The 3 Most Improved NFL Players in 2020
An unusual football season has seen some players take a major step forward with their production
The 2020 NFL is nearing the conclusion of its regular season. Despite being played in the midst of a pandemic, a full slate of games has managed to occur. Within the pandemonium, a number of players have stepped up their game and are playing at an all-time high level. These are the three most improved players to emerge during this unusual season.
Baker Mayfield, Quarterback- Cleveland Browns: After an up and down first couple of years, the 25-year-old signal caller appears to have finally lived up to having been the first overall selection in the 2018 draft. After his first two seasons, which ranged from putrid to mediocre, Mayfield is not only playing well, but leading his team to a likely playoff berth, as Cleveland currently sits with a 10–4 record heading into the final two regular season games of the season.
Mayfield has put up very solid numbers, passing for 3,082 yards and 25 touchdowns. His biggest improvement has come from taking care of the ball. In his first two years he combined for 35 interceptions and 13 fumbles, while he has just eight and five respectively in 2020. His outstanding production has come despite losing star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. after just seven games due to injury — a promising sign that his improvement is for real.
Josh Allen, Quarterback- Buffalo Bills: When the Bills made Allen the seventh overall pick in the 2018 draft, they took a gamble. While the big quarterback oozed talent, he was also rough and therefore a project, especially for someone who was tabbed as the future of the franchise. He was eased in during his rookie season, made noticeable strides in his second and has broken out as a verifiable star this year.
Allen has thrown for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns against nine interceptions. He has completed a career-high 68.7% of his passes, which is 10% higher than any previous mark. Of course, it hasn’t hurt that he now has wideout Stefon Diggs to throw to, but he has become a playmaker instead of just a game manager. He has also continued to use his legs as a weapon, as he has 383 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns, which gives him 25 already in his young career.
Damien Harris, Running Back- New England Patriots: After being a third-round pick out of Alabama last year, Harris could hardly find the field in 2019. Between injuries and healthy scratches, he appeared in just two games, gaining 12 yards and on four rushes. To be fair, it was also a tall order to crack the backfield rotation, as the Patriots had Sony Michel and James White seeing significant time on both rushing and passing downs.
This season, an injury to Michel opened the door for Harris, who burst through it and seized the opportunity. He has been the primary back and played exceedingly well on a middling Patriots team. In 10 games, he has rushed for 691 yards and two scores. He is averaging 5.0 yards per attempt, which is a welcome number because the team’s passing attack has been feeble at best with the loss of Tom Brady (free agency) and receiving stalwart like Julian Edelman (injuries)