The 2017 NFL Draft was viewed as being deep with talent. Many of those players are already starters in the league and are making a difference for their teams. You can already see how the rookies are impacting NFL betting odds for the games this weekend.
Rookie quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer are already starting games. Watson looks like a future superstar and Kizer is doing his best despite being on a bad team (sorry Browns). The Bears announced they will start rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky this weekend against the Vikings. It looks like the Bears are giving him the job permanently now they saw what QB Mike Glennon could do, which wasn’t much at all.
- Deshaun Watson (Texans) – 811 passing yards with 9 TDs
- DeShone Kizer (Browns) – 764 passing yards with 4 TDs
You can’t list the best players in the entire NFL without mentioning running back Kareem Hunt. He made a name for himself in his first game. The Chiefs have the best offense in the league thanks to Hunt’s hands and legs.
Hunt isn’t sucking up all the oxygen in the room, since many other running backs are getting attention for their production. Chicago RB Tarik Cohen is leading all rookies with 24 receptions with 150+ yards in both rushing and receiving. Another versatile back Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey is second amount rookies in receptions with 22 and is leading all rookies with 206 receiving yards.
Other rookies contributing are Leonard Fournette with 285 rushing yards, Elijah McGuire with 156 rushing yards and Joe Mixon with136 rushing yards. Dalvin Cook and Chris Carson would have been featured here, but both suffered season-ending injuries. We wish them a speedy recovery.
- Kareem Hunt (Chiefs) – 502 rushing yards – 151 receiving yards – 6 TDs
- Dalvin Cook (Vikings) – 344 rushing yards – 2 TDs
- Leonard Fournette (Jaguars) – 285 rushing yards – 125 receiving yards – 4 TDs
- Chris Carson (Seahawks) – 208 rushing yards
- Tarik Cohen (Bears) – 181 rushing yards – 150 receiving yards
- Elijah McGuire (Jets) – 156 rushing yards
- Joe Mixon (Bengals) – 136 rushing yards
Receivers and tight ends haven’t been as impactful, but a few have broken out and are making a name for themselves. WRs Cooper Kupp and Trent Taylor are having success as slot receivers. I expect they will be used to a greater extent as the season moves forward. I should also mention JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has already caught two touchdowns for the Steelers.
Rookie tight ends are actually getting more action than wide receivers, which is odd for a draft class. Even Engram, Gerald Everett, David Njoku and Jonnu Smith are being used perfectly as red zone targets early this season. Engram looks like a future pro bowler. I should also mention that O.J. Howard has yet to do a lot for Tampa Bay, but he’s a stud who will undoubtedly have success going forward.
- Evan Engram (Giants) – 19 catches – 200 yards – 1 TD
- Cooper Kupp (Rams) – 14 catches – 186 yards – 2 TDs
- Gerald Everett (Rams) – 5 catches – 142 yards
- Trent Taylor (49ers) – 11 catches – 47 yards – 1 TD
- George Little (49ers) – 10 catches – 83 yards
- David Njoku (Browns) – 9 catches – 70 yards – 2 TDs
- JuJu Smith-Schuster (Steelers) – 8 catches – 102 yards – 1 TD
- Kenny Golladay (Lions) – 7 catches – 102 yards – 2 TDs
- Jonnu Smith – 3 catches – 54 yards – 2 TDs
There haven’t been many defensive stars that have come out of his draft class, yet. LBs Kendall Beckwith (Bucs), Hassan Reddick (Cardinals) and T.J. Watt (Steelers) have been the star rookie linebackers early this season. Beckwith and Reddick are expert tacklers and Watt has looked like his older brother at times.
Defensive backs were the star of the 2017 NFL Draft. The position was deep beyond belief. A few are already looking like the cream of the crop. Safety Malik Hooker (Colts) already has three interceptions. CB Tre’Davious White (Bills) is a great tackler at his nickel cornerback position. He already has 21 tackles, which is second among all rookies. Also, CB Shaqill Griffen (Seahawks) has been an excellent addition to the Legion of Boom.
I expect this rookie class will be among the best in recent years.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.