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Eight NFL Rookies Fans Should Watch This Season


QB Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

The first overall pick of this past year’s draft had a lot of people questioning his ability going into the league, as well as some off-the-field behavioral issues he had throughout college at Oklahoma. Competing with Tyrod Taylor for the starting spot, Mayfield started the season as the backup quarterback, but midway through the third game against the Jets, Taylor had an injury, and Mayfield went in and won the game for the Browns. It was their first win in 624 days. Mayfield has lead the Browns to a 2-1 record since being in the lineup, throwing for 496 yards and two touchdowns.


RB Sony Michel, New England Patriots

The late first-round pick out of Georgia has found his way in the Bill Belichick system, being given the nod as the team’s first string running back. Michel had big shoes to fill left by former Patriots running back Dion Lewis, now with the Titans, but he has not shied away from the moment while playing in a fantastic system and with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history: Tom Brady. Michel has 294 rushing yards this season, more than double any other running back on the team and has run in two touchdowns.


RB Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos

One of the most surprising players of the season so far has been this undrafted rookie out of local Colorado. Lindsay had an incredible college career, totaling 4,859 yards from scrimmage and 39 touchdowns in his career. No one gave him a shot during the draft, so the local Broncos decided to do so. He played well in preseason, earning a spot on the 53-man roster. Lindsay broke an NFL record in his first two games, being the first ever undrafted player to go over 100 yards from scrimmage in his first two NFL games. Lindsay has run for 267 yards with one touchdown this season.


RB Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

The second overall pick out of Penn State had a lot of hype surrounding him coming into the season, even leading the NFL in jersey sales for a few weeks throughout the preseason. Barkley is an electric player who’s been compared to the likes of Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott and Barry Sanders. He has given the lowly Giants a boost that they needed for this year. Barkley has rushed for 260 yards on the season with 3 touchdowns.


WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

The first-round pick out of Alabama has found his rhythm and chemistry with former NFL MVP Matt Ryan, and has fit in well amongst the team’s other great receivers in Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. Ridley had a career game against the Saints in week three, catching seven passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns, a great fantasy day for those who have him on their roster. Ridley has 264 yards receiving on the season with six touchdowns, which leads the team.


RB Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos

The third-round pick out of Oregon is another outstanding young running back for the Broncos. Freeman, who is a local product of the San Diego area from Imperial High School, had an amazing career at Oregon, finishing as the sixth all-time leading rusher in NCAA College Football history with 5,621 yards in his four college seasons. Now for the Broncos, Freeman, who has scored a touchdown in three of the team’s fives games this year, has 219 rushing yards.


RB Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions

The rookie out of Auburn has taken over as the team’s leading back this season with consistent injuries from the likes of teammate Theo Riddick. With the help of Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount, the two have formed a good rushing duo for a 2-3 Lions team, whose two wins have surprisingly come against the Patriots and the Packers. Johnson has 216 yards rushing with one touchdown this season.


QB Sam Darnold, New York Jets

The third overall pick out of USC was awarded the starting job from the beginning of the year because what better way to learn than by immediately making on-the-fly adjustments to his game from college to the pros? Darnold threw a pick-six on his very first NFL pass but has dramatically recovered from that point forward. With high expectations on a Jets team that has been miserably bad these past few seasons, Darnold has accepted the role as the leader of the franchise. He has thrown for 868 yards through five games with four touchdown passes for the 2-3 Jets.


About the author

Dakota Campagna

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