Each season, the NFL manages to produce new stars as older ones fade out. Just this past season players such as; Chris Godwin, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Derrick Henry, who were/are on their rookie deals and have finally produced after taking time to adjust. It can also be rookies who are in great positions to succeed. The three mentioned above broke out to Superstardom last season and while some players on this list have the ability to reach that level, these are players who can have a significant impact on their team’s upcoming season.
Bengals: Joe Burrow (QB) – Burrow is surrounded by plenty of weapons to boost his career path. With Joe Mixon taking pressure off in the backfield, Burrow has a solid selection of weapons at WR with; Green, Boyd, Ross, Tate, Higgins.
Browns: Mack Wilson (LB) – With Joe Schobert no longer on the Browns, they need a new leader in the middle. Mack Wilson showed plenty of athleticism throughout his rookie year and has the tools to build upon that.
Ravens: Hollywood Brown (WR) – Starting the season hot last year, Brown never really got beyond that point finishing with less than 600 Receiving yards in 14 games. Dealing with nagging injuries hampered him a bit, however, another year with MVP Lamar Jackson promises a bigger season for the Ravens Receiver.
Steelers: Devin Bush (LB) – Devin Bush no doubt had a great rookie season last year. He showed the ability to stuff the run, cover, and do anything in-between teams look for in LB play. His addition, along with Minkah Fitzpatrick, helped change the Steelers defense into a top 10 unit.
Patriots: N’Keal Harry (WR) – Bill Belichick prefers to not play rookies unless he feels they understand his playbook. Harry struggled to get playtime after recovering from an injury early in the season but showed plenty of flashes when targeted. A motivated Cam Newton will be trying to a strong connection with the young receiver.
Dolphins: Mike Gesiki (TE) – Mike Gesiki has all the tools to be a top receiving TE in the NFL. considering all he has had to play within the Dolphins organization. Adding Tua as his QB and building that rapport will be vital.
Bills: Ed Oliver (DT) – Oliver once was being compared to Aaron Donald. While not at Aaron’s level, he did help the Bills have a top-ranked defense in the NFL. Another year learning pass rush and he will be a problem.
Jets: Chris Herndon (TE) – With the Jets off-season moves, there are few targets to throw to for Sam Darnold. Herndon showed promise this past season in the passing and blocking games. He still has room to improve but an expanded role with more targets should help him take the next step.
Colts: Parris Campbell (WR) – Campbell struggled in his first year in the league. With Phillip Rivers stepping in to provide better QB play than what was offered last year, Campbell has the athleticism and ability to thrive in this offense.
Texans: Ross Blacklock (DT) – After the departure of D.J. Reader this off-season, the Texans went into the draft with holes to fill on the defensive line. Adding Blacklock is a solid addition with good movement skills enough strength to play DT from day one.
Titans: Jeffery Simmons (DE/DT) – Despite starting last season on the IR with a torn ACL, Jeffry Simmons’s impact on the Titans play last season helped them reach the AFC Championship game and to move on from former Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey.
Jaguars: Ronnie Harrison (S) – Jacksonville is clearly in a rebuild and this makesit hard to find any up and coming players for their squad. Ronnie Harrison played in a reserve role earlier in his career and now is being tasked with managing a secondary that lost AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.
Chiefs: Willie Gay Jr. (LB) – The Chiefs added LB Willie Gay in the second round of this year’s draft. Gay’s addition brings a much-needed boost of athleticism and ability to play sideline to sideline and aggression to play in the hole. Both are aspects that Chiefs LBs have lacked for a couple of years now.
Chargers: Nassir Adderley (S) – Adderley has the perfect skill set to play in the Chargers Cover 3 scheme. He can play the deep ball along with cutting off some shorter routes as well. With a crowded secondary in LA, Adderley has an opportunity to play deep Safety for them.
Broncos: Noah Fant (TE) – Adding several offensive weapons and protection for Drew Lock, Fant was the one who saw a major uptick in production once Lock came in. Fant also ran a 4.54 40 yard-dash, with solid route running and good hands he can be a match-up problem.
Raiders: Maxx Crosby (DE) – Maxx Crosby was on the cusp of truly breaking out last season with a team-leading 10 sacks. A fourth-round selection, he was not getting the recognition a 10 sack rookie should get. As long as he continues to improve on his rookie season, it will not take long for him to break out next season.
Bears: Cole Kmet (TE) – Despite having an excessive amount of TE’s, the Bears, go out and draft the top-ranked TE prospect in the second round. Regardless of Foles or Trubisky starting, both like to throw to their TE’s. Great position for him to earn the starting job and building a rapport with the starting QB.
Packers: Darnell Savage (S) – Last year’s first-round selection had ups and downs as a rookie. With the addition of Adrian Amos opposite Savage, his role was expanded for a rookie on a team 1 win away from the Superbowl. Green Bay will need him to help solidify the secondary if they have hopes of surpassing last season.
Vikings: Justin Jefferson (WR) – Already off to a rough start, Jefferson was reported to have been placed on the NFL Reserves/COVID-19 list. With the departure of Stefon Diggs, Jefferson has a clear path to playtime and the opportunity to match his ability as long as he is healthy and willing to play.
Lions: Jeff Okudah (CB) – Okudah is the real deal. Trading away Pro Bowler Darius Slay comfortably despite having a weak secondary is brave. The Lions believe in Okudah’s overall skillset and complete game to shut down one side of the field from day one.
Giants: Darius Slayton (WR) – Slayton was a nice surprise for a Giants team looking for answers post OBJ. Slayton developed into a solid option for Daniel Jones in their first year together. More time together should further both player’s development and chemistry together.
Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb (WR) – The top Wide Out on many scouts boards, Lamb fell to a strong situation. Surrounded by weapons and big names he will have less attention put on him from the defense. This will create more opportunities where Lamb can and will execute.
Eagles: Miles Sanders (RB) – With Jordan Howard now in Miami, Miles Sanders now has a clear path to the starting position. An injury-ridden season for the Eagles provided many challenges on the offensive side. A healthier team with more options should open lanes for Sanders to run through.
Washington: Chase Young (DE) – Young is touted to be better than the Bosa brothers. More athletically gifted than them, he is still learning the technique of the position, although he can more than handle his own. Being the top player in the draft that had Joe Burrow, he goes to Washington with a deep D-Line rotation.
Falcons – Isaiah Oliver (CB) – The Falcons secondary has had issues with health and performance the past couple of seasons. Losing Trufant will only make the process harder. Isaiah Oliver is primed to be the starting Corner for the Falcons this upcoming season in a division with Brees, Brady, and Bridgewater he will have to show he is a star to have Atlanta compete.
Buccaneers – Sean Murphy-Bunting (CB) – Seeing the Bucs defensive improvements under Todd Bowles last season was spectacular. A unit that struggled in 2018 became a top 10 unit in one season. Strong secondary play from young corners like Bunting was arguably the most surprising aspect of the turnaround. Bunting should be able to work more on his ball-hawking skills to take the next step.
Saints – Marcus Davenport (DE) – Entering year three, Davenport has yet to live up to the lofty price of two first-round picks the Saints gave up for him. The physical aspect has never been in question for Davenport, it’s the technical aspect of his game that has been needing help. This season should offer plenty of opportunity opposite Cameron Jordan.
Panthers – Jeremy Chinn (S/LB) – I have high hopes for Jeremy Chinn in Carolina. An athletic freak closer to Isaiah Simmons rather just a pure safety. He can play multiple positions in the back seven. His versatility will be key in how successful he will be.
Cardinals – Byron Murphy (CB) – Arizona’s search for a number two next to Pat Peterson has gone for years since DRC. Byron Murphy had a strong rookie season in the NFC West. The versatility to be able to play either on the inside or outside will help Arizona scheme around deficiencies that a slot only corner cannot offer. Although better in the slot he can handle duties out wide.
Rams – Taylor Rapp (S) – Eric Weddle has officially retired from football and leaves a massive hole in the Rams secondary. Second-year Safety Taylor Rapp was impressive in his role behind John Johnson and Weddle last season. Rapp appears to be the next man up for the starting position and his ability shown in limited action is impressive.
Seahawks – Jordan Brooks (LB) – Adding depth, athleticism, and physical play was what Seattle went with in the first round this off-season. Selecting Brooks one pick in ahead of Patrick Queen was a bit of a head-scratcher for most but Seattle got their guy. Playing him along with Wagner and Wright will create a fast, strong, and intelligent LB core.
49ers – Dre Greenlaw (LB) – Everything about Brooks can be copied right here except for that Greenlaw has a season of solid play under his belt. Although outshined by the names next to him in Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander, Greenlaw is no slouch of his own with solid tackling, coverage, and play recognition as a rookie.