NFL: Rookies to Watch For in Week 1

As NFL preseason wanes down, and the 1st week of the actual football season begins, many are interesting in the status of the NFL rookies that are best positioned to make serious noise immediately throughout the league.

Granted, there have been a lot of injuries throughout the NFL preseason, notably to a lot of rookies, but I have a feeling a lot of guys are going to come on strong towards the middle and end of the NFL season. But in this post, I am going to take a look at some 1st-year players that should feature for teams very early in the season.

Offensive Players

DeShone Kizer – After winning the starting QB job for the Browns, all eyes are going to be on Kizer. He’s had an impressive camp and preseason so far, but starting an actual NFL game is going to be a whole other story. Browns want to evaluate him fast because next year’s QB class is completely stacked.

Dalvin Cook – Cook has looked impressive and explosive in the preseason and has even looked competent in blocking. Many think he will win rookie of the year, but that remains to be seen.

Leonard Fournette – Fournette has had a nagging foot injury throughout camp but looks ready to go for week 1 for the Jets. He looks more explosive and leaner than he did at LSU. I expect him to handle the workload early on and do an outstanding job.

Joe Mixon – The Bengals certainly did their work on Mixon, and there were many that were completely against it, but Mixon has looked outstanding. He’s the real deal and the total package for the Bengals. All signs point to him starting very quickly after sharing the carries in the first few games.

Christian McCaffrey – McCaffrey will be a handful for opposing defenses. He is going to touch the ball at least 20 times a game for the Panthers, and will no doubt get his opportunities to make a lot of plays. Many are picking him for offensive rookie of the year due to his explosiveness and a number of opportunities he should get very quickly.

Kareem Hunt – After the Chiefs lost Spencer Ware for the year, all signs point to Hunt taking off the starting duties from week 1. He’s looked impressive and I think will start the year really really strong. **Fantasy football cue**

Dede Westbrook – Westbrook had some off the field concerns at Oklahoma, but he is going to be the deep play guy for the Jaguars. He’s had an outstanding camp for the Jaguars. He picked up an injury in the 3rd preseason game, but it looks like he should be ready to go for the start of the year.

Cooper Kupp – Everyone wanted to dismiss Kupp because of his lack of speed, but Kupp just keeps making plays for the Rams. He catches everything, and always finds space somehow. He is a reception machine and will be a PPR beast for fantasy lovers.

Defensive Players

Myles Garrett – Garrett has been outstanding when playing this offseason for the Browns. He has immediately shown his explosiveness for them. He will be a leading candidate for defensive rookie of the year.

Carl Lawson – Everyone wanted to dismiss Carl Lawson in the draft because of constant injury issues at Auburn, but he’s been tremendous for the Bengals. He might be the steal of the draft. I graded him as a 1st round player, and he’s been showing it throughout camp. He even beat Trent Williams for a sack in the preseason.

TJ Watt – Despite only being a 1 year player at Wisconsin, Watt impressed. The Steelers have been wowed by Watt so far in preseason as he has multiple sacks and continues to get after the QB. Not an overly explosive guy but perfect for the Steelers 3-4 system.

Solomon Thomas – Despite battling injuries throughout the 49ers offseason, Thomas has quickly impressed the coaching staff and John Lynch. Many are saying him and Foster will be tremendous from Day 1. I tend to believe it.

Davon Godchaux – Not taken until the 5th round, Godchaux might be the steal of the draft. Many are penciling him in to be the starter for the Dolphins on the defensive line next to Suh. Or at the very least a rotational player.

Tyus Bowser – Bowser looks to play as a strong side linebacker for the Ravens. He has experience in coverage and looks natural in doing so. John Harbaugh has been thoroughly impressed by Bowser, and many Ravens experts saying he is the best rookie they have in camp.

Reuben Foster – Foster is an absolute thumper. He has already made some big hits in camp and preseason, notably the one knocking Dalvin Cook 3 yards into the backfield. Many are claiming he is the best Alabama LB that Saban has put out, and that wouldn’t surprise anyone.

Kendell Beckwith – Beckwith was a really good, reliable MLB at LSU and I thought was a tremendous value after coming off an ACL tear. The Bucs look to have stolen one and I thought Beckwith is going to get valuable snaps very quickly.

Jamal Adams – Adams continues to impress and locate the ball for the Jets in training camp. There have been some slight hiccups but as a whole, Jets fans are beyond excited about their new play making safety.

Obviously, there are a lot of other guys impressing as well. This is just my summation of some of the guys to really watch for early on in the NFL season. The offensive and defensive rookies of the year might just come from this group.

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