Every April, NFL fans all over the globe watch their favorite team select players out of college who they think will help the team reach the pinnacle of the NFL, the Super Bowl. Teams select players either based on what position they need to fill or they just take the player they believe is the best available.
The NFL Draft adds intrigue to the picks because it is seven rounds and guys from all over get a chance to be selected. The list includes Division one, Division two, and Division three colleges, while JUCO programs are picked as well. Once in a while, one of those picks from the schools that are not division one programs works out and helps contribute to the team. The latest example of this is when the Arizona Cardinals selected wide receiver John Brown out of Pittsburg State, a Division two school in Missouri, in the third round of the 2014 draft. Brown has become one of the key weapons that Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer uses to carve up opposing defenses.
With the draft in the rear-view mirror and the start of the NFL season here, many fans are looking to see which of their team’s selections will make an impact on the team this season and show why the team picked them. After doing serious research, here is a list of the top fifteen rookies across the league to look out for, these players seem to be NFL ready.
15 Devontae Booker, RB, Utah (136th pick by the Denver Broncos)
Devontae Booker is first on the list for his play during training camp which earned him a second running back job from Ronnie Hillman, who in return was cut from the roster. While he didn't look great in week one, he's still a rookie and we're going to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Booker was a standout at the University of Utah in his two seasons there, compiling 3,395 scrimmage yards and 23 touchdowns during his time with the Utes.
In the NFL today, teams are looking for a running game that consists of two or more backs to take the load off of one main guy. The Broncos, by drafting Booker, show that their looking for another back to join CJ Anderson in their backfield and with him beating out Ronnie Hillman for the second running back job, he is showing why the Broncos drafted him and made a good move in the process.
14 Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State (85th pick by the Houston Texans)
The Texans should be fun to watch this season, thanks to their draft. They drafted a couple guys that should make an impact and help their offense have that explosive factor.
The first guy from the Texans draft class on this list is Braxton Miller; the quarterback turned wide receiver out of Ohio State. He switched from quarterback to wide receiver during his senior season with the Buckeyes to help settle the quarterback battle that was occurring between himself, JT Barrett, and Cardale Jones.
During his time as a wide receiver with the Buckeyes, he was the explosive playmaker that the Buckeyes knew he would be, compiling 601 total yards between rushing and receiving and scoring four total touchdowns.
If he does that in the NFL, the Texans will be patting themselves on the back for snatching him in the fourth round.
13 Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama (45th pick by the Tennessee Titans)
Like we with mentioned with Devontae Booker above, NFL teams are looking to have a two or more running back system and the Tennessee Titans are no different.
Before the draft, they acquired workhorse DeMarco Murray from the Philadelphia Eagles. In the second round of the draft, they still selected Alabama’s bull of a running back, Derrick Henry.
In his three years at Alabama, he compiled 3,591 rushing yards, including 2,219 yards just last year in his run to winning the Heisman trophy. Henry looks to break the string of Alabama produced running backs that have gone from starring in Tuscaloosa to being just another player in the NFL.
At 6’3” and 247 pounds, Henry will be a force in the NFL at the running back position and by teaming him with DeMarco Murray, the Titans will surely have one of the most dangerous running games in the league.
12 Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (36th pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars)
You can tell that the Jaguars have a defensive-minded head coach just by the way they draft. After going with Jalen Ramsey, the outstanding corner out of Florida State who is also on this list, with the fifth pick in the first round, they took the linebacker out of UCLA Myles Jack, who scouts thought was a bonafide first round pick before tearing his meniscus last season.
Teams were skeptical of drafting Jack because he admitted that his knee had degenerative aspects and he could be forced to have microfracture surgery on it sometime in the future, even though Jack vowed that he would be ready to play right away. During his first two seasons playing with the Bruins, Jack was named to the All-Pac-12 second team for his outstanding play. The Jaguars are hoping that Jack can get back to playing the way he did before his injury because if so, the rest of the league will surely be kicking themselves for not taking the chance that the Jaguars did.
11 Leonard Floyd, LB, Georgia (9th pick by the Chicago Bears)
When you are a linebacker out of college and you are hoping to get drafted by an NFL team, the dream is that a franchise like the Chicago Bears picks you up. Just look at their history of linebackers. The history certainly doesn't lie, as they've fielded great linebackers like Dick Butkus and Brian Urlacher.
The Bears were hoping that their pick at number nine could fill the void left by Urlacher’s sudden retirement a couple of years ago, as they went with Leonard Floyd out of Georgia.
During his time with the Bulldogs, Floyd had a total of 182 tackles, including 26.5 for a loss, and 17 sacks. Those stats must have had the Bears salivating because that shows that he can wreak havoc on the quarterback and in the opponent’s backfield. Let’s hope that he turns into the player the Bears lost in Urlacher.
10 Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss (29th pick by the Arizona Cardinals)
This is what many people are hoping turns into a feel good story. Robert Nkemdiche was always getting into trouble during his time playing with Ole Miss. He was even suspended for the 2016 Sugar Bowl after getting arrested for possession of marijuana. Since then, he has been trying to get help to become a better person and quit doing the unnecessary things that have been getting him into hot water in the past.
It will surely help that he was drafted by the Cardinals and coach Bruce Arians, who has a reputation for helping give guys like Nkemdiche a chance to better themselves and fulfill their dream of playing in the NFL. Nkemdiche, when he was on the field for the Rebels, was constantly getting to the quarterback and wreaking havoc in the backfield. With the Cardinals and their strong defense, the addition of Nkemdiche to their line will not hurt.
9 Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss (23rd pick by the Minnesota Vikings)
Ole Miss Quarterback Chad Kelly will give you a million reasons why Laquon Treadwell was his favorite go-to weapon last year. Treadwell stands at 6’3” and if you throw the ball up to him, he will go and get it. During his time with the Rebels, he compiled 2,393 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.
Having a receiver like that in the NFL is a nice weapon to have and the Vikings, after drafting Treadwell, cannot wait to add him to their offense. Looking for the receiver to line up opposite of Stefon Diggs, who is a speedster, Treadwell gives the Vikings that big, tall threat on the other side of the field who can also burn a defense deep. While he didn't see the field in week one, he's still a rookie and that can change quickly with some good practices.
Adding a weapon like Treadwell to an offense that already consists of Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph, and the aforementioned Diggs gives the Vikings reasons to believe that they can compete in the NFC.
8 Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (21st pick by the Houston Texans)
Here is the second draft pick made by the Houston Texans that should have an immediate impact on their offense. During his time at Notre Dame, Will Fuller compiled 2,512 receiving yards and scored 30 touchdowns. He also produced plenty of highlights that showed the kind of receiver that he is. Will's is a speedster that can beat his defender deep on any play, something that had to have Texans coach Bill O’Brien salivating at the chance of landing him.
The Texans just signed Brock Osweiler to be their starting quarterback, so in this draft, they were looking to get him some weapons. They do have DeAndre Hopkins already at wide receiver, but with the addition of Fuller and Braxton Miller, they added that explosive factor to the receiving corps. In fact, Fuller has already started making a huge impact, notching 107 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL game.
7 Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson (19th pick by the Buffalo Bills)
If you ask Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to name a player that contributed as much to the team last year as Deshaun Watson did, you can be sure that he will bring up the name Shaq Lawson.
Lawson always seemed to be making a play on defense and when a tackle or stop needed to be made, it was Lawson that was usually making it. During his career with the Tigers, Lawson made a total of 123 tackles including 45.5 for a loss and had 20 sacks.
The Bills snatched him up with the nineteenth pick and add him to a defensive line that already consists of Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus. The Bills are trying to become a contender in the AFC East, which has been run by the Patriots as long as anyone can remember, and to do that, you need a good, stout defense to matchup with the Patriots offense. Unluckily, Lawson has been dealing with injuries to start his NFL career and will start the year on IR, though he's eligible to come back in week seven. If the Bills are still in playoff contention when he gets back, Lawson could be the push that gets them into the big dance.
6 Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor (15th pick by the Cleveland Browns)
Apart from the times where Josh Gordon actually suits up, the Cleveland Browns offense has been consistently lacking an elite option at receiver. This year could possibly be different. First off, Josh Gordon will be back on the field in week five after being suspended for failed drug tests. Second, the Browns drafted the deep threat wide receiver, Corey Coleman out of Baylor.
During his time at Baylor, he became the favorite target of quarterback Bryce Petty and contributed 3,009 yards and 33 touchdowns to the high-powered Bears offense. For those who don’t follow college football, Baylor’s offense is always one of the top in the nation in total offensive yards and points scored.
With the Browns looking for their offense to get going by adding a dual threat quarterback in Robert Griffin III, adding Coleman and getting Gordon back should give him weapons to get the ball to. It started in week one, as Coleman managed 69 yards in his first start. Things might be getting better for the Browns in the near future.
5 Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (135th pick by the Dallas Cowboys)
Thanks to Tony Romo going down with another injury, Dak Prescott finds himself on this list. The Cowboys struggled through a 4-12 season last year, in which Tony Romo missed twelve games and backups Matt Cassel, Brandon Weeden and Kellen Moore struggled in the offense and the team went 1-11 in games started by them.
With that in mind, in the fourth round, the Cowboys selected Prescott to be their backup and they were hoping he would have time to learn behind Romo before he was needed to play. That only lasted one and a half preseason games as Romo fractured his vertebrae and has been announced to be out for six to ten weeks.
As a starter at Mississippi State all four years, Prescott threw for over 9,000 yards and 70 touchdowns to only 23 interceptions. The thing about him is he is a dual threat quarterback that gives the Cowboys another option that they don’t have with Tony Romo.
It will be interesting to see what happens if Prescott does really well and Romo is set to come back, do you put Romo back in or let Prescott play? This is a problem Dallas hopes to have down the road and it looks like it may already be happening. Prescott looked terrific in week one and can only grow from here. Regardless of if he plays with Romo returns, Prescott looks like he could be the Cowboys' future QB.
4 Jalen Ramsey, CB, Florida State (5th pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars)
If you ask Jaguars coach Gus Bradley what he looks for in a defensive player, he would describe the kind of player Jalen Ramsey is. Bradley, who was the Seahawks defensive coordinator before taking the Jaguars job, looks for players who are physical and are wild ball-hawks, which is exactly what Ramsey is.
During his career at Florida State, he had a total of 181 tackles, including 15.5 for a loss, and five sacks and three interceptions. Another thing that Bradley has to love about Ramsey is that he is a long corner. At 6’1”, he can challenge the bigger receivers in the league. That is something that he looked for during his time in Seattle and has brought that ideology to his new spot in Jacksonville. With Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Dante Fowler, who was their first round pick last year before tearing his ACL in training camp, and the free agent signing of Malik Jackson, the future of the Jaguars defense looks very intriguing. They showed flashes in week one against one of the very best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers.
3 Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (3rd pick by the San Diego Chargers)
He was the first player outside of the quarterback position taken in the draft and with good reason. Joey Bosa was the captain of the Ohio State defense that was a big part of why the team won the inaugural college football playoff by defeating offensive powers, Alabama and Oregon.
During his time with the Buckeyes, he had a total of 148 tackles, including 51 for a loss, and 26 sacks. Many scouts thought he would be a good fit for the Cowboys, but he was snatched up by the Chargers a pick before the Cowboys could get him. He did hold out until August 28th to sign his rookie contract, which irked the Chargers, but in the long run, Bosa will turn out to be a defensive stud for them. He didn't play in week one, but when he gets on the field, look out.
2 Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (4th pick by the Dallas Cowboys)
The Cowboys struggled last year, due to Tony Romo being injured, but after losing DeMarco Murray to the rival Eagles in free agency, they did not have much of a running game either, which didn’t help their cause at all.
Many scouts thought that they could put any back behind their offensive line and they would have success. That clearly wasn’t the case. Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle didn’t have the type of success that Murray had and the offense didn’t pack the punch it had with Murray. So in the draft, the Cowboys addressed their running back problem and drafted Ezekiel Elliott out of Ohio State.
Elliott is an intriguing pick because he did at Ohio State what many NFL teams look for in a back by catching the football out of the backfield, as well as taking handoffs and making big plays. With Dak Prescott at quarterback and Elliott at running back with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten still in the offense, the Cowboys could be back in contention for taking back the NFC East title. Elliott wasn't terrific in week one, but still managed to find the end zone and has a bright future ahead of him.
1 Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State (2nd pick by the Philadelphia Eagles)
This number one spot was easy to fill. After trading their projected starting quarterback Sam Bradford to the Vikings a week before the season, it looks like the Philadelphia Eagles are fully invested in Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback of the future and of the current moment.
After the draft, new coach Doug Pederson made it clear that Sam Bradford was the starter at quarterback and that Wentz would sit out, or “redshirt” this season, but Wentz’s strong showing in training camp and ability to learn quickly obviously changed Pederson’s mind.
There are a lot of rookies that could have been at this number one spot, but Wentz is the man who will be running the offense in Philly without anybody trying to take his job. Many analysts are saying that the top two QBs in this years draft class in Jared Goff out of Cal and Wentz could be like the year Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning went first and second.
The Eagles are hoping they got the Peyton Manning out of the two and by recent transactions, Wentz will get his chance to prove that to them. He started off really well, throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns in his first start with no turnovers. The future looks bright in Philly.