In a four-part series on NFL.com that has so far included running backs, edge rushers and wide receivers, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally saw their first player named among the list of projected breakout candidates for 2019 on Wednesday.
While there was no love from the likes of Willie McGinest for the team’s young pass rushers or Terrell Davis for the Steelers stable of running backs, it appears that former Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne is expecting big things from James Washington this year.
Wide Receivers Set For A BREAKOUT 2019 Season:— NFL (@NFL) June 27, 2019
3-7. https://t.co/Q9pWHWkCKk (via @ReggieWayne_17) pic.twitter.com/NGdcY5wJOP
And with Wayne focusing on receivers still playing under their rookie contract, his inclusion of Washington was something of a no brainer, as the 14 year veteran would explain.
“There are a lot of factors working in Washington’s favor heading into the coming season. With Antonio Brown’s departure, JuJu Smith-Schuster will attract attention as the team’s new WR1. Washington will get plenty of chances to make big plays against single coverage opposite JuJu. Plus, we know Ben Roethlisberger likes to sling it, and this is Washington’s second year in the offensive system. Expectations are high for everyone in Pittsburgh, and it’s up to the 2018 second-rounder to solidify his spot for years to come.”
Other notable names on the list included Kenny Golladay of the Detroit Lions, a player who some might argue has already had a breakout year after recording 70 receptions for 1063 yards in 2018, Will Fuller of the Houston Texans and Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers among a group of seven young wide receivers.
Given the talent around him and the quarterback throwing him the ball, it would be fair to say that Washington might have ones of the better chances of a breakout season from the list of names that Wayne highlights. However, like many other experts this offseason, it seems that the former Colts star is overlooking the potential of his former teammate Donte Moncrief.
As much as Washington is sure to be more heavily involved with the offense in 2019, it would not be a surprise if Moncrief began the year as the starter and saw a considerable amount of playing time ahead of the second-year receiver.