The eyes of many NFL observers will be on former BYU quarterback Zach Wilson this fall to see if he can make big improvements in his second season with the New York Jets after a pretty tough rookie year.
But earlier this week, Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus writing for ESPN identified another former Cougar entering his second season as a player who could have a breakout campaign in 2022. That would be Carolina Panthers offensive lineman Brady Christensen, who was the 70th pick in the 2021 draft (Wilson was taken second overall).
On Renner’s list of 15 players, Christensen came in at No. 14. Perhaps it should come as little surprise, as he was a favorite of PFF’s coming out of college.
“The Panthers’ coaching staff did Christensen’s development no favors last season,” Renner wrote. “After lining up at left tackle for 2,490 of his 2,522 career snaps at BYU, Christensen played four different positions for Carolina as a rookie. You might not be surprised to find out that he earned a 69.2 overall grade at left tackle and a 46.5 overall mark when lined up elsewhere.
“After the team’s offseason additions of Ikem Ekwonu, Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett to the offensive line, Christensen finally gets to focus his attention to one spot: left guard. Expect to see a much more consistent player because of it.”
Although Wilson was not formally on the list, he will impact the third player listed on it: Jets receiver Elijah Moore, the 34th player taken in 2021.
“Flip on the tape, and it’s clear Moore can get open,” Renner wrote. “Fellow rookie Zach Wilson simply couldn’t find him in rhythm enough. For the other Jets quarterbacks who filled in when Wilson went down for four weeks with a posterior cruciate ligament injury, finding Moore wasn’t a problem.”
Renner continued, “While that obviously means Moore’s breakout hinges heavily on Wilson showing considerably improved mastery of the offense in Year 2, it also means the breakout is imminent if Wilson does make that leap.”
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the first pick in the 2021 draft ahead of Wilson, topped Renner’s list.