With the second week of NFL preseason games wrapping up, we are rapidly moving closer to the start of the 2021 NFL regular season. This season, there will be plenty of players looking to prove themselves. Players are looking to prove they are still among the best at their position despite injuries, such as Jadeveon Clowney or a veteran looking to stay healthy in a leading role, such as Austin Ekeler. Rookies, such as Trey Lance, are awaiting their time to step into the starting lineup and using preseason as the avenue to showcase their skills.
The upcoming season is expected to be very competitive and entertaining. Quite a few teams made major improvements to their roster this offseason.
What can we expect from the three players mentioned above this season? Here are some predictions for Clowney, Lance, and Ekeler in 2021.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Cleveland Browns
Jadeveon Clowney entered the NFL with a ton of hype surrounding him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has had some explosive seasons, but injuries have derailed him at times.
Last season, Clowney played in only eight games with the Tennessee Titans and failed to record a single sack. The Cleveland Browns signed him in free agency and are hoping he can give them some production to help take this defense to the next level.
With an elite pass rusher opposite of him, Clowney should have some opportunities to get after the quarterback. He will remain relatively healthy this season, playing in 14 games and recording seven sacks as the bookend to Myles Garrett.
Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers traded away a haul to move up to the No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to select Trey Lance out of North Dakota State. But, he will have to wait his turn when it comes to being the starting quarterback.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan originally stated that veteran Jimmy Garoppolo would be the starting quarterback Week 1 and that does not look to have changed through two preseason games.
Lance will eventually be the starter but will have to settle for specific packages at the start of the season. He will end the season with 2,500 passing yards and 500 rushing yards, adding 16 total touchdowns and seven turnovers.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Austin Ekeler enters 2021 with some monster upside. As long as he can remain healthy, he is going to put up some gaudy numbers for a Los Angeles Chargers team that looks to have one of the stronger offensive units in the NFL.
Los Angeles invested in fixing their offensive line this offseason, which will help take the offense to another level. With reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert under center as well, this offense is going places.
Ekeler is as good as they get as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, giving the Chargers’ offense some real versatility. Remaining healthy this season, Ekeler will have a career-high 175 for 825 yards and four scores. He will add over 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards with another six scores, becoming one of the breakout running backs of the season.