With the NFL season just a few months away, it’s time to look at which players could become stars for their respective teams.
Ah, the NFL offseason. Where hope springs eternal. Where every team is Super Bowl champion in the hearts and minds of their fans.
As we trudge along through the last months of what has been an eventful offseason, many teams are set to count on a small handful of players as their franchise cornerstones. But it’s the play of their role players that will ultimately decide the fate of their season. It’s the breakout players like Alvin Kamara, Tarik Cohen, or Kareem Hunt, that help their respective teams achieve success.
So, without further ado, here’s a look at one player from each NFL team who could be ready to vault themselves into the spotlight with breakout 2018 seasons.
Arizona Cardinals – Budda Baker
Much of the fanfare for the Arizona Cardinals heading into this season will understandably surround the quarterback position, but don’t discount what the development of second-year safety Budda Baker can do for the team’s playoff chances.
New head coach Steve Wilks has kept much of the plans for Arizona’s new defensive scheme under wraps, but Baker figures to have a much bigger role than in his rookie campaign under Bruce Arians. The team deciding to part ways with Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu could also one of the biggest indicators of the team’s faith in Baker.
One thing that is for certain? The Cardinals figure to employ a much more aggressive defense than the team has seen in recent years. Wilks’ Panthers defense blitzed on 44-percent of defensive snaps last season, the highest rate in the NFL. If the Cards can get continued development out of their front seven, including 2017 first-round pick Haason Reddick, it could free up their secondary to make big plays.
Wilks has an excellent track record of developing talent in the defensive backfield during his time in the NFL and Budda Baker could very well be the next player in line to flourish in his aggressive system.