Every season, there are players who come out of nowhere and surprise fans, contributing to their team’s success more so than previously expected, based on past performance. Likewise, there are players who under-perform compared to assumed expectations.

Hence, the balance of season-to-season positive and negative regression. It’s what makes up rosters in the NFL every season. You can count on regression, in either form, like you can count on the sun to come down every evening.

The only hard part is figuring out beforehand which players are due for which type of regression. Last year, Demario Davis went from a solid player to a superstar linebacker. The year before that, Ken Crawley went from an up-and-coming corner to looking like the undrafted free agent he really was.

We spoke about the candidates for regression last month, but now let’s look on the bright side.

Who are some of the players on the Saints roster poised for breakout seasons in 2020?

Alex Anzalone
This is an easy one. If Alex Anzalone can stay healthy, he might be the missing piece to the Saints defense, as I wrote about back in March.

A sure tackler and a shifty player in coverage, Anzalone is what a Mike linebacker next to Demario Davis should look like.

He presents the athleticism and play-recognition to play in the deep middle of the field in Cover 2 zone, a coverage the Saints deploy more often than most teams. He displays the closing speed to effectively man underneath zones and minimize gains on short routes.

Marshon Lattimore
For some, this may be a bit confusing. Marshon Lattimore had a breakout year in 2017, and he’s already been established as a true no. 1 corner. Is he going to breakout again?

In short, yes.

Lattimore hasn’t quite lived up to the lofty expectations he set for himself in his dominant rookie season, where he allowed career-lows in yards per catch allowed, catch rate allowed, yards allowed, catches allowed, and, of course, touchdowns allowed (0).

This isn’t to say he’s been bad in the past couple of seasons. There are teams out there who would commit highway robbery for the production Latt has churned out in 2018 and 2019, breaking up 16 passes and hauling in five picks.

He just hasn’t been a top-tier corner in those seasons. He’s been a top half-of-the-league corner, which is fine, but I think it’s safe to say he expects more out of himself. As do saints fans.

In 2019, Lattimore picked off one pass and allowed three touchdowns, after picking off nine passes next to two TDs allowed in the previous two seasons combined. His PFF coverage grade went from 87.9 his rookie year, to 75.8 in 2018 and 65.7 last year.

He simply has been getting beaten more often, as time goes on in his career.

Some of this can be attributed to a somewhat lackadaisical nature in some instances.

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