Pro Football Focus this week released a list of second-year NFL breakout candidates.
Two former Clemson football stars made the list in Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins and Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons.
Higgins finished his rookie season in 2020 with 67 receptions for 908 yards and six touchdowns after being selected by the Bengals in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft with the No. 33 overall pick.
“There are few receivers getting as much breakout buzz as Tee Higgins,” PFF’s Zach Tantillo wrote in his article. “Bengals teammates and coaches have raved about his improvement this offseason, and following the departure of former star wideout A.J. Green, he is primed to explode in 2021. PFF’s projections forecast Higgins to rack up more receiving yards (1,172) than Michael Thomas, Julio Jones and Allen Robinson II in 2021.”
As for Simmons, a first-round pick of the Cardinals in the 2020 NFL Draft (No. 8 overall), he completed his rookie campaign with 50 total tackles (39 solo), two sacks, two passes defensed, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
“There were always going to be growing pains when it came to Isaiah Simmons’ transition to the NFL, and that was apparent in 2020,” Tantillo wrote. “He was labeled a Swiss Army knife coming out of college after playing over 100 snaps on the defensive line, in the box and as a defensive back. That transition to the NFL was tough for Simmons, though, as is evident in his lackluster 59.9 PFF grade.”
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