NFL 1ST ROUND DRAFT PICKS THAT CAN MAKE AN IMPACT ROOKIE SEASON
More than 250 rookies hit the NFL each year, whether they’re one of the lucky few to get drafted or part of the crop of undrafted free agents left on the outside looking in. Some of them never manage to play a down in the NFL; others take time to get used to the speed of the game at the professional level, working their way into the ranks slowly over the course of weeks, months, or years.
Others are asked to assume roles as full-time starters from Day 1, whether because the team that brings them in lacks depth at a given position that badly, or because the rookie’s talent stands out so much that they’re able to take the training wheels off immediately (or some combination of both of those factors).
With training camps concluded and the preseason in full swing, we have a pretty good idea of what NFL rookies have the best chance of starting for their teams and playing a major role this upcoming season. Here’s a look at a few of them.
Zay Flowers (Boston College)
Anyone who has watched the Baltimore Ravens in the past few seasons knows that quarterback Lamar Jackson needs help to spark the passing game in the absolute worst way. He’s a game-breaking talent like few the league has ever seen, but no player can win games entirely on their own…although Jackson certainly gives it his best effort.
The Ravens are doing their due diligence to overhaul their passing game this season, and Zay Flowers looks to be a big part of that. A first-round pick out of Boston College, he’s a shifty slot option who can wreak havoc as coverage breaks down, especially while Jackson extends plays with his legs. We’ve seen the Ravens try–and fail–to bring in a couple of other top wide receivers for Jackson during his time in town, but with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken in place, they should have an excellent chance of installing a successful scheme.
BC fans can take advantage of a Caesars Massachusetts promo code if they’re looking to get in on the action when Flowers or any other Boston College alums are playing, as they look to make their mark in the NFL.
Anthony Richardson (University of Florida)
Anthony Richardson, who the Indianapolis Colts drafted out of Florida in the first round, is one of the most fascinating prospects in this year’s draft. When you look at his raw athleticism and arm strength, he’s the type of player who could make his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday… which is saying something, even in this era where young players receive more hype than ever before.
With that being said, Richardson is an extremely raw talent, who has even more of a chance of busting out of the league than he does of making it to Canton. His boom-or-bust potential makes him a fascinating player to keep an eye on, and although it looks like he’s the kind of player who could use a year or two on the bench as he works out his mechanical issues, the Colts seem hellbent on anointing him the starter as soon as possible, listing him as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart early in training camp.
The good news is that there are pieces in place for him to succeed. The Colts have one of the better offensive lines in football, which will help keep him clean and unhurried. He’s a solid decision-maker, and in many ways, it’s easier to iron out mechanical flaws than it is poor decision-making. He’s a project who will have to make his way in the league through a trial by fire, but his physical talent means it’ll be a treat to watch him figure things out, no matter how many hiccups there are along the way.
C.J. Stroud (University of Ohio)
C.J. Stroud is a similarly interesting prospect, although for entirely different reasons from Richardson. He’s the best pure passer in the draft class in many ways (I have him as a better pick than quarterback Bryce Young, who went No. 1 overall just ahead of Stroud), but Stroud is stepping into a far messier situation. The Texans have a first-year head coach and they’ve suffered with organizational malaise for years. While Stroud has the mind and passing ability to step in and succeed from day 1 in the league, it’s no easy task for him to overcome the internal roadblocks set up for him because of the Texans’ ineptitude.
If I were Stroud, I would’ve pulled an Eli Manning and refused to sign with the Texans from the get-go. He’s in Houston to stay for the foreseeable future, though, but at least he has the talent to fake it until he makes it while the organization tries to figure things out themselves.