With the NFL season only a few days away, the pressure is on for the first-round rookies. In this year’s rookie class, at least those in the first round, quite a few of them will see significant playing time. These rookies come into the 2021 year with high expectations but only time will tell who steps up first. That being said, let’s check out which of these first-round rookies will see the field first/the most.
First Rounders That Will Start
Trevor Lawrence– Jacksonville had one thing in mind when drafting Lawrence, he’s their starter. Jacksonville went a step further by trading away his competition in Gardner Minshew. Lawrence has been given the keys to the Jaguar franchise and looks to have a starting role for a long time. As far as how he will perform, I think he will surprise people. I think Lawrence will put up around 2,000 pass yards and ten touchdowns. Nothing extremely eye-opening, but better than most people think.
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Zach Wilson– Wilson is in the same boat as Trevor Lawrence. Wilson will be the starter for the Jets until further notice. New York had their eyes on him for a while before the draft and now they have him. Wilson was brought in not long after the Jets traded away Sam Darnold.
Wilson has plenty of options for receivers and I expect Wilson to throw for about 2,000 yards and ten touchdowns as well. These rookie quarterbacks have a lot of pressure on them thus me not expecting humongous numbers from him.
Mac Jones– Jones was not the start two weeks ago for the Patriots. Fast forward to now and Mac Jones is going to be the guy under center for the foreseeable future. New England cut Cam Newton opening the starting spot wide open.
As if any other quarterback was being considered to start, Mac Jones has been gifted that starting role. If Mac capitalizes on this opportunity, he could have a similar year to Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence. Nothing crazy in the stat book, but shows he can handle the starting role.
Wide Receivers And Running Backs Next–
DeVonta Smith, Jalen Waddle, Kyle Pitts– I combined these three because there is no point in saying the same thing three more times. All three of these pass catchers are stepping into starting roles. Smith, Waddle, and Pitts all bring elite talent out of college that should make immediate impacts for their teams.
Smith will bring a fresh face to the Philly receiving core, Waddle is going to get a few weeks in while Will Fuller V is out for Miami, and Pitts will be one of the big weapons in the Atlanta offense. I think all three of these guys will get near 1,000 yards receiving and around eight touchdowns. Keep an eye on these rookie sensations.
Najee Harris– Najee was the biggest running back prospect coming into the draft. Pittsburgh probably prayed many times before draft night to land Harris. Najee enters Pittsburgh with full control over the run game. With James Connor now in Arizona, Harris is a day one starter. He is going to have a stellar year in Pittsburgh even if the Steelers have a down year. Harris will be a 1,000-yard rusher and win Rookie of the Year.
Yes, I know I am jumping the gun quite a bit, but Harris is that good. Keep an eye on the Pittsburgh backfield this year.
Offensive Lineman Last–
Penei Sewell— Penei was gifted to Detroit and a high-graded o-lineman was just what they needed. With Detroit trading for Jared Goff, what better gift for the new QB than Penei Sewell. He is going to start now that Tyrell Crosby is on the IR and he will play a big role in the Lions’ o-line. Sewell has agile blocking skills that do not come around often and Detroit needs all the help they can get. Sewell would surprise no one if he allowed little to no quarterback pressure from the right tackle position.
Rashawn Slater– Slater is another example of an o-lineman being gifted to a team in desperate need of one. The Chargers need to protect franchise QB Justin Herbert and drafting the other highly graded o-lineman was perfect here. He is just as quick and agile as Sewell and brings plenty to the table. Slater is stepping into a starting role as well, but he earned his spot for sure. Protecting Herbert will be a tough assignment, but Slater is worth the pick to performing well.
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First Rounders That Will Play
Notable Defensive Rookies–
Micah Parsons, Patrick Surtain, Odafe Oweh– These three defensive draft picks stand out the most but they will not start. However, they will see the field for plenty of reps no doubt about it. These three are going to be fresh faces on some pretty solid defenses that need to be upgraded.
Dallas got a steal draft pick in Parsons and so did Denver with Surtain and Baltimore with Oweh. All three guys either created more depth or filled a hole in their teams’ defenses. Keep a close eye on these three as they will definitely be mentioned throughout the season.
One Last QB–
Justin Fields– While Chicago has named Andy Dalton as the Week One starter, this is not the end for Fields. I can easily see a situation where he is starting by Week Five or Six. I feel like the QB situation in Chicago will be similar to Miami last year. Fitzpatrick won games for Miami, but the ultimate goal was to start Tua.
In Chicago, I see the same thing happening where Andy Dalton grooms Fields for five more weeks to prep him to start full time. I hope I am right because Justin Fields could be something special if he gets his shot.
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