With the NFL season just days away, all of the offseason hype and drama will be forgotten as we finally get to see some real football from Thursday.
All summer, we’ve talked about rookies and their potential, but when the first week of action kicks off, we’re usually given a quick reminder that many aren’t ready for the big time just yet.
However, there are some players who simply won’t be denied, and many rookies who are worth keeping a close eye on. We’ve listed six players with bright futures who are worth keeping a close eye on.
Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns
The number one overall pick in the NFL draft is already making his presence felt on the Cleveland defense, with the Browns looking like a young team on the rise. Through four preseason games, the Browns only allowed 29 points, which led the league, and their new stars were making plays all over the field.
Garrett registered just the one sack but, more importantly, was causing havoc by flying off the edge and throwing offensive lineman around. He is set to have a huge impact in Cleveland.
T.J. Watt, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Watt, Houston Texan J.J.’s younger brother, snuck into the first round of the draft when he was taken by Pittsburgh 30th overall, but has been impressing ever since.
He stole the headlines with a pair of sacks in his first action with the team in week one of the preseason, and has continued to look solid since. He’s currently attempting to beat out 14-year veteran James Harrison for an outside linebacker’s slot and, while the long-time Steeler won’t go easily, we might see a changing of the guard in Pittsburgh sooner rather than later.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette leads a strong 2017 class or backs who are bringing runners back to the forefront of the NFL. However, despite being selected fourth overall – the same spot Ezekiel Elliott was taken by the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 – it’s fair to temper early expectations for the rook.
While he’s a supremely talented runner, he’s behind an average offensive line, certainly in comparison to the Cowboys, and part of an attack led by struggling QB Blake Bortles. At the very least, he’ll see a lot of the ball – the team will want to feed the rock to the powerful, explosive back as much as possible.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Once revered as the best back in college football, Cook slipped to Minnesota in the second round after a poor combine showing and question marks about his off-field character.
He might, however, be the steal of the draft and, with an injury to presumed starter Latavius Murray, Cook has already seen extensive action with the first team. He fits right in, and don’t be surprised if he’s in the running for offensive rookie of the year by the season’s end. Could he be set to fill the Adrian Peterson sized hole left behind in Minnesota?
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
One of the most electrifying college prospects in recent years, McCaffrey has turned heads all summer long. He was breaking defenders’ ankles in training camp and followed that up with strong preseason performances.
Jonathan Stewart is the lead early-down back, but ‘Run CMC’ is more than capable of stealing work between the tackles. Also, while Kelvin Benjamin is the top receiver on the depth chart, McCaffrey might actually be the best pass-catcher on the team. The Panthers have a true offensive weapon out of the backfield – he’s going to be a joy to watch.
Jermaine Eluemunor, OT, Baltimore Ravens
Inexperienced British-born Eluemunor’s journey from London to the NFL is nothing short of remarkable. After being inspired by the first International Series game back in 2007, he fought for a future in the NFL and was rewarded by the Baltimore Ravens with a selection in the fifth round of this year’s draft.
Eluemunor will begin his career as a backup and have to fight his way into a starting role but, while we might not hear too much from him in year one, he’s set to be a starter down the road.
Watch the first game of the new NFL season as reigning Super Bowl champions New England Patriots host Kansas City Chiefs in Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Action from 12.30am.
New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs
September 8, 2017, 12:30am
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