The Biggest Breakout Stars from Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season


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Rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase before a game with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2021.

Ethan K. and Peter O.

With the first week of the 2021 NFL season coming to a close, we decided to take a look at some of the biggest breakout stars from the first weekend of the National Football League. Comment your thoughts down below and let us know if you think there is anyone we missed!

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Houston Texans

With many considering the Texans to be the worst team in the NFL, their 37-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars certainly came as a surprise. Taylor, making his first regular season start in a Texans uniform, threw for 291 yards, two touchdowns, rushed for 40 yards, and posted a very solid quarterback rating (QBR) of 112.1 ( Having been in the league for quite some time, Taylor is not a traditional breakout player. With that being said, due to injuries and losing the starting job multiple times, Taylor has never played a complete season in his 11 year NFL career. It is beginning to look like things will change for Tyrod Taylor this year. 

Eli Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers

Mitchell, a sixth round pick out of Louisiana, got a surprising amount of playing time after starter Raheem Mostert went down with a knee injury early in the game. Fellow rookie running back Trey Sermon was inactive for the game, leading to Mitchell taking over for Mostert. Mitchell made the most of the opportunity, helping ground an extremely high-scoring 49ers offense that beat the Lions 41-33. Rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown (, Mitchell has earned well-deserved playing time and will most likely be the feature running back for the 49ers next matchup.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals fans were understandably worried about Chase after he made some comments about NFL footballs being harder to catch than NCAA footballs. After a great rookie debut in which he caught 5 passes for 101 yards, as well as a crucial touchdown in Cincinnati’s overtime victory ( He looked very fluid within the offense, consistently getting separation against Minnesota’s cornerbacks group. After some initial regret over the pick, Chase should help the Bengals a good bit, adding an extremely dynamic and reliable weapon for his old LSU teammate Joe Burrow to throw to.

Cam Sutton, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Sutton, a 2017 NFL Draft pick by the Steelers, has found it hard to find playing time throughout his time in Pittsburgh due to the enormous amount of depth on the roster. After the departure of Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson, Sutton rose in the depth chart and has made enormous leaps. He had a monster game against the Buffalo Bills, recording two pass deflections and two tackles for loss ( What stands out even more was the timing of those plays, as Sutton was able to make clutch plays that lead to the Steelers upset of the Bills in week 1.

Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

Ridgeway surprised many after an astonishing game against the Atlanta Falcons where Ridgeway had three quarterback hits, one tackle for loss, and a sack despite just playing 26 snaps on defense ( After being a fourth round pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 2016, Ridgeway was traded to Philadelphia in the 2019 offseason ( After a lackluster preseason, the Eagles opted to go with fellow veteran nose tackle T.Y. McGill, releasing Ridgeway ( Just 12 days later, Ridgeway found himself back on the roster and starring in a massive upset victory over the Atlanta Falcons.