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All-32 Series: NFC West’s Breakout Players for the 2018 Season

Written By- Team Blitz

Arizona Cardinals

Haason Reddick (LB)

During the 2017 pre-draft process, Haason Reddick darted up draft boards with his contagious personality, drive, and elite athletic ability. Reddick secured the fastest 40-time for all defensive lineman and linebackers at the 2017 NFL Combine, recording an impressive 4.52 second run while weighing 240 pounds. On top of his impressive 40 time, Reddick ranked top ten for the 3-cone, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle drills. Catapulting up draft boards, Reddick was selected by Arizona with the 13th pick in the 2017 Draft.

After starting his rookie year at inside linebacker after the injury to Deon Buchanan, Reddick was primed to take on a larger role within James Bettcher’s defensive system. The Temple prospect had the talent necessary to lead a team, playing inside linebacker and serving as a pass rusher in multiple sub-packages. However, once Markus Golden tore his ACL, Reddick was moved back to the outside to serve as depth behind Kareem Martin. If Arizona wants to make any type of push in a division that may turn out to be the best one by season’s end, Reddick will need to live up to his 13th overall selection. With as strong start and finish to the 2017 season Reddick has a foundation to build upon. As he enters the new season, watch the athletically gifted Hasson Reddick closely, as he will likely come out of the gate firing with a breakout sophomore campaign.

-Jason Feiner

Los Angeles Rams

Gerald Everett (TE)

Gerald Everett did what most rookie tight ends do– he struggled in his first season in the league. The former 2nd round pick was beat out by 4th rounder Tyler Higbee for playing time, but neither player cemented himself as the starter for 2018. Everett has the chance to come in and use his talent as a weapon in Sean McVay’s offense. He did have flashes in 2017, but will need to show his coaches more consistency. While there are a lot of mouths to feed in the LA offense, McVay would like to find what he had in Jordan Reed up in Washington. Everett can be that player in his offense and could make a great red-zone threat for Jared Goff. Everett could become a fan favorite quickly if he helps elevate the offense even more with quality play at the tight end position.

-Cody Manning

San Francisco 49ers

Jerick McKinnon (RB)

With Carlos Hyde no longer a San Francisco 49er, the team had to look elsewhere in free agency to fill the void left by the Ohio State running back. The team went with former Vikings backup Jerick McKinnon, who was a hot commodity on the free agent market, signing him to a 4-year deal worth up to $30 million. Though McKinnon has never rushed for more than 570 yards in a season, he is set up to have a ton of success in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system, which will accent his receiving skill set far more than Minnesota was able to.

McKinnon is expected to set career highs across the board with an increased workload. His 5 total touchdowns and 991 yards from scrimmage last year should rise quite a bit, but it won’t be without some stiff competition in the 49ers backfield. San Francisco has a stable of quality backs, including last year’s undrafted free agent Matt Breida, who had an impressive showing in his small role in the offense last season. 2016’s 4th round pick out of the University of Utah Joe Williams, who sat out the whole year with an ankle injury, will also challenge him. Williams has the highest ceiling out of any of the Niners backs with an impressive 4.41 40-time and a ridiculous college highlight reel. Mckinnon’s contract says he’ll be in line to be the starting back in SF, but he’ll have to outperform his teammates this offseason to secure the lead spot and not be just featured as a 3rd down back.

-Jack Bourgeois

Seattle Seahawks

Tyler Lockett (WR)

Let me just hit you with this real quick: 1,223 receiving yards and 16 TDs. Those are the combined stats of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson last year, who, let me remind you, are no longer with the team. To put those stats into perspective, the Seahawks had a total of 34 passing touchdowns while Russell Wilson threw for a total of 3,983 passing yards. With Graham and Richardson gone, we are talking about a loss of almost 50% of the team’s touchdowns and ⅓ of its receiving yards gone. Needless to say, there is a huge opening for someone to replace that production. The Seahawks do not have a TE on their roster that will come close to taking a chunk of that production, which leads me to my 2018 Seattle Seahawk breakout player, Tyler Lockett. Lockett posted an underwhelming stat line in 2017 with 555 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns, but keep in mind it was just December of 2016 when Lockett had surgery to repair his broken fibula AND tibia. I am no doctor, but some serious time is going to be needed to fully come back from an injury as horrendous as the one that Lockett suffered. For Lockett, there is no better time than now, as he finds himself in a contract year and a clear path to a starting role.

-James Davis

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