1 Breakout Player From Each NFC West Team For 2024 NFL Season

Kobie Turner, Los Angeles Rams
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Just about everyone expects the San Francisco 49ers to win the NFC West yet again in 2024, and that’s understandable. After all, the 49ers are loaded.

But the fact of the matter is that this is a very good division overall.

The Los Angeles Rams are considered dark horse Super Bowl contenders by some, the Seattle Seahawks should at least make a push for a playoff spot again and the Arizona Cardinals should absolutely be better next season with a healthy Kyler Murray.

No, it’s not exactly the AFC North, but it’s still a tough division, and it should be fun to watch this fall.

Here is one player from each NFC West squad to monitor for a breakout season in 2024.

Arizona Cardinals: Michael Wilson, WR.

Most people would probably roll with tight end Trey McBride for this spot, but in my personal opinion, he already broke out in 2023 with 81 receptions for 825 yards and three touchdowns.

Michael Wilson, on the other hand, had a much more modest stat line last season, catching 38 passes for 565 yards and three scores. Keep in mind: much of that came with Murray sidelined.

Now that Murray is back for a full season, except the Cardinals’ aerial attack to improve, and Wilson should be one of the biggest beneficiaries.

Arizona took Marvin Harrison Jr. with the fourth overall pick of the NFL Draft in April, so most of the attention will be on him. That’s good news for Wilson, who may be able to sneak up on opposing defenses as a dependable No. 2 receiver for Murray.

Wilson has terrific size at 6-foot-2 and around 215 pounds, and he developed as a route runner during his rookie campaign last year. Had it not been for persistent injury issues at Stanford, he probably would have gone much higher than the third round in 2023.

Keep an eye on Wilson. He could end up having a huge year with defenses so focused on Harrison, and Murray has already developed a bit of a rapport with him.

The only potential downside is Wilson’s durability, as he also missed four games this past year.

Los Angeles Rams: Kobie Turner, DL.

With Aaron Donald retired, it’s up to someone else on the Rams’ defense to take center stage.

Why not Kobie Turner?

Turner enjoyed a spectacular rookie campaign in 2023, racking up 57 tackles and nine sacks. Not bad for a third-round pick.

Of course, an argument can be made that Donald opened up Turner for easier paths to opposing quarterbacks, and Turner only logged two sacks in one season at Wake Forest before entering the NFL Draft (he had previously transferred over from Richmond).

That being said, the tape demonstrates that Turner is a very talented pass rusher who could end up rattling off double-digit sacks in 2024.

He also has edge rusher Byron Young alongside of him to take on blockers, so between the two of them, Los Angeles’ front seven should be just fine, even without Donald.

San Francisco 49ers: Ji’Ayir Brown, S.

The 49ers have opted not to re-sign safety Tashaun Gipson, which opens the door for Ji’Ayir Brown to become a full-time starter in 2024.

Brown did make five starts last season following a season-ending injury to Talanoa Hufanga, and when he was on the field, he was impressive, totaling 35 tackles, a couple of interceptions and four passes defended.

The 24-year-old ended up posting a very eye-opening 77.9 grade at Pro Football Focus, putting him in some pretty cushy company.

Of course, it remains to be seen how Brown performs as a starter over the course of a full season, but based on what we saw from him in 2023, it seems relatively safe to say that he will be just fine.

San Francisco’s pass defense was actually fairly ordinary last year, ranking 14th in the NFL. Perhaps Brown can represent a major upgrade over Gipson and help elevate the Niners’ secondary this autumn.

Hopefully, Hufanga can fully recover from his torn ACL to provide some help for Brown in 2024.

Seattle Seahawks: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR.

This one was easy.

Smith-Njigba showed plenty of flashes during his rookie campaign, hauling in 63 receptions for 628 yards and four touchdowns. He also got much stronger as the season progressed.

The 22-year-old was so impressive this past year, as a matter of fact, that some have speculated that the Seahawks could end up trading fellow wide receiver Tyler Lockett to open more targets for him.

Smith-Njigba is playing alongside of D.K. Metcalf, who will capture most of the attention in 2024. Heck, say what you want about Lockett, but he can still play, too.

The talent and depth of Seattle’s receiving corps should allow Smith-Njigba to break free for some easy targets in his sophomore season, and while Geno Smith is not exactly Patrick Mahomes, he is at least serviceable enough to put the ball where it needs to be.

Smith-Njigba may not end up registering 1,000 yards thanks to all of the competition for targets in the Seahawks’ aerial attack, but look for him to have a more impactful season in 2024.

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