NFL Rookie Watch: pre-training camp ranking


Every year there are several NFL rookies who make a major impact during their first year. This NFL Rookie Watch represents those rookies most likely to have the biggest and most immediate impact on their team. The main factors used to develop this ranking are talent, playing opportunity and team fit.

  1. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Winston is likely to be the opening day starter where he’ll have an opportunity to immediately produce. The Buccaneers roster isn’t ready to compete but things will be more exciting with Winston in the mix. Look for a lot of big plays down the field to talent wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.

  1. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders

One of the reasons the Raiders targeted Amari is because of his ability to immediately help second-year quarterback Derek Carr. Cooper is a terrific athlete who knows how to run clean routes. He should be able to quickly establish a relationship with Carr and have a big rookie season.

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  1. Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers

Melvin Gordon is an explosive playmaker who’s capable of being an every-down back. His only real competition for carries, Danny Woodhead, is coming off an ankle injury. Gordon is going to get a bulk of the touches and help the Chargers establish a sound running game.

  1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

Mariota is a little lower on this list because he still has to beat out Zach Mettenberger for the starting job. He’s likely to win that competition but there’s still a chance the Titans give the job to Mettenberger in order to ease Mariota’s transition.

  1. Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears

Chicago’s decision to trade Brandon Marshall created a need at the wide receiver position which they filled by taking Kevin White in the first round. White is an aggressive receiver who can stretch the field and work over the middle. He should see some single coverage early in the year with opposing defenses focusing on Alshon Jeffery.

  1. Leonard Williams, DL, New York Jets

The New York Jets crowded defensive line situation became less of an issue when Sheldon Richardson was handed a four-game suspension. This opens up an opportunity for Leonard Williams to get early playing time and establish himself as a force up front.

  1. Nelson Agholor, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are painfully thin at the wide receiver position which means they’re counting on early production from Nelson Agholor. He’s a great fit for Chip Kelly’s system because of his quickness and ability to create in space. Look for Agholor to be heavily featured in the screen game.

  1. Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings

Eric Kendricks didn’t waste much time establishing himself as the Vikings have already given him snaps with the first team. If in the starting lineup, Kendricks will quickly make his presence known thanks to great burst and ability to hold up in coverage.

  1. Vic Beasley, LB/DE, Atlanta Falcons

Last season, the Falcons defense recorded a terribly low amount of sacks with just 22. This is one of the reasons why they targeted a pass rusher early in the draft. Beasley is a well-rounded player capable of getting after the quarterback with both speed and power.

  1. AJ Cann, G, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars has one of the worst offensive line last year and made efforts this offseason to improve the unit. One of the underrated additions is rookie guard AJ Cann who is looking to win one of the guard positions. Cann is a good athlete who can protect the quarterback and generate a strong push in the run game.

Others under consideration: DeVante Parker- Miami Dolphins, Preston Smith- Washington Redskins, Ameer Abdullah- Detroit Lions, Randy Gregory- Dallas Cowboys, Jaelen Strong- Houston Texans