By: Joe Cardoso
Eight weeks down and nine/ten weeks to go in this wild NFL season. As we expected COVID-19 has been a factor with players like Cam Newton and what seemed like half the Tennesse Titans going down. Should we even be playing games during a global pandemic is a conversation for another day. One thing that has been fun to watch is the play of rookies on both sides of the ball all over the league. Injuries have been crushing team’s seasons weekly and that has allowed first-year players to see the field and have an impact. If you have been following the NFL for a while you know that the draft is not an exact science for every JJ Watt or Nick Bosa you get a Mitch Trubisky or JaMarcus Russell. So who are the first-year players showing up and showing out so far this season?
Joe Burrow-Cincinnati Bengals: His offensive line is God awful but he still continues to ball out week in and week out. He makes it look so easy and the learning curve from LSU to the NFL lasted about one half. Please Bengals do right by him and get some help for this budding star.
Justin Herbert-Los Angeles Chargers: The way he got the job is still INSANE to me and Tyrod Taylor should be taking legal action, but once on the field the kid from Oregon is dealing and living up to the hype. When you start off playing the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Patrick Mahomes you find out quickly if this job is for you or not. Like most young QB’s he is playing behind a so so offensive line but has some real weapons on the outside. Is it just me or do we all hear The Mamas & The Papas “California Dreamin” in their head when this kid takes the field? Maybe I shared too much?
Clyde Edwards-Helaire-Kansas City Chiefs: After week 1 we all thought he was about to shatter records and add to an already deadly lineup. Like any rook, he stumbled a bit but what I saw on Sunday added Le’Veon Bell might have been the wakeup call he needed. Fewer carries will keep him fresh and he can learn alongside one of the best in the business, I trust Andy Reid and wonder kid Eric Bieniemy will find ways to get the ball in his hands.
James Robinson-Jacksonville Jaguars: Who? That is what all the league was saying when Robinson burst on the scene and has become the Jags top back. Undrafted and hungry he’s a great story and being on a team with little to no star power the stage is his for the taking.
Tristan Wirfs-Tampa Bay Buccaneers: His job is to help protect the GOAT and so far he has held his own and proven why he was taken at 13th overall.
Damien Lewis-Seattle Seahawks: When the Seahawks run the ball Lewis is a baaaaad man leaving bodies in his path, he must improve on pass protection and let Russell Wilson keep cooking.
Justin Jefferson-Minnesota Vikings: How good was this LSU team last year? I mean REALLY?! He has been a stud for the Vikings but just like the team itself, you need to see him be consistent. One thing is for sure he has all the makings of being a WR1.
CeeDee Lamb: Dallas Cowboys: Do NOT let the performance against Washington fool you. Lamb has been making some people forget about Amari Cooper. Losing star QB Dak Prescott and now Andy Dalton is a huge blow and it will be interesting to see how he handles it.
Tee Higgins-Cincinnati Bengals: AJ Green has not had the bounce back I thought he would, and John Ross is a combine star. Higgins continues to show how Clemson keeps turning out studs. Tee and Burrow should be a problem for the rest of the AFC North.
Chase Young-Washington Football Team: He may not have had a sack since Week 2 but to me, he still POPS when you play the tape. Still adjusting to the NFL game sky is the limit for Young but he has not lived up to the mega expectations WFT fans had for him so far.
Derrick Brown- Carolina Panthers: This young man won’t get a ton of shine because he plays D-line but he has been a beast for Carolina. Flying all over the place and beating double teams, I was one of the people who rolled his eyes at this pick. I want to say I’m sorry Derrick keep doing your thing son.
Antoine Walker Jr.- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cue up the Cash Money Records playlist because Antoine is clearly stunting like his daddy. With the front seven, the Bucs have it gives him a chance to just play worry-free and take some chances.
I also want to give love to Baltimore Ravens Lineback Patrick Queen and Jaylon Johnson of the Chicago Bears both are making plays and earning more playing time. With games being canceled and moved almost weekly the opportunities for rookies will be nonstop. The names on all these lists will change and guys will move up and down. One thing that’s for sure is that the NFL is not lacking for talent.
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