NFL 2018: Top Immediate Rookie Impacts
By T.J. Martinez
Special to Pro Football Guru
Each year, there are players that come into the league and look shell-shocked by the faster paced game and are treated more as projects than instant game-changers. With the NFL season upon us, these are the rookies that will have an immediate positive impact on for their respective teams. These performers will come into Week 1 and hit the ground running.
1. RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
By ending their 2017 campaign with a 3-13 finish and in the process benching their two-time Super Bowl champion
Quarterback in December, the New York Giants were in desperate need of some stability. Enter Saquon Barkley, the former running back for the Penn State Nittany Lions. He joins a team that ranked 26th in the NFL in rushing yards per game (96.8). Barkley will take some of the pressure off of Manning, who finished the season with just 19 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions. He should open up the field for superstar Odell Beckham Jr. and other talented targets such as wide receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram.
2. OLB Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos
Despite being in the top five of most defensive categories, the Broncos ranked 22nd in points allowed per game this past season. An unstable offense and having to defend a short field in a lot of instances, the Broncos needed to make a change. They went out this offseason and got a capable quarterback in Case Keenum and drafted Bradley Chubb from North Carolina State University.
Chubb was the first defensive lineman taken in the 2018 draft but will make the conversion to outside linebacker in Denver’s defense. He figures to wreak havoc starting from Week 1. Playing opposite of perennial Pro Bowler Von Miller and having one of the best secondaries in the NFL behind him, Chubb could help improve a five-win team last season and make them a potential participant.
3. DT Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs had a lot of hype going into the 2017 season and didn’t live up to any of it. Their defense ranked last in the league in yards allowed per game, last in passing yards per contest and 23rd in rushing defense. This is a unit that features starts such as Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander but still seemed to struggle.
Vita Vea was drafted 11tg by the Buccaneers and should help McCoy on the inside of the line immensely. The team also went out and got defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to help. The Buccaneers totaled only 22 sacks in 2017, the lowest total in the league.
Vea and Pierre-Paul should take enough pressure of McCoy for the defense to greatly improve. However, they still have holes in their secondary. The Bucs might be in for another long season but will definitely see improvement on the defensive side.
QB Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
The Joe Flacco Era in Baltimore seems to be coming to a very quick end. Lamar Jackson came into rookie camp and immediately turned heads. He received praise from not only his coaches, but former NFL quarterback Mike Vick, who Jackson is already being compared to. With a big arm and Vick-like speed, Jackson could be the playmaker Baltimore needs to turn its ship around.
T.J. Martinez is a sports writer from Tampa, FL. He received his Masters in Public Relations at theUniversity of Miami (FL). You can follow him on Twitter at @tj_m39.