in the offseason, but they also need the holdovers to play better. Davis played only 11 games last season at the key middle linebacker spot and needs to get back to his 2018 level (100 tackles, six sacks) for Detroit's defense to reach its goals.

 
12 of 32

Green Bay Packers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR

Green Bay Packers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR
USA Today Sports Images

There's immense pressure on Valdes-Scantling entering his third NFL season as the likely No. 2 wideout after offseason addition Devin Funchess opted out. Aaron Rodgers struggled to find viable weapons last year, and Valdes-Scantling also regressed in his second year.

 
13 of 32

Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR

Houston Texans: Will Fuller, WR
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Houston moved on from DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason, trading him to Arizona. While the team added Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb, it's Fuller that's most capable of filling Hopkins' shoes. Houston has been a different offense with Fuller on the field over the last two seasons, but he's played a total of 18 games due to injuries. Both Fuller and the Texans could use better health this year.

 
14 of 32

Indianapolis Colts: Parris Campbell, WR

Indianapolis Colts: Parris Campbell, WR
Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images

Indy's offense sputtered last year, and part of their issues were wide receiver injuries. Campbell had a forgettable rookie season due to injuries, appearing in only seven games, but he will be counting on along with rookie Michael Pittman Jr. to make big strides for new quarterback Philip Rivers.

 
15 of 32

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gardner Minshew, QB

Jacksonville Jaguars: Gardner Minshew, QB
Douglas DeFelice / USA Today Sports Images

The pressure is on Minshew going into his second season after the Jaguars traded Nick Foles. Minshew is the unquestioned starter for the Jags following an impressive rookie season, and a loss of defensive talent makes Minshew's development even more important.

 
16 of 32

Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB

Kansas City Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB
Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports Images

Damien Williams was arguably the best player on the Chiefs offense during their Super Bowl run last year, but he's opted out of the 2020 season. First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire was set to share playing time, but now will be the likely full-time running back for the Chiefs offense. A gifted receiver, Edwards-Helaire is a perfect fit for Andy Reid's offense but will have big shoes to fill. 

 
17 of 32

Las Vegas Raiders: Clelin Ferrell, DE

Las Vegas Raiders: Clelin Ferrell, DE
Darren Yamashita / USA Today Sports Images

The Raiders made Ferrell their top draft choice in 2019, and he was considered an overdraft by some evaluators. He had a relatively quiet rookie season with 4.5 sacks, while fourth rounder Maxx Crosby recorded 10 sacks. The Raiders pass rush needs more from Ferrell as the defense continues to develop in 2020.

 
18 of 32

Los Angeles Chargers: Tyrod Taylor, QB

Los Angeles Chargers: Tyrod Taylor, QB
Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images

The Chargers have a very talented roster heading into 2020, but quarterback is the clear weak link. The team drafted first-round pick Justin Herbert, though he's unlikely to be ready to fill Philip Rivers' shoes. For a team ready to win now, Taylor is a better bet to win now with a career 23-21-1 record as a game manager in Buffalo and Cleveland. At the very least, the Chargers could use Taylor to transition to Herbert when the rookie is more ready later in the year.

 
19 of 32

Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB

Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff, QB
Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images

The Rams were a top offense in 2017 and 2018, but saw regression last year partially due to Goff's play. Granted, Goff had less support around him with a downgraded offensive line and injury issues from Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks, but his stats plunged with 22/16 TD/INT and only 7.4 yards per pass attempt. In arguably the league's toughest division, the Rams need Goff to bounce back.

 
20 of 32

Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DE

Miami Dolphins: Christian Wilkins, DE
Steve Mitchell / USA Today Sports Images

Miami made several notable additions on defense during the offseason, but Wilkins remains a young building block. Wilkins had a relatively quiet rookie season with 56 tackles and only two sacks, but should have more opportunities to rush the passer in his second season.

 
21 of 32

Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson, WR

Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson, WR
Brian Spurlock / USA Today Sports Images

Minnesota traded star wide receiver Stefon Diggs for a first-round pick, and spent one of their first rounders on his replacement. Jefferson was an incredibly productive wideout last season at LSU, but the jump to the NFL is never easy. Minnesota needs Jefferson show up in his rookie season to maintain what has become a very good offense.

 
22 of 32

New England Patriots: Cam Newton, QB

New England Patriots: Cam Newton, QB
Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images

The Patriots finally moved on from Tom Brady and signed Newton late in the offseason. The former MVP in Carolina will have a chance to replace Brady this season, and the pressure is immense on a team that lost significant talent, including six season opt-outs in late July. Newton took a low money deal after missing most of last season due to a foot injury, so it remains to be seen if he can deliver.

 
23 of 32

New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, DE

New Orleans Saints: Marcus Davenport, DE
Jake Roth / USA Today Sports Images

The Saints traded up in the 2018 draft for Davenport, but his production hasn't quite been what the team hoped. He set a career high with 6.5 sacks in 13 games last season, and New Orleans needs him to continue his progression in his third year.

 
24 of 32

New York Giants: Leonard Williams, DE

New York Giants: Leonard Williams, DE
Brad Penner / USA Today Sports Images

The Giants acquired Williams from the Jets last season, only for the former first-round pick to record a half-sack in eight games. They still brought him back on the franchise tag but need more push rush production this year.

 
25 of 32

New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB

New York Jets: Sam Darnold, QB
Mark Konezny / USA Today Sports Images

Darnold's transition to the NFL hasn't been as smooth as the Jets hoped, but he did make clear progress under Adam Gase in his second season. Despite missing time early in the year due to mono, he threw for more than 3,000 yards and 19 touchdowns in 13 games. With improvements along the offensive line, the Jets expect the offense to take another step forward with Darnold this year.

 
26 of 32

Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE

Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE
Mark Konezny / USA Today Sports Images

Philadelphia's pass rush was key to their Super Bowl run three years ago, but it has dropped off since then. Barnett was the team's first-round pick in 2017 but hasn't produced the sack numbers expected yet, capping out at 6.5 sacks in 14 games last season. The team obviously has huge hopes for Barnett, picking up his fifth-year option this offseason, but could use a breakout season from him in 2020.

 
27 of 32

Pittsburgh Steelers: James Conner, RB

Pittsburgh Steelers: James Conner, RB
Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports Images

After stepping in nicely for Le'Veon Bell in 2019, Conner struggled last season. In fairness, part of his struggles were due to the lack of a passing game, but Conner also played only 10 games due to injury and averaged just 46 rushing yards per game when he did play. Going into a walk year, both team and player could use more production.

 
28 of 32

San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR

San Francisco 49ers: Brandon Aiyuk, WR
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Aiyuk already had big shoes to fill in his rookie season after the 49ers allowed Emmanuel Sanders to walk in free agency. A foot injury to breakout 2019 rookie Deebo Samuel potentially makes Aiyuk San Francisco's No. 1 wideout in his rookie season. That's not a preferable situation for San Francisco, but the hope is that Aiyuk can be worthy of his first round status immediately.

 
29 of 32

Seattle Seahawks: L.J. Collier, DE

Seattle Seahawks: L.J. Collier, DE
Joe Nicholson / USA Today Sports Images

Seattle really struggled rushing the passer last year after trading Frank Clark, and Collier was almost a no-show in his rookie season after being drafted in the first round. With the loss of Jadeveon Clowney in the offseason, Collier is set to have a huge role in his second year.

 
30 of 32

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones, RB

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronald Jones, RB
Steven Bisig / USA Today Sports Images

The Bucs have been the story of the offseason with their offensive additions, most notably Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. Still, the team needs a running game to support Brady. Jones has made a lot of young player errors in his first two seasons, but he remains the likely starter in the backfield.

 
31 of 32

Tennessee Titans: Jeffery Simmons, DE

Tennessee Titans: Jeffery Simmons, DE
Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports Images

The Titans moved on from long-time defensive star Jurrell Casey in the offseason, and Simmons' potential is one reason. Returning from injury last year, he recorded 32 tackles and two sacks in only nine regular season games. The Mississippi State alum shows huge potential and will be counted on to prove it this year.

 
32 of 32

Washington Football Team: Dwayne Haskins, QB

Washington Football Team: Dwayne Haskins, QB
Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports Images

Washington's entire team was a mess in 2019. That included the play they got from Haskins at quarterback. While he got a pass for mediocre play in his rookie season, the team needs Haskins to show more in his second season with a new coaching staff.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.



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