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10 NFL rookies already looking like draft day steals

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    AP Photo/Morry Gash

Help for the NFL roster can come from unexpected places.

Last season, the Detroit Lions’ roster looked like a barren wasteland of wide receiver talent. Fourth-round pick Amon-Ra St. Brown became Detroit’s primary receiver and tied for 15th in the league with 90 catches.

The 112th overall pick came into the league as a slot machine receiver on the edge of straight-line speed. However, St. Brown took advantage of the opportunity laid out in front of him and performed well.

“If you’re in the NFL, you’re part of the one percent again,” former Indianapolis Colts cornerback Tony Brown entered the league as an undrafted free agent, he told the Athletics’ Bob Kravitz. “To do this, you have to be one percent of one percent. It’s a challenge.”

When everyone is on the court, a player’s draft status is just a number.

Once a rookie shows where he belongs, he has the opportunity to contribute. Often, those expectations are immediately placed on first- and second-round selections. Not so for those who heard their names in rounds three through seven. Still, some people do it.

The ten rookies selected outside of the first two games of the year have become potential instant impact performers and even starters. Their respective teams appear to be making the right investments and looking to benefit from these draft-day steals.

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Bob Levy/Getty Images

The Houston Texans’ decision to release veteran running back Marlon Mike lays the groundwork for fourth-round pick Dameon Pierce will be The team’s primary ball handler.

Mike signed a free agency deal to join the Texans this offseason, looking like clearing the top option. Instead, the Houston Brass saw something special in this year’s 107th overall pick.

Pierce was part of Florida State’s rotation and amassed 329 carries for 1,806 yards and 23 touchdowns. While the 5-foot-10, 218-pound guard has never been asked to play a full-time role before, his idiosyncrasy and lack of relative wear and tear is a fine item for NFL teams. He’s already been named the top running back in the preseason, per Pro Football Focus.

“In today’s NFL, we’re kind of Got chased by the committee, but you want to cut it off,” Pierce told reporters in June. “So I feel like, with my usage and my productivity, how it fits into the NFL, it’s well planned, which means I can put up decent numbers on a couple of carries and less one usage overall. So It’s definitely a plus for me, especially my role on the special team – which also plays a role.”

The Texans see an explosive back with a strong running style and swing a little through the hole to punish or mock defenders. Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy noted that Pierce posted the fastest in-game GPS speed during the game, which occurred during the opening kickoff. Special teams games often show coaches seeing individuals who can help elsewhere place.

“You’re looking at what the players can do,” said Texans offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. “There are so many different offenses in college football, and sometimes it’s hard to predict how a player who plays in one program will adjust and adapt to the professional game. But we do know that certain skill sets are more likely to adapt to our game.”

Speed, resilience, vision and team-first mentality certainly meet the criteria for adaptive skills.

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    AP Photo/Scott Tucker

    A rookie who gets more attention than back-to-back NFL MVP, Aaron Rodgers, seriously.

    The Romeo Dubs summer continues after the Green Bay Packers selected him with the 132nd pick of the year. The Dubs have consistently shown in practice and preseason that he is a dynamic vertical threat with an exceptional receiving radius.

    The 38-year-old quarterback is spending a lot of time with the Dubs developing rookies as his priority one of the goals.

    “I don’t think his standard is the standard that might be the average rookie we have here in the last four to five years. Because according to his current In training camp, he’s expected to play. So we’ve got to get him to a standard that I know he’s capable of,” Rodgers told reporters.

    Dubs shouldn’t be that guy though. The Packers acquired Christian Watson with the 34th overall pick in a second-round trade. But Watson wasn’t ready for the start of training camp, and the Dubs shined every day.

    Alan Lazard is apparently Green Bay’s No. 1 target Davante Adams is gone.

    Still, the excitement over what the Dubs can do shouldn’t be tempered. Lazard is at its best as a power slot. The Doubs can continue to be a threat both on the court and off the stat.

    “He made some instinctive performance coaching that you can’t really do,” Rodgers said last week. “He’s in and out a little bit in the game, at the top of the line, there’s a guy right there, and instead of drifting on it and making that guy work, he’s trying to get back on the ball, strong hands. You love watching those games. That Make you believe that he has the ability to do things that are not on paper.”

    If Rodgers really believes in Dubs, the rookie’s The golden ticket is waiting for you.

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    AP Photo/John Munson

    can be used at the college level to mask the talents of a particular prospect .

    For example, Daniel Bellinger was a starter and captain for three years at San Diego State. Despite being an important part of the program, the tight end has never had more than 31 passes or 357 receiving yards in a season. Both figures came from last year and should be considered insignificant at best.

    His use depends on the scheme. The Aztecs were a pre-emptive attack and have been around for a long time. Bellinger is a traditional inside tight end who specializes in interceptions. However, his limited opportunities flashed with great potential as a receiver.

    At 6-foot-5, 253 pounds, this year’s 112th overall pick is a strong and athletic target. He can create dislocations and yards off the catch. He was a huge target, recording 4.63 seconds 40 – according to Pro Rugby Network’s Kent Lee Platt Lee Platte), Bellinger ranks the 35th best athletic tight end in elite relative athletic scoring over the past 35 years. Plus, he’s a true Y-shaped tight end with extended ability to play at the end of the line of scrimmage and out into the wing.

    The New York Giants immediately recognized the potential of a fourth-draft pick, and Beilein quickly took over in the first-team offense a place.

    “We’ve thrown him out there and he’s played a lot of football for us,” coach Brian Dahl said. Bol told reporters two weeks ago. “There’s still a long way to go rn You need to have a lot of intricacies in your playing. But he’s willing. He’s smart. He’s strong. He has great qualities to work with. We just have to keep working with him Collaborate and keep improving.”

    Bellinger on Sunday against the New York Jets. Once healthy, he should move into the Giants’ TE1 spot, as the team doesn’t have much support for the rookie to really challenge his status.

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      Christian Peterson/Getty Images

    Some prospects have very specific Skills, they’re results knocked out throughout the draft. Isaiah could be a real F-tight end. Basically, he’s an oversized wide receiver who does almost nothing as an interior blocker. Plus, the two-time All-Day First Team isn’t a great athlete. So it might not necessarily look like a mismatch waiting to happen. But, the 6’4″, 241-pound target has a good feel for his line and knows how to find it on defense Position and create after catch.

    “I try to tell you guys he just got that ‘it’ factor,” All Pro Teammate Mark Andrews told reporters on Wednesday. “He’s going to be a big part of our offense, so I’m excited for him. He will continue to grow, but his game is already very, very high. He doesn’t play like a rookie. It’s going to be great to have him on the floor and play with him. “

    The Baltimore Ravens present a unique offense with the most efficient running behind a center the NFL has ever seen players and tight end-centric programs. While there are still questions about what the team will actually do at wide receiver outside of Rashod Bateman, it may offer a different, albeit unique, option.

    “He’s a guy who needs attention,” Andrews added, “He’s going to play, and that’s important to me. Ability to find locations, open up spaces, and get the attention of others. “

    In two preseason games, probably the highest overall score and force at all positions, according to Pro Football Focus Most missed tackles by any rookie.

    Prospects with Likely skills are not for every team. In some Circumstances, he certainly doesn’t fit. But moving tight ends fills a niche that’s perfect for the Ravens.

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      AP Photo/Kirk ·Owen

      On paper, the Chicago Bears appear to have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. However, the quickness of rookie left tackle Braxton Jones Development could lead to a significant boost.

      This year’s No. 168 pick has already secured a starter with the Bears No. 1 Weeks is close with the San Francisco 49ers. Jones has not relinquished the position since he started working with the first-team offense after organized team events.

      “Braxton is going to be a good player,” left-back Cody Whitehair told reporters. “The way he learned. The way he understands things. He’s very athletic. His length is great. His hands are fine. I really like where Braxton is. “

      The fact that Jones is a fifth-round pick in the starting lineup presents enough hurdles, but the rookie also Played at the FCS level with the Southern Utah Thunderbirds. The transition wasn’t overwhelming, though.

      Physically speaking , the rookie is a great athlete. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound blocker ran a 4.97-second 40-yard dash in an NFL Scout Combine workout. He also has a 35 3/8″ The super-long arms are tied for the second longest in Indianapolis.

      The running skills are obvious, and the first grade left cut The striker is constantly trying to use his length. Shooting his hand would be a huge help, like setting a strong anchor. The fire wash during the Bears practice certainly helped Jones mature. “One of the things about Braxton is that he can play against Robert Quinn every day,” offensive line coach Chris Morgan noted.” The defense that he can play against us again ends up every day. So the work he got was priceless. “

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          AP Photo/Matt Durisko

        Abraham Lucas participated in a college-level air strike program. All he does is pass the ball. It will take some time for him to transition into the professional game.

        or so many ideas. They seem to be wrong, as Lucas is considered the starting right tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.

        Lucas’ pre-draft results vary widely because of the environment in which he plays and excellent athletic ability. How is the athletic ability? According to Pro Football Network’s Kent Lee Platte, this year’s 72nd overall pick ranks 34th in relative athletic scoring among offensive tackles over the past 35 years.

        As a comparison, the Seahawks selected Lucas’ bookend, Charles Cross, the ninth overall pick this year. Cross barely made the top 300.

        Lucas was a four-year starter for the Washington State Cougars. During that time, the team threw 1,991 times. According to Pro Football Focus, a correct tackle didn’t allow for a sack on a real pass last season. During the preseason, Lucas allowed only one pressure. The young blocker knows how to set up, although he will face a higher level of competition during the regular season. Surprising aspects Lucas’ performance so far seems to be the way he likes to run the block. A bright spot in Pancake Blocks can be seen from his preseason footage, where he can be found burying multiple defenders. In fact, these two rookie tackles come from a pass-first offense, and they are relatively adaptable.

        “They’ve transformed into running players, and they’ve come out of the rock; they’ve got both physicality and athleticism,” Head coach Pete Carroll told reporters. “They’ve done a great job. That’s what we’re looking for. They’ve really embraced the coaches and they’ve given us the opportunity to have a very, very beautiful team for a long time.”

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            AP Photo/Jeff Dean

          The offensive line is only as strong as its weakest link. The cliché probably won’t fit in most situations, but this one certainly fits the Cincinnati Bengals’ starting top five.

          Fourth-round pick Cordell Walson seems like the final piece of the puzzle, he just needs to be good enough.

          “I’m seeing steady improvement,” head coach Zach Taylor said of this year’s 136th overall pick. “He’s consistent. We know what we’re getting from him.”

          Last season, Joe Burrow had more Both endured more sack quarterbacks. The guard kept harassing and hitting the former No. 1 overall pick. Despite its glaring flaws, the Bengals are still in Super Bowl LVI thanks to burrows, an amazing set of wide receivers and an underrated defense. Even so, the game ended in the Los Angeles Rams’ advantage, as the Bengals offensive line couldn’t protect the quarterback when it mattered most.

          Player Personnel Director Duke Tobin went to great lengths to upgrade almost the entire unit. Ted Karras, Alex Cappa and La’el Collins will serve as center, right back and right tackle, respectively. But with Cincinnati heading into training camp, left-back remains a pain point.

          24-year-old Walson brings responsibility, physicality and resilience. Basically, the rookie brings all the attributes that the Bengals forward lacked last season. Walson didn’t even play in the Tigers’ third preseason game, and Taylor named him the starter at left-back on Wednesday.

          ” He’s hungry. He’s always asking for meetings and asking good questions to the vets. You can tell when you’re in a good mood,” the coach said at the team’s final preseason postgame news conference. “His existence, around him, can be seen from a young man.”

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            AP Photo/Kirk Owen

            The Cleveland Browns defense is built on its brilliant defensive end. Both Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney can take over the game and completely disrupt the opposing offense. But both have missed games throughout their careers, especially the Joker, who hasn’t played a full season since 2017.

          The team lacked the depth of quality behind the two game-changers. Last season, another former first-rounder, Takaliste McKinley, and Porter Gustin and Ifiadi Odnebo didn’t get the job done when they rotated on the court.

          And rookie third-round pick Alex Wright is in perfect shape for normal development. In many ways, he already looks important.

          Garrett and the Joker are tall presences at each end of the line of scrimmage. They are 6’4″, 272 pounds and 6’5″, 255 pounds, respectively. They are built exactly as the team envisions fringe players. Wright is 6-foot-5 and 267 pounds. The 21-year-old has the size and height to turn a dynamic duo into a terrific threesome.

          “I’m really getting three-in-one, not two-in-one or just one (coach),” Wright last week tell reporters. “It’s kind of like I’m taking advantage of everyone’s bonuses and every day.”

          Wright has shown him throughout the preseason The ability to handle a higher level game after playing at UAB. Physically, the rookie full-back is still making an attacking plan, especially as a pass rusher. But he works consistently when catching up to opposing quarterbacks and has shown the ability to stack and fall off to set an advantage. His preseason flashes heralded the ability for an individual to take over a series.

          “He’s really a favorite of the entire organization – scouts, coaches and our research and strategy group,” General Manager Andrew Berry said ear’s 78th overall pick after the Browns selected Wright with this y. “We like him because he’s what we call a big-end or power-end player, but with Alex, he’s really got the ability to sprint inside and out. We like his size. We like his ability to rush the way. “

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            AP Photo /Paul Sancia

          This is from Hard Knocks

            Transition Being the star of a truly productive player in the NFL regular season can be difficult. Malcolm Rodriguez deserves the hype. He did everything the Detroit Lions coaching staff asked for a sixth-round pick. “He’s a pretty amazing little player, isn’t he?” This? “Defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn told reporters.

            “Well, you guys made him a star.” I’ve said it before, and this is what Bill Parcells said, “Don’t put him in the Hall of Fame just yet.” But I’ll tell you, he’s a very humble kid. If the work started was his, it was his. If not, then not. He will play special teams. He has to win his support. He knows this. And I think he’s done a really good job of that. He is a dedicated person. As far as defense is concerned, he fully understands what he has to do to be effective. “

            The linebacker was selected with the 188th overall pick in the April draft for one simple reason: he’s small. Even in today’s smaller but faster world, where defenders are often asked to play in space, Rodriguez isn’t a good fit as a 5-foot-11, 230-pound guard. Smell is special.

            Over the past three years, the Oklahoma standout has completed a total of 314 tackles. Yes, Rodriguez is a linebacker who lacks length and can be engulfed. On offense. But he’s been trying to play in the right position.

            The emergence of Rodriguez as a potential starter helped loosen the Lions’ decision to waive former first-round pick Jarrad Davis.

            “He’s stable,” coach Dan Campbell said. “He’s doing what he’s instructed, and he’s improving a little bit every day and putting the It stores into memory and moves on. “

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            Michael Hickey/Getty Images

          When a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year points out a rookie in his first training camp and When it goes well in preseason, something must be going well.

          “I think (safety Nick Cross) is going well, “Indianapolis Colts cornerback Stephen Gilmore said, according to Andrew Moore of Horseshoe Hader. “He’s always in the right spot. He wants to be great, he’s fast, he can tackle, he can do everything. He’s not like a normal rookie to me, and I think he’ll help us a lot. “

          A series of unexpected things happened that made this year’s No. 96 pick a significant defensive role.

          First, Khari Willis unexpectedly retired to work in ministry. And 32-year-old safety Rodney McLeod needs an offseason due to knee surgery. The Colts activated the 10-year-old from a physically incapable roster on July 27, although he will need time to adjust at the start of training camp.

          As a result of these circumstances, Kroos immediately filled the team’s starting strong safety. 20 was outstanding.

          “I don’t know if I have a 20-year-old at this level he is,” defensive backs coach Ron Mulhouse, a 22-year NFL coaching veteran, told James Boyd of The Athletic. “You think, if you’re 20, shouldn’t you be like a junior? Now he’s in the National Football League. Obviously, he can run, he can cover, he has size, he has power. Sometimes I really wonder because a 20 year old is on his level? It’s a bit unique. “

          like his crossplay from the cannon. Sometimes this trait can be a positive or a negative .. His college tapes suggest he could be caught by his eyes in the backcourt or he’ll bite the double, though Cross’ hair flip-flop and 4.34-second 40-yard sprint make him an eraser no matter what. Downhill or downhill on the back end.

          With the proper guidance, the Colts’ third-round pick could make the league One of the best defensive rookies. According to Pro Football Focus, he has been named the league’s top safety despite being in the preseason.



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