There are players who break out each year in the NFL and take that step from being a consistent contributor to becoming a star. For the Washington Football Team, there are plenty who have already reached that elite level.
Chase Young -- star. Terry McLaurin -- star. Jonathan Allen. Landon Collins. Daron Payne. The list goes on and on.
In 2021, Adam Rank of NFL.com expects WFT's next rising to be ... Montez Sweat.
"Young is obviously the headliner of the defense, but let's not overlook the rest of the group. Those guys will pop up and have their Sundays in the spotlight. It's kind of like when you go to a comedy club and the feature act is funnier than the headliner. I'm not saying this happened when I saw Tom Segura open for Jay Mohr. But I'm also not not saying that. Mostly because I would still love to open for Jay or Tom at some point. Sweat was very good during his rookie season, but he bettered his numbers during his sophomore campaign, which shouldn't come as a surprise at all. He's going to improve on those numbers again this season."
While this may be true, an argument can be made that Sweat is already there.
Sweat has started all 32 games in his career since being taken with the 26th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He burst onto the scene as a rookie and showed great potential because of his size and speed. During his second year, Sweat continued to improve and compiled some star-quality statistics.
In 2020, he produced 45 tackles, nine sacks, 12 tackles-for-loss, 20 quarterback hits, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, one interception and one touchdown. Sweat proved to be effective against the run, but excelled at getting to the quarterback and wrecking game plans.
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One of the reasons for his improvement? Having a productive partner.
Sweat faced many double teams during his rookie year. The presence of Young brought that second or third blocker to the other side, which allowed Sweat to dominate against single coverage. This allowed him to take that next step during his second season.
If the WFT is looking for another breakout star, Kamren Curl could be that player.
A case could be made that Curl was the steal of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was taken in the seventh round out of Arkansas and made 11 starts. Curl was a huge factor when Collins went down with a torn Achilles, totaling 88 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks and a touchdown.
Curl has solidified himself as a starter in the secondary in 2021, even with Collins returning. This will only help his progress further. Washington made additions in the secondary at cornerback with William Jackson III and Benjamin St-Juste. Curl could continue to improve the unit if he is able to become this breakout star.
Washington has high expectations heading into 2021 after an NFC East title last season. There is no doubt that the defense will carry the WFT to where they want to be, and Curl - the newest star - will be a huge part of it.
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