With the draft in our rearview mirror, everyone is in the middle of rookie drafts. Here is one writer’s opinion on how the rookies on offer stack up by position.
1. Ed Oliver, BUF
Oliver lands in a great spot to have a shot at becoming the next Geno Atkins as a pure inside pass rusher.
2. Christian Wilkins, MIA
Assuming Brian Flores runs a similar scheme to New England, this can be a very productive spot. Wilkins is a great talent and could be a steal in leagues that value all-round tackles.
3. Quinnen Williams, NYJ
There is a risk Williams is set as a DE which hurts his value – but he’s a star talent and should be an IDP asset.
4. Jerry Tillery, LAC
5. Dexter Lawrence, NYG
Lawrence is likely playing nose tackle for the Giants but he’s shown the ability to disrupt from there and he should walk into heavy volume.
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1. Nick Bosa, SF
Bosa is in a league of his own as the top player in this draft. It’ll be surprising if he doesn’t dominate early and often.
2. Clelin Ferrell, OAK
Being taken fourth overall gives us an idea of the faith his new team has in him. He’s instantly the top pass rusher on this team.
3. Brian Burns, CAR
Burns profiles as the Leo in the Panthers’ 4-3 Under scheme. In simpler terms – his job will be to pin his ears back and get after the QB with speed rushes.
4. Josh Allen, JAX
Allen has landed on a very talented line, but he is behind Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. They could both be gone in a year or two so Allen will get his chance sooner rather than later, but you’ll need some patience.
5. Montez Sweat, WAS
Sweat walks into a plum situation across from Ryan Kerrigan. He’s a very talented player and should have gone higher if it weren’t for his heart issue (he has been fully cleared). He will be an OLB but he’s headed for production on a monstrous line.
6. LJ Collier, SEA
Collier didn’t jump off the screen as a college athlete and his agility metrics are worrying. But he was hugely productive, and Pete Carroll knows a thing or two about edge rushers. He’s great value right now.
7. Rashan Gary, GB
The ultimate gamble in this class. Gary is an absolutely amazing physical specimen – but not a great player – yet. Classic boom/bust player.
8. Jeffery Simmons, TEN
Simmons is an interior player but a very good one and with first-round pedigree should get all the chance he needs to make the spot opposite Jurrell Casey his own.
9. Chase Winovich, NE
Winovich is one of the more fun players in this class to watch. He’ll wreak havoc when he’s on the field – but he’s unlikely to walk into starting-level snap volume.
10. Jachai Polite, NYJ
The depth chart is wide open and Polite was excellent last year. But he’s also (allegedly) a walking red flag with attitude issues and athletic concerns. Pick him and cross your fingers.
1. Devin Bush, PIT
The Steelers clearly believe that Bush is their replacement for Ryan Shazier. He’s a top athlete and can fly around the field piling up stats in this scheme. Don’t expect production on a par with the 2018 LB class but he’s the top option for immediate returns.
2. Devin White, TB
White walks into Kwon Alexander’s old role and has the chance to post similar numbers. The Buccaneers must think he’s a transformative player given they took him at fourth overall.
3. Germaine Pratt, CIN
Beyond the two Devins, every player on this list is a gamble. Pratt probably has the easiest route to playing time as well as third-round draft capital. He’s a mobile, three-down player.
4. Jahlani Tavai, DET
Tavani was a second-round pick but enters a muddy depth chart in a tough scheme to excel in. Expect a poor man’s Kyle Van Noy numbers as a career upside.
5. Sione Takitaki, CLE
The Browns picked two inside LBs and seem to have some concerns about their existing options. Takitaki is an athletic, versatile, mobile player who will be gunning for Chris Kirksey’s job.
6. Cody Barton, SEA
Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright seem set, but the Seahawks picked two inside LBs with Barton going relatively high. Wagner’s contract is up in a year’s time so Barton is a good taxi squad stash option.
7. Bobby Okereke, IND
Who played next to Darius Leonard last year? Ugh. It was Anthony Walker. He played about 80% of snaps so there’s likely not a full-time job on offer but we’ve seen good production from Colts LBs in the last year.
8. Blake Cashman, NYJ
Cashman is an exciting player (albeit with tiny arms and some resulting tacking issues) but lands in a tough spot after he dropped in the draft. He’ll have to sit behind Avery Williamson, CJ Mosley and Darron Lee (for now) before he gets a chance to play.
9. Drue Tranquill, LAC
Tranquill is a hugely exciting player but lands on a Chargers team flush with very similar flexible, mobile players. He could easily end up with some value (we’ve seen Adrian Phillips do well) but it’s not likely.
10. Quincy Williams, JAX
There are rumours of the Jaguars and Telvin Smith maybe not being sympatico and the Jags invested in a pair of LBs. Williams is a deep stash.
1. Deandre Baker, NYG
The only thing you need to really think about for corners is volume. Baker walks into a good spot to get some immediate playing time and it would surprise no one for the Giants to play a hefty team snap count.
2. Byron Murphy, ARI
Murphy walks into the coveted opposite-Patrick-Peterson IDP spot.
3. Rock Ya-Sin, IND
Ya-Sin has a good chance to crack what is a wide but shallow corner corps in Indy. A bit like a carpark puddle.
4. Trayvon Mullen, OAK
As the Raiders rebuild the defense from the bottom up, there are snaps available. They clearly believe strongly in Mullen and it should result in playing time.
5. Greedy Williams, CLE
It was surprising to see him fall as far as he did but the depth chart at corner in Cleveland is very crackable, and the spot opposite Denzel Ward is there for the taking.
1. Johnathan Abram, OAK
Abram is at his best when hitting things in the box. His style and first-round pedigree point towards a productive future. Although it’s worth noting that traditionally this is not a safety-friendly scheme.
2. Darnell Savage, GB
Savage also went in the first round but is less of clear-cut projection as a pro. He’ll get plenty of opportunities, but he’ll need to be used in the right way to be really effective as an IDP.
3. Juan Thornhill, KC
Tyrann Mathieu is a Chief this season so much will depend on how the two are used. Steve Spagnuolo has traditionally used a SS/FS partnership but with two versatile players like this, he might move that on a bit.
4. Marquise Blair, SEA
Blair was the third safety selected and is a natural box player. He’s got a tough depth chart to crack but could potentially be the most productive player on this list if he can win the starting SS job.
5. Will Harris, DET
6. Taylor Rapp, LAR
The Rams invested in Rapp and there are two likely reasons. Firstly, they want to develop him behind Eric Weddle. Rapp can do the same sort of things Weddle can. Secondly, they want him to play nickel LB – in either Mark Barron or Marquis Christian’s role from 2018. Both are potentially intriguing jobs for Rapp.
7. Mike Edwards, TB
With Justin Evans a natural deep safety, the Bucs are on the lookout for a strong safety (the Jamal Adams role in Todd Bowles’ defense). Edwards has a tough battle on his hands but could win that job.
8. Nasir Adderley, LAC
Adderley will play single-high center-field as a Charger. It’s not a good role but he will likely walk into starting snaps, which makes him useful in deeper leagues.
9. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, NO
He’s a great talent and has intriguing versatility – but the Saints secondary is a tough unit for him to land a starting spot. Expect Gardner-Johnson to fil in where required as a safety or slot DB as a rookie.
10. Sheldrick Redwine, CLE
Redwine really has Morgan Burnett to take on for a starting role. Burnett isn’t getting any younger and Redwine is more than just a cool name. He’s likely to be relevant at some time this season.
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