Rookie Spotlight: First Impressions

It’s football season and that means it's not only time for Tom Brady to come back for his 100th year, but time for the latest draft picks to showcase their talents on the gridiron.

Late round players often emerge as huge stars; players like Antonio Brown, Richard Sherman, and last year’s standouts Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara, were all post-3rd round picks. Tom Brady, arguably the greatest QB of all-time, was picked in the sixth round. However this season, it’s top picks like Sam Darnold and Saquon Barkley that the fans are excited about, and the beginning of the season has been no disappointment.

Giants fans were hyped for Saquon’s first start in the Big Apple, and he did not let them down. Barkley totaled 106 rushing yards and 22 receiving yards, per, which included a huge 68 yard TD run for his first NFL score against the league’s best defense. Giants fan Aidan Cuthbertson says, “Saquon is the FUTURE!” Saquon was the weapon that Pat Shurmur and his offense needed to complement the strong receiving core.

The Jets first round pick, Sam Darnold, was named starter on August 29th, when many thought he would ride the bench this season to develop with Josh McCown as his mentor. In his first start against the Detroit Lions, he surely lived up to his 3rd pick expectations. Darnold started the game off with a pick-six thrown on the first play of the game to Lions safety Quandre Diggs. Yet, Sam did not let that affect him and he dominated the rest of the game, going 16/21, a 76% completion percentage, 198 yards and 2 TDs. Longtime Jet fan Dennis Smith says, “I’m buying my Super Bowl tickets for next year, Darnold is the guy we’ve been waiting for.”

Another season, another opportunity for the Browns to disappoint their fans with terrible draft picks. Since 2000, 28 different quarterbacks have appeared in Cleveland games with many failed draft picks along the way, including Johnny Manziel. However, the Browns finally think they have their guy in Baker Mayfield, this year’s number one overall pick. Mayfield is set to sit this season to develop and hopefully become a weapon next season, but it’s the fourth overall pick Denzel Ward who is making Browns fans excited. Ward had 2 INT week one against the Steelers and will be a key player in the secondary with star Myles Garrett in the defensive line. NFL fan John Vallen thinks that, “Ward and Mayfield will be a key factor in the Browns’ success the next few years.”

Other notable rookies include Roquan Smith, who had 1 sack and 3 tackles week one, Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins first round draft pick, Derwin James, Chargers safety, and Vita Vea, Buccaneers rookie defensive tackle.

Although it's early in the season with the first couple of weeks in the books, this young group of players have shown promise that they can be big NFL stars.

Evan Ackerman