Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders are coming into the 2021 NFL season looking to finally make the jump into the playoffs. After a couple of years where they showed promise but came up short, the Raiders feel like they have a good chance to make some noise in the AFC this year.
Once again, the Raiders were aggressive during the offseason. They were able to add some key players in Yannick Ngakoue, Kenyan Drake, John Brown, and Casey Hayward. Bringing in all four of those guys will give the Raiders a nice boost.
Looking ahead to the 2021 campaign, the Raiders are in a tough division and have their work cut out for them. Both the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers are going to be tough opponents and the Denver Broncos aren’t a slouch of a team either. All three teams in the division behind the Chiefs will compete for a Wild Card spot.
All of that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at three players who are poised to have a breakout season for the Raiders this year.
3. Yannick Ngakoue, Defensive End
Let’s start this by saying that Ngakoue is a very good player already and that we aren’t discounting anything he did last year. In fact, he racked up eight sacks and four forced fumbles during the 2020 season with the Baltimore Ravens. However, he is poised to take his game to new heights this year.
We are predicting that Ngakoue will end up recording 14 sacks to go along with five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and an interception.
Those numbers would make Ngakoue one of the most productive pass-rushers in the NFL. He has true superstar talent and that will shine through in 2021 with the Raiders. Las Vegas wanted to make a splash to improve their pass-rush, which is exactly what Ngakoue will be able to do for them.
2. John Brown, Wide Receiver
One of the big free agency additions for the Raiders came at the wide receiver position. Brown is fresh off of a two-year stint with the Buffalo Bills, although his numbers were way down last year than they were in 2019.
Brown ended up catching 33 passes for 458 yards and three touchdowns during the 2020 campaign. He took a back seat due to the addition of Stefon Diggs. With the Raiders, however, he will be a primary target for Derek Carr and will put up massive production for the Raiders.
We are predicting that Brown will catch 55 passes for 800 yards and seven touchdowns. He is going to be a constant big-play threat for Las Vegas and his numbers will reflect that.
1. Henry Ruggs III, Wide Receiver
We’re going to keep things at the wide receiver position for the top breakout candidate on this list. Henry Ruggs III was a disappointment in his rookie season with the Raiders. He only caught 26 passes for 452 yards and two touchdowns.
After being selected with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, fans were expecting to see much more from him. Well, they’re going to see much more in his second NFL season. Ruggs is going to put on a show.
Ruggs will end up with over 80 receptions for 1,200 yards and at least nine touchdowns in 2021. The Raiders have a true No. 1 wide receiver talent and they are going to utilize him much better this season. Las Vegas will see their offense improve leaps and bounds past what it was last year and Ruggs will be a huge part of that improvement.