Which players struggled in 2019 but could bounce back in 2020? Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of preseason games, young players in NFL training camps might not get as much practice time as they would in normal years. As such, it will be especially important for veteran players who slumped last season to revert to form.
That's where we come in. With the help of our friends at Pro Football Focus, we identified 32 players with pedigree who are looking to turn the page on 2019, and then our NFL Nation reporters provided context on the upcoming season. These players are ready to spike 2019 from their systems and move forward, and here's how they can do it.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB
PFF overall grade in 2019: 58.5
What went wrong: Vander Esch was one of the NFL's best off-ball linebackers as a rookie in 2018, producing the fifth-best PFF overall grade at the position (84.4). He then suffered a neck injury that hindered his sophomore campaign; his overall grade dropped to 58.5, 60th among 100 qualifiers, and his run-defense grade fell from 81.3 to 43.2. -- PFF
Outlook for 2020: Vander Esch's ability to bounce back is directly tied to his health. The Cowboys are confident he will be fine as he enters his third season. He is moving to middle linebacker and will be the defensive signal-caller under new coordinator Mike Nolan. He will be a central figure in the defense. Athletically, Vander Esch can do everything a top-notch linebacker is required to do. He can see the game well enough at this point to anticipate things. But he has to be a physical presence to be successful, and how he returns will tell the story if he can be as effective as he was a rookie, if not better. -- Todd Archer