The 2018 NFL Draft is now a thing of the past. Which means it’s time to focus on which prospects will possibly make the biggest impact this season on the offensive side of the ball. Before we get started, let’s pinpoint some dark horse candidates for NFL Rookie of the Year.
Dark Horse Candidates
RB Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Jones was one of the more underrated prospects in the entire draft and Tampa found a gem at 38th overall. Jones is probably the best running back on the roster at the current moment for a team that was 27th in rushing last season. Expect to see Jones on the field very early.
WR DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars – The deep threat out of LSU joins a Jaguars team that lost their top two wideouts in free agency and the roster itself does not have a legitimate No. 1 option at the position. Chark’s size and speed can stand out amongst the rest in Jacksonville.
WR DJ Moore, Carolina Panthers – A new offensive coordinator for the Panthers means an emphasis on the passing game for Carolina. The drafting of Moore at 24th overall gives the Panthers a potential No. 1 receiver and if quarterback Cam Newton can find his footing in the new offense, Moore may find himself a significant contributor.
RB Sony Michel, New England Patriots – Michel’s versatility is a natural fit in the Patriots scheme and despite having to share the room with a number of running backs, Michel has the upper hand over any other running back in terms of talent. Michel could have an Alvin Kamara-like impact for New England next season.
Rookie of the Year Candidates
QB Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals – This is a testament to how soon I expect to see Rosen on the field this season. Not only is he the most pro-ready quarterback in the class, but the two quarterbacks ahead of him (Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon) are unreliable at this stage in their careers. Rosen will have a top-10 running back in David Johnson, a consistent vet at wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and an underrated rookie in Christian Kirk at his disposal. The Cardinals will have a rough trek within the NFC West, but Rosen could take the field and post some respectable numbers with what he has to work with.
WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons – In what was a surprise pick for Atlanta, they picked up what some feel is the best receiver in the entire draft class. Ridley will see the field on day one in Atlanta, and will look to man the slot position that was left vacant by the departure of veteran Taylor Gabriel. Ridley has the talent to be a force in the slot due to his quickness and technical ability, and even with the amount of weapons in Atlanta, he has a prime opportunity to post great numbers.
RB Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins – The 224-pound stick of dynamite fell into the hands of the Redskins thanks to pre-draft chatter about his attitude towards the game and certain teams. Nonetheless, Washington gets a top-15 talent at a position that does not have a clear top option on the roster. Guice will be given every opportunity to win the job, and best believe, he is capable of being a 1,000 yard rusher this season.
QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns – This year’s top overall draft pick walks into a really good situation believe it or not. I get that veteran Tyrod Taylor will probably be the early favorite as the starter, but it’s hard to envious Mayfield not getting considerable playing time. With the weapons around him (Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb), Mayfield could have a very comfortable learning curve which may parlay into impressive numbers.
RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants – At No. 2 overall, the Giants decided to take arguably the best player in the entire NFL draft. There is no question that Barkley is the best talent the Giants have had at running back in a long time. There is also no denying that Barkley will see favorable defenses with so much attention on teammate Odell Beckham Jr. Don’t be caught off guard if Barkley eclipses over 1,000 scrimmage yards well before the season is complete.