This year’s rookie class is ready to set the lea hue on fire this season, but which one is set to deliver the highest impact this upcoming season?
It’s a hard question to answer, especially considering the amount of skill and raw talent this draft class possesses. It’d be easy to pick a name like Tua Tagovailoa, or even Justin Herbert, but this class of wide receivers brings an overall level of excitement the league hasn’t seen in a while. You can’t count out the big boys either, Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw were the 2 best interior defensive linemen pre-draft, and both ended up in favorable situations to get their careers off to good starts. The “top 4” group of offensive tackles in this draft aren’t slouches either, they’ll put together some nice stretches of play as well.
I didn’t even get to the impressive group of first-round linebackers or the accomplished trio of running backs that got drafted within the first 2 rounds of the draft.
So many gifted prospects that we all have to keep an eye on this season, frankly speaking, thinking about the amount of 1st-year talent this draft class possesses makes my head spin.
Although each rookie brings their own gifts, they’ll also be hit with their own expectations. Some are expected to produce early if they can, and some will be brought along a little bit more slowly.
That’s why it’s hard to answer the question I asked above, but I won’t give up, I’ll give you the rookie that’s my favorite to deliver the highest impact in each division.
Twist huh? Let’s get to it.
AFC East: WR Denzel Mims, New York Jets
The popular pick here would be Tua Tagovailoa, but I have some concerns about him that prevented me from putting him down, which I’ll address later.
Instead, I chose Denzel Mims, who could be in line for a big rookie year under Adam Gase.
Outside of Mims, the only wide receiver that gets you excited is Jamison Crowder, which is good for Mims’s potential rookie production explosion, and bad for my eyes. Mims doesn’t have the most extensive route tree, but his combination of speed and size should give Adam Gase some fun ideas in terms of ways to get the ball in Mims’s hands.
I initially was going to pick Tagovailoa here, but due to Ryan Fitzpatrick potentially taking early playing time away from Tua, and with the Dolphins having the choice to sit Tua just to make sure his hip injury is truly 100% in their eyes, I’m a bit skeptical on how much of an impact Tua can have early on.
Other Rookies to Watch In The Division: Mehki Becton, Zack Moss, Jabari Zuniga, Robert Hunt, Ashtyn Davis
AFC North: QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
A pretty easy choice here.
Burrow will make his way to Cincinnati, and be tasked with bringing the Bengals back to the “glory days”. I like the skill weapon situation there, with proven veterans, A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, along with rookie Tee Higgins. Joe Mixon brings an legitimate threat in the run game, and the ability to contribute in the passing game is an added bonus.
This all come down to how long can this Bengals offensive line hold. The offensive line has gone through a bit of a makeover, but it’s hard to gauge the improvement this line will show. With some potent defensive lines residing in the AFC North, I’ll be interested to see how much we see Burrow staring upright, versus on his back.
Either way, I like my chances with Burrow making the biggest impact in the division.
Other Rookies to Watch In The Division: Patrick Queen, J.K. Dobbins, Justin Madubuike, Jedrick Wills, Anthony McFarland, Jordan Elliott, Devin Duvernay
AFC South: CB C.J.Henderson, Jacksonville Jaguars
This was a hard one.
The AFC South added plenty of firepower via the draft, but the one that stands out as the best candidate to make the highest impact is none other than C.J. Henderson.
With Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye both gone, C.J. Henderson will step in as the top corner in Duval. His impressive skill set will be a great asset in the effort towards rebuilding, the once feared, Jacksonville Jaguars defense.
There isn’t a lot to say really regarding this prediction, only that it made the most sense.
K’Laivon Chaisson won’t find extensive playing time with Yannick Ngakoue in front of him, Michael Pittman is a rookie wide receiver with an old Philip Rivers throwing the rock, Jonathan Taylor has to share the backfield with 2 other viable options at running back, and Kristian Fulton will get immediate playing time as a nickel corner, but I’m not sold on his potential high impact *this season*.
You get the gist, too many questions.
Other Rookies to Watch In The Division: K’Laivon Chaisson, Michael Pittman Jr., Kristian Fulton, Jonathan Taylor, Ross Blacklock
AFC West: WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
A no brainer here.
Jerry Jeudy should be in line for a successful rookie year. Lining up alongside Courtland Sutton, Jeudy will have some decent chances to contribute early and often this fall.
A lot will ride on the continued development of Drew Lock, and if he can carry over the success he had at the end of last season.
Other than that, the opportunity to produce early on is right in front of Jeudy, it all depends on what he does with it.
Other Rookies to Watch In The Division: Kenneth Murray, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Justin Herbert, Henry Ruggs, Amik Robertson, K.J. Hamler, Willie Gay Jr.
Flip the pages for the NFC rookies.