The NFL season starts on September 7, and with that comes fans that are giddy with anticipation at finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Every year, the start of a new season brings renewed hope that every NFL team (even the Cleveland Browns) has a chance to take a decisive step forward towards greatness and ultimately a Super Bowl victory. However, before that excitement can begin to mount, fans and their respective franchises will be eager to get a closer look at their talented draft picks. While not every rookie will have a prominent impact for their confident organizations, there will be a decisive few that will immediately contribute to their teams success from start to finish.
5. Jarrad Davis, ILB, Detroit Lions
Although the Lions could have addressed numerous needs in the draft, they chose to select a middle linebacker that could be one of the best defensive rookies this season. Along with being a dynamic run defender, Davis has the quickness to easily slip blocks and can put constant pressure on the quarterback. While Davis may not be the most bulky linebacker to come out of the draft, he has a high football IQ and a strong motor, which should allow to him to excel right away for the Lions
4. O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After slipping to the Buccaneers as the 19th pick in the first round, it stands to reason that the immensely talented tight end will have a massive chip on his shoulder coming into his first NFL season. Howard has the size and strength to be a fantastic run blocker along with the hands and quickness to be a reliable receiver in the Buccaneers high-octane offense. While veterans such as Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce have rightly garnered the majority of the limelight as dominant receiving tight ends, Howard will look to dethrone both of these athletes in his rookie season.
3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
Given how severely abused Cam Newton was last year, it made sense for the Panthers to acquire a dynamic back that could be a go to receiving threat when Newton works out of the pocket. His natural vision and unwavering work ethic will give McCaffrey a distinct advantage over the bigger, one trick pony rushers coming into the season. McCaffrey has already displayed his quickness in training camp, as he put linebacker Luke Keuchly on roller skates during a drill. If this display is any indication of McCaffrey’s regular season output on the field, opposing defenses will have their work cut out for them on every play.
2. Haason Reddick, ILB, Arizona Cardinals
Going by Reddick’s sheer athleticism alone, it seems almost a forgone conclusion that the versatile linebacker will be a prominent playmaker from week 1 onward. However, when you combine his impressive physical attributes with his cerebral approach to the game, it would not be hyperbolic to suggest that Reddick could be one of the best defenders in the NFL this year. A former walk on safety at Temple that quickly made the adjustment to becoming a dynamic linebacker, Reddick has the distinct advantage over other linebackers as being a master of many and could line up in a variety of ways for the Cardinals. Barring a serious injury, Reddick will make his presence known as a defensive threat that is not to be taken lightly.
1. Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets
Although many took issue with Adams’ comments about dying on the field, from a talent perspective Adams has the capabilities to play all over the field in the Jets secondary. He has the quickness and vision to effectively stop the run coupled with the strength to play tight man coverage against tight ends and slot receivers. While Adams will not be playing for a winning franchise this year, this will give him a fantastic opportunity to display his versatility in the secondary and set the tone for an organization that is looking to build around their next defensive leader.