This article is part of our Football Draft Kit series.
The 2019 campaign was among the most fruitful in recent memory for breakouts, ranging from a 22-year-old MVP to a 27-year-old journeyman tight end to the usual assortment of second-year wideout explosions. Scooping up Darren Waller or DJ Chark in the 15th round was good for bragging rights, but it probably wasn't as profitable as a second-round pick spent on Dalvin Cook or a fourth-rounder on Chris Godwin, and it definitely wasn't as impactful as landing Lamar Jackson in Round 8. Or maybe you drafted all those guys … and still ended up losing to whoever had Christian McCaffrey.
There's only so much we can do, and each season brings a new wave of breakout candidates ashore. For every Jackson there's a Baker Mayfield, and for every Cook a Kerryon Johnson. Later in drafts, the ratio is more like five Chris Herndons for every Darren Waller, or 10 DaeSean Hamiltons for every Chark.
If those 15th-round picks actually had good odds to break out, they wouldn't be available in the 15th round. That's not to say we shouldn't try; quite the opposite given how upside is all that really matters for those final few bench spots. The broader idea is not just to identify potential breakout players — there are at least 30 or 40 legitimate candidates — but to find the ones most likely to outperform their ADP or auction cost by a large margin.
The players discussed below have been identified