5 Packers players poised for breakout seasons in 2024

Green Bay Packers, Dontayvion Wicks
Green Bay Packers, Dontayvion Wicks / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

With the youngest roster in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers have plenty of opportunity for growth on both sides of the ball in 2024.

They have a boatload of talent all over the field, and many players are bound to take a step forward and continue to show their worth on the Packers' roster.

There will be more opportunities for players to flourish and become critical pieces of the team, taking tremendous strides from last season. Here are five players with the best chance to break out for the Packers in 2024.

Breakout candidates for the Packers in 2024

1. Dontayvion Wicks, WR

Although the statistics will not blow you away, Dontayvion Wicks is always open. Racking up 581 yards on 39 receptions with four touchdowns in his rookie season, Wicks was a contributor in a crowded Packers receiving room.

His extensive route tree and explosiveness set him apart from other receivers, finishing with the league's highest rate of getting open versus single-man coverage, at 55.13%, per PFF. Wicks' ability to make plays with a burst off the line of scrimmage reminds many of former Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, using his release to his advantage on every snap. There will be no shortage of opportunities for Wicks in 2024, as he showed flashes of becoming an NFL superstar.

2. Isaiah McDuffie, LB

Drafted 220th overall out of Boston College in 2021, Isaiah McDuffie has quietly had some success with the Packers in his first three seasons. With players such as De'Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker missing games at various times in 2023, McDuffie was the next man up.

Appearing on over 60% of defensive snaps in nine games, McDuffie showed promise commanding the defense, including five tackles for a loss in those nine games. Many expected the Packers to add to their linebacker room early in free agency, but after failing to do so, look for McDuffie to gain more opportunities in the future, alongside a draft or late free agency addition.

The Packers' lack of urgency to fill the linebacker position alludes to a sense of confidence in McDuffie and his capability to be a starting linebacker. The second-string inside linebacker position will be up for grabs on Green Bay, and it would be no surprise if McDuffie were to fill it and succeed.

3. Luke Musgrave, TE

When the Packers selected tight end Luke Musgrave out of Oregon State with the 42nd overall pick in the draft, they knew he was an athletic freak. As a 6-foot-6, 253-pound rookie who ran a 4.61 40-yard dash, Musgrave was expected to be plugged into the offense immediately.

Despite not blowing anyone away on the stat sheet, Musgrave quietly had a solid season before his eventual injury (lacerated kidney). With 33 receptions for 341 yards through 10 games, he was on pace to break Packers' legendary receiver Sterling Sharpe's rookie receptions record (55), which was eventually broken by Jayden Reed (64) later in 2023.

Musgrave is a player who stretches the field using his physical tools and his receiving ability to pick apart defenses. As long as Musgrave can stay on the field in 2024, he is primed for a big sophomore season at tight end.

4. Lukas Van Ness, EDGE

In a rookie campaign where he saw no games playing at least 50% of the defensive snaps, Lukas Van Ness made an impact for the Packers in 2024. Nicknamed "Hercules," the Packers selected Van Ness with the 13th overall pick out of Iowa.

With a sack on former Bears quarterback Justin Fields in Week 1, Van Ness showed off his athleticism, keeping up with a player of Fields' speed. The numbers will not astound you, but four sacks and eight tackles for loss are nothing to scoff at with the little playing time Van Ness received.

Sitting behind Preston Smith off the edge, Van Ness could not always find a place on the field, but his role is bound to grow as Smith ages. It was not long ago when Packers superstar edge rusher Rashan Gary was in a similar place to Van Ness, a first-round draft choice waiting for an opportunity to shine. History could repeat itself for Gary and Van Ness as "Hercules" looks to make a bigger mark on the Packers with an expanded role in 2024.

5. Rasheed Walker, T

Rasheed Walker had a rocky start to 2023, to say the least. After former Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari was sidelined after the season opener, Walker was thrown into the starting left tackle position. Compared to his first half of the season, Walker's second half looks like he was a different player.

In the middle of the season, there was plenty of talk about former Packers offensive tackle Yosh Nijman taking Walker's place, as Walker was committing harmful penalties and allowing multiple sacks. In the back half of the campaign, Walker looked to be among the NFL's best tackles, doing his part to give quarterback Jordan Love protection.

It seemed like a given that the Packers would release David Bakhtiari this offseason. However, they did have the money to restructure his deal if they wanted to. It appears the Packers are confident in what Walker displayed down the stretch last season, as the former seventh-round pick looks to become Green Bay's left tackle of the future.

If Walker plays anything like he did towards the end of the 2023 season from now on, there is no reason why he won't earn a lucrative contract extension from the Packers when the time comes.

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