2018 NFL Breakout Stars

These rookies are poised to become household names

by Contributing NFL writer Brian Akins @BrianWNML Mail@3PSMag.com

The 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone and now we are only a week away from the start of the season.  Each year analysts observe to see which rookies are capable of having the most impacts on their teams.  I have done the same and I am going to list my top five most impactful rookies for this season.

  1. Calvin Ridley WR – Pick #26 to Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons added to their receiving corps that already has Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu.  During Ridley’s three years at Alabama, he had 224 receptions, 2,781 yards and 19 touchdowns.  I believe that adding a productive receiver with Julio Jones who has tallied 43 touchdowns in his seven year career, will help the Falcons mismatch against their opponents.  If you lineup Jones and Ridley opposite of each other, I think that forces the defense to double team Ridley or Jones which allows the other to be left open or forces the safety to come over and attempt to cover them.  Calvin Ridley has the opportunity to be highly productive in his rookie season, and can help Matt Ryan and this offense raise the bar.

  1. Baker Mayfield QB – Pick #1 to Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns took another quarterback with their first overall pick in the draft, but despite the Johnny Manziel comparisons Mayfield looks to have his head on straight and ready to compete in the NFL.  During his three years at Oklahoma, Mayfield tallied 808 completions, 12,292 yards and 119 touchdowns.  Mayfield competed in the 2018 Rose Bowl appearance against the Georgia Bulldogs, which went into overtime in a 54-48 shootout.  In three preseason games in the NFL, Mayfield logged 26 completions, 363 yards and two touchdowns.  I believe that Baker Mayfield will be the starter for the Browns by week four, and when he takes over for Tyrod Taylor I think that Mayfield has the competitive edge to help this Browns squad tally three to four wins.  Baker will have help at receiver with Jarvis Landry, David Djoku, Josh Gordon and Antonio Callaway.  In my opinion, Baker Mayfield has the athletic ability and the arm to help Cleveland win at least four games in the 2018 season.  I also have confidence that the combination of Mayfield and Landry could be one of the most flashy QB to WR pairs in the NFL.

  1. Roquan Smith LB – Pick #8 to Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears added a little bit of depth to their linebacking corps by drafting Roquan Smith with their eighth overall pick in the draft.  Now that Smith has gotten past the contract issues, he has been added as the number one guy at the left inside linebacker position.  I believe that Smith is the best defensive player that came out of the 2018 draft.  While at Georgia Roquan Smith had 252 tackles and 6.5 sacks.  I believe that the Bears will be set at the interior linebacker position with the addition of Smith.  Chicago currently has Danny Trevathan at the right inside linebacker position and in the 3-4 defense that gives the Bears a stout pair of inside backers that are solid at stopping the run.  Roquan Smith is one of the few players that came out of this draft that I believe is completely NFL ready, so I believe that overall Smith will have an immense impact on the Bears’ success on defense.

  1. Saquon Barkley RB – Pick #2 to New York Giants

The New York Giants filled their biggest need in the 2018 draft by selecting running back Saquon Barkley with the number two overall pick.  Barkley, who tallied 671 rushes, 3,843 yards and 43 touchdowns at Penn State, is no doubt the best running back on the Giants roster.  Therefore, drafting Barkley was the best first round move that the Giants could make.  I believe that Saquon Barkley will be highly effective and impactful for the Giants in his rookie season.  I would go as far to say that Barkley has the ability to win Rookie of the Year this season because of how impactful he can be.  I look for the Giants to adjust their offense and tailor to Barkley by throwing to him out of the backfield and even potentially slide him out to the slot position to use his abilities all over the field.  Overall I believe that the Giants won the draft by selecting Saquon Barkley and I would predict him to put on a show and tally over 1,000 yards rushing this season.

  1. Quenton Nelson OG – Pick #6 to Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts drafted their future when they selected Quenton Nelson with their sixth overall pick in the 2018 draft.  I believe that Nelson has the pure talent to be the Joe Thomas for the Colts, a lineman that is nasty and tough for years.  The reason I picked Nelson as my number one most impactful rookie is because he is 6-5, 330 pounds and the fastest way to the quarterback is through the middle of the line.  Nelson was the best offensive lineman on his Notre Dame team, and he has great power, he is built like a tank with great arms and hands and he is large, but not fat.  That is a great addition to this line to help protect Luck.  Andrew Luck played in his first NFL action in almost two years in preseason week one against the Seattle Seahawks.  With focus on Luck being inactive for almost two years, the impact that Nelson can have for this offensive line has the potential to be immense.  Quenton Nelson has the natural ability to be a staple for this Colt offensive line.  Nelson’s talent, size, ability and who he now plays for is the reason that I picked him to be the number one most impactful rookie.




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