5 NFL rookies who should shine in 2020By Matt Verderame
5. Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams rely heavily on a ground game to keep from exposing Jared Goff. After moving on from Todd Gurley this offseason, Los Angeles general manager Les Snead used a second-day pick on Florida State running back Cam Akers. Last year, Akers ran for 1,144 yards on 5.0 yards per carry, scoring 14 touchdowns. He added another four scores in the passing game.
Look for Akers to get plenty of touches for the Rams as a rookie, putting him in position to garner some Offensive Rookie of the Year consideration.
4. Kenneth Murray, LB, Los Angeles Chargers
Turn on the tape of Kenneth Murray at Oklahoma last season, and you see someone with the agility, size and speed to be a Day 1 starter in the NFL. Playing behind one of the best fronts in football inlacing Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Linval Joseph and Jerry Tillery, Murray will be kept clean, allowing him to make plays. He should be an impact player from the jump in Los Angeles.
3. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
After trading Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills this offseason, Minnesota needed to find a replacement It did so with general manager Rick Spielman landing Justin Jefferson in the first round. The LSU product was the most prolific weapon for Joe Burrow on the national champs last year, catching 111 passes for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.
With Adam Thielen and Dalvin Cook taking plenty of attention and resources from opposing defenses, look for Jefferson to star immediately in Minnesota.
2. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Redskins
A two-year starter with the Ohio State Buckeyes, Young comes into the league as the most polished pass-rusher of the class. Young was dominant in the Big Ten last season, notching 21 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks in 12 games for the conference champions. Going to the Redskins, he’ll be playing alongside a litany of former first-round picks including Ryan Kerrigan, Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen.
It would be surprising if Young doesn’t get most if not all of the Defensive Rookie of the Year votes come season’s end.
1. Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Burrow is the clear choice for No. 1 here. He’s actually surrounded by a terrific group of weapons in Cincinnati with receivers A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, and running back Joe Mixon. The defense is also underwhelming, which likely means Burrow is darkening the sky with footballs. He’s going to put up monster year in the Queen City.