It won’t be long before the NFL 2021/22 season gets underway, with the official start taking place on September 9th. The defending Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, begin the official proceedings.
You don’t have to wait until Week 1 to begin following the action, however: each team will play three pre-season games before the regular season begins. Many pundits and fans have been tipping the 49ers in the NFL betting, with many believing they have a very favorable schedule.
One thing about football, though, is that it not only produces surprising moments but also marvelous individual performances throughout the season. Players make a true name for themselves. Below is a look at some of football’s rising stars.
Kyle Pitts (Atlanta Falcons)
In the opener last season for the Gators, Kyle Pitts put on a masterclass, making a huge case for tight end 1 against “Ole Miss.” Eight passes caught for 170 yards and four touchdowns is a commanding start.
Pitts is as exciting in the red zone as he is in space. He’s athletic, fast, and large. In fact, he’s too big for most defensive backs, and he’s too fast for most linebackers. His powerful passing game means he’s going to be dominant in the attack, and the Falcons will certainly overlook the fact he’s not going to be the most amazing defensive blocker when they see how much he can boost an offense.
Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is considered one of the best college quarterbacks of all time and was a top prospect in the 2021 draft. Some predicted he’d be one of the best players in the NFL by spring of 2022.
Tall and athletic, Lawrence is a winner and a competitor through and through. In all three of his seasons, he led Clemson to the playoffs, and he also won a national title. Even when he had a date scheduled with the surgeon for his left shoulder, his non-throwing shoulder, he came out a month before the pro day to show people what he was made off.
Then there’s his throwing arm, which is strong and produces fast, accurate throwing. This player is no one-trick pony and displays an outstanding all-around game. You might want him for his throwing, but he can really motor up the field when he wants to.
Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)
Perhaps the most unpleasant tasting of all pies is humble pie, and Kyler Murray’s performance in the NFL has served up some huge slices to a lot of people. Murray’s height (5’10”) had lots of people saying he was too short to start as a quarterback in the NFL, but he can rush and throw with the best of them. He was also 2019’s Rookie of the Year.
Just like Trevor Lawrence, Murray isn’t the type of quarterback who just makes big throws downfield; he can extend plays with his legs. Leadership qualities abound in him, too. In his sophomore year, he led four fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives.
The Cardinals have placed strong offensive support around Murray and also some good defensive support. Basically, he has the players around him to help him truly stand out. This could be his true breakout season.
Justin Fields (Chicago Bears)
Dual-threat quarterbacks are the players to draft when it comes to finding a quarterback. In April of this year, the Chicago Bears drafted Justin Fields from Ohio State — and what a phenomenal player they’ve gained. Fields completed two seasons with the Buckeyes, and both seasons were enough for him to quarterback the team to the Big Ten title, an undefeated regular season, and a berth in the College Playoff. Along with these feats, he also received Big Ten offensive player of the year and first-team all-conference.
Fields has the heart of a competitor and will do whatever it takes to win. He demonstrated this as a junior in 2020. In a national semifinal contest versus Clemson, he took a hard hit that resulted in a painful injury. You can’t keep a good man down, though. He played through it and, eventually, led the Buckeyes to a 49-28 win.
Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
What a time to be alive if you’re a Ravens fan! Quarterback Lamar Jackson is the man and recognized as one of the major rising stars in the NFL. Last season, the Ravens went into the bye week with a 5-1 record. That was one highlight. The other was Jackson rallying the team to a 47-42 victory against the Browns in Week 14, part of a five-game winning streak that carried the Ravens to the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Jackson, he’s still got a lot of detractors despite winning the MVP award two seasons ago. That’s partly due to his passer rating dropping by 14 points from 2019 to 2020. Last season, he rushed 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s no mean feat, so maybe the critics might want to cut him some slack.
The grid will always bring drama and surprises, but also amazing talent for fans to enjoy. Above are some of the rising stars in the sport. The future looks bright for them and, by extension, for the sport!