The Dallas Cowboys are heading into the 2020 season with several new faces looking to make a jump.
After an offseason where the Dallas Cowboys lost several starters to free agency, some players will be required to take a leap in production on the field if the Cowboys want to be Super Bowl contenders in the upcoming season.
There are five players who stick out as possibilities to take their game to the next level in the 2020 NFL season. Here are the top five ‘breakout’ candidates for 2020:
Chidobe Awuzie, CB
After the Cowboys lost star cornerback Byron Jones to the Miami Dolphins in free agency, the team will be looking for a player to step up as the number one corner. Chidobe Awuzie could come forth as that player for the Cowboys in 2020.
Awuzie has three career interceptions over the course of his three-year career in Dallas. The cornerback had some bad moments in 2019, but with a completely new coaching staff and more pressure being put on him, Awuzie is a player who could prove his former 2nd round pick value by taking the next step in becoming a good number one corner in the league.
Blake Jarwin, TE
Former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten surprised many this offseason by choosing to leave the Cowboys for the Las Vegas Raiders in free agency. Many analysts expected the Cowboys to address their tight end need in the draft or in free agency, but the team decided to extend backup tight end Blake Jarwin to a three-year extension to remain in Dallas.
Jarwin is a player who has shown potential as a backup in Dallas, having several impressive games, but not having the chance to prove he can be a three-down starter in the NFL. 2020 is his chance to show what he can do as the clear leader in the thin position group.
Xavier Woods, S
When the Cowboys drafted safety Xavier Woods with the 191st pick in the NFL draft, they saw potential from a hard-hitting, ball-hawking safety out of Louisiana Tech University. Woods seemed like a great value pick, but not necessarily seen by many as a player who could make plays as a starting safety on an NFL roster.
Woods has already exceeded his expectations as a sixth-round pick in the draft. He has started 29 games over the last two seasons, and over his three-season career, he has 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Woods could look to take his game to the next level with a defense emphasized more on creating turnovers in 2020.
Tony Pollard, RB
Backup running back Tony Pollard had an impressive rookie season for the Cowboys in 2019. Although he only had 455 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns, he was able to make the most of his opportunities behind a workhorse in running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Pollard seemed to always break a big play when running the ball last season, likely from the physical damage the defense takes from Elliott throughout the ball game.
Hopefully, with new head coach Mike McCarthy, Pollard will become more involved throughout the entire game, not just at the end, and have a larger impact on receiving plays. The Cowboys could have one of the most talented running back tandems in the NFL for the foreseeable future.
Aldon Smith, DE
This may be seen as more of a ‘comeback story’ than a ‘breakout story’, as defensive end Aldon Smith has already broken out onto the NFL scene, recording 33.5 sacks in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Although he was once looked at as the next all-time great NFL pass rusher, Smith fell into substance abuse and was indefinitely suspended by the NFL in 2015.
After signing with the Cowboys and being reinstated by the NFL, Smith looks to make his return to the NFL stage. With defensive end Robert Quinn leaving in free agency, Smith has a starting spot to claim on the opposite edge of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, where he can break out and have a successful and inspiring season.