On last weeks podcast of The Scho Bro Show, we were tasked with listing our top five players who we feel are ready to take their game to the next level in 2021.
For this exercise, we each came up with our own top five list counting down to the most likely candidate. Because they have no baseline yet in the NFL, rookies were ineligible for the list. For each number, we will highlight the players both Rich (Big Bro Scho) and myself (Dave) chose at each ranking with a brief explanation as to why we felt this player could take a big step in the 2021 season.
5. Dave: Kevin Dotson
Rich: Minkah Fitzpatrick
I almost left Dotson completely off the list but then decided to include him in the final spot. It’s not that I expect Kevin Dotson to play any better in 2021 than he did in 2020. In fact, I would be more than happy with the same quality of play. The biggest thing with Dotson is he’s going to have to do it every play of every game rather than just the occasional spot start. That’s what’s going to make it an improvement.
As for Rich’s choice of Minkah Fitzpatrick, he’s looking for him to not necessarily play better but perhaps have more opportunity for splash plays where he can have more passes defensed and interceptions in order to pad the stats which some care so much about.
4. Dave: James Washington
Rich: Kevin Dotson
Out of all the Steelers receivers, I see James Washington with the biggest room to make a jump as he often seems to be the forgotten man in the room. As long as Washington gets the opportunity, I could see him becoming a bigger threat in 2021 as he is in a contract year. When it comes to Rich’s choice of Dotson, he echoed just about everything I had said in the previous spot but just had him one position higher.
3. Dave: James Pierre
Rich: James Pierre
With us both putting the same player in the same position, we ultimately went with James Pierre at cornerback over the choice of Cameron Sutton. Having an idea what the Steelers are getting with Sutton, Pierre has the chance to come out of nowhere in the eyes of others around the NFL and make a big difference in 2021. If Pierre shows the Steelers can’t afford to keep him on the sidelines, he could be the answer to the question some have at the cornerback position.
2. Dave: Chuks Okorafor
Rich: Alex Highsmith
My choice to put Chuks Okorafor in the number two spot has everything to do with the situation he will be presented with in 2021. Going into a contract year where he is set to move to the position he supposedly is best suited for at left tackle, it’s do or die time for Okorafor to show he’s an NFL caliber tackle. For this choice, it’s more about having the most opportunity to make the jump and the optimism that he’ll step up to the plate.
Rich placed Alex Highsmith in the second spot as he will hit the ground running in 2021 as the outside linebacker opposite of T.J. Watt. After coming in to replace the injured Bud Dupree, the Steelers now have the luxury of the offseason to design what they want to do on the defensive front for Highsmith’s strengths rather than asking him to come in and do exactly what they wanted from Dupree.
1. Dave: Alex Highsmith
Rich: Chase Claypool
Both Rich and I were very high on Alex Highsmith, and I put him in my top spot not only because for all the reasons Rich mentioned, but for the fact that he’s shown up to OTAs looking absolutely ripped and ready to go for 2021. Highsmith just seems to be the kind of player that is ready for his opportunity and not going to throw away his shot.
After I left him completely off my list, Rich actually really sold me on the idea of Chase Claypool making a big jump in 2021. I felt Claypool‘s production as a rookie didn’t leave room for massive improvements, but Rich sees Claypool making the second-year leap and exploding onto the scene as one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
So there are the top five lists of players who could see a big jump in production in 2021 both by myself and my big brother Rich. How do you think we did? Which one do you agree with more? What would your top five list be? Make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below!
If you would like to listen to the breakdown from The Scho Bro Show podcast, they can be heard below.