Football

5 NFL rookies who could become instant stars in 2018

The NFL always sees a handful of youngsters come in and make a household name for themselves from the jump. Last year, it was Kareem Hunt, Deshaun Watson and Alvin Kamara who stole the show. In particular Kareem Hunt, who ended up leading the league in rushing.

So who is going to step up? Here are five names to pay close attention to this autumn.

5. James Washington, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington fell to the second round, and the Pittsburgh Steelers wisely scooped him up. Pittsburgh has been tremendous in recent years at picking out talent on the outside, and Washington should be no exception. Slotting in as a third option alongside Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Washington is going to get his targets. At Oklahoma State, Washington had three 1,000-yard seasons including 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior.

 

Related: College Football Week 1 Notes

 

4. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos got a steal at the fifth-overall pick, selecting Bradley Chubb out of North Carolina State. Chubb was thought by many to be the best overall talent in the draft. Now, he goes to the Mile High City to pair with Von Miller. Considering Miller is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, he’ll continue to see double teams, allowing for Chubb to be in one-on-one situations. Look for him to threaten double-digits in sacks as a rookie.

 

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3. D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

Moore didn’t do much at the University of Maryland until his junior campaign, but the late-bloomer is showing ample skill that should translate into a nice NFL career. With the Terrapins a year ago, Moore notched 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns, putting him in position to be chosen in the first round. With only Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr. on the outside, Cam Newton will be looking for Moore early and often.

2. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets

The Jets got the best quarterback in the 2018 draft, and they are giving him the proverbial keys to the car right off the jump. Darnold is going to make mistakes like any other rookie, but he’ll lead the best Jets attack we’ve seen in years. New York still has to put more talent around him, but look for Darnold to elevate his roster and show why he’s the first true franchise quarterback that Gang Green has had since Joe Namath.

1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

If you’re talking about rookies who are going to make an impact, the man at the top of the list should always be a running back. Barkley is the consensus best back to come out this year and should be a threat for 1,000 yards behind a revamped offensive line that includes Nate Solder and fellow rookie Will Hernandez. With all the aerial threats at Eli Manning’s disposal, teams can’t crowd the line of scrimmage, giving Barkley opportunities to get loose in space.

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