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2022 NFL Season: 3 Players Who Might Regress in 2nd Year

  • JB Butler
  • May 26, 2022
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Let’s travel back to 2018 when former Oklahoma star Baker Mayfield had the makings of an elite quarterback. After being selected first overall in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield’s rookie year showed promise for his future. He started in 13 games, and in those appearances, he threw for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns (which is still his career-high). He won six of those starts. 

Though Mayfield lost more games than he won, he did win more games in his first season than the Browns had over the three previous years, and he had the league buzzing about his potential and swagger. Then his sophomore year happened. After his record-setting rookie year, Mayfield’s touchdown total decreased to 22, and his interception total jumped to 21. Though he was able to win a playoff game in 2020, his sophomore slump revealed the type of player Mayfield will likely be for the rest of his career.

In this post, I look at players heading into their second year in 2022 who could take a step backward.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

St. Brown was an exciting and explosive piece of Detroit’s passing game, but many of his big games came down the season’s final stretch. He had more than 70 receiving yards in each of the last six games, after only hitting that mark once in the first eleven weeks. 

With a healthy T.J. Hockensen and the additions of receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Jameson Williams, St. Brown will have to share touches with players better than Kalif Raymond and Brock Wright (who both started for the Lions at the end of 2021). 

Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Mitchell was one of the biggest surprises of last season; the sixth-round pick lit the league up for San Francisco, rushing for 963 yards and five touchdowns. Despite being in a room with Raheem Mostert, Wayne Gallman, and Trey Sermon, who was a third-round pick in the same draft, Mitchell carved out a significant role for himself. 

However, Mitchell’s role significantly increased due to injuries, highlighted by Deebo Samuel finishing second in rushing yards for the team. With Jeff Wilson Jr, JaMycal Hasty, and Trey Sermon all entering the year healthy and the addition of Tyrion Davis-Price in the draft, Mitchell may find himself lost in the shuffle in a deep backfield.

Devonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

Smith entered the league as electrifying as you would expect a Heisman winner to be; Smith led the Eagles in receiving yards with 916 yards and five touchdowns. And with quarterback Jalen Hurts’ best friend AJ Brown coming over from the Tennessee Titans, his role and usage are guaranteed to change. 

Smith had a productive year – he caught 64 of his 104 targets – but with their new room, those targets are sure to come down. The only way for Smith to produce while competing for targets with Brown and tight end Dallas Goedert is to maximize each one; if he doesn’t, his final stat line will suffer significantly.