We see it every year around the NFL. Highly anticipated star rookies flaming out big time. That included the likes of quarterback Josh Rosen and offensive tackle Kolton Miller in 2018.
It’s going to happen again this season. Top picks are not guaranteed to have initial success.
Whether it’s the position they are put in or something completely different, here are 10 NFL rookies set to disappoint this season.
Rashan Gary, EDGE, Green Bay Packers
It’s not that Gary was overdrafted by Green Bay. Considered a likely top-10 pick heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, he went 12th overall. That’s decent value. Unfortunately, Gary’s talents never translated to overall success at Michigan. The former five-star recruit recorded 9.5 sacks in three seasons, including just 3.5 as a junior last year.
Green Bay didn’t necessarily need to add at this position after picking up Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency. At best, Gary will be a situational pass rusher as a rookie. That’s not going to equate to a ton of success.
T.J. Hockenson, tight end, Detroit Lions
Hockenson might very well be the next Rob Gronkowski. But that’s not going to happen during his rookie season. History suggests that he will struggle to make a huge impact as a rookie. This isn’t about Hockenson’s otherworldly talents. He’s legit. Instead, it’s about how other top-end tight ends have struggled as rookies.
Pro Bowler Zach Ertz caught just 36 passes as a rookie back in 2013. Prior to a record-breaking 2018 campaign, San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle caught just 43 passes during his rookie season. Heck, Gronkowski hauled in just 42 passes as a rookie. It’s apparent that tight ends have a huge learning curve entering the NFL. Hockenson will be no different.
L.J. Collier, EDGE, Seattle Seahawks
Collier was overdrafted. There’s no other way to go about it. Many had the TCU product slated as a Day 2 pick before Seattle nabbed him 29th overall. The need was definitely there after trading Frank Clark earlier in the offseason.
Unfortunately, any expectation that Collier will be able to come in and duplicate Clark’s success can be thrown out the window. Seattle does not have that elite-level and proven EDGE rusher to help Collier out of the gate. He’ll be the primary focus of other teams’ blocking schemes. That’s going to lead to some struggles out of the gate.
Josh Jacobs, running back, Oakland Raiders
With the exception of a generational talent like Saquon Barkley, selecting a running back in the first round does not represent a ton of value in today’s NFL. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks after they picked Rashaad Penny in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He was outperformed by late-round pick Chris Carson.
We’re certainly not expecting Jacobs to put up tremendous numbers as a rookie. Oakland’s offensive line leaves a lot to be desired after it traded away Kelechi Osemele during the spring. While Jacobs might end up being good, his first season in the NFL will be a disappointment.
Darnell Savage, safety, Green Bay Packers
Savage wasn’t necessarily overdrafted back in April. While that might be the narrative, he was getting a lot of first-round play heading into the draft. In no way does this mean the former Maryland star will be able to jump in and start as a rookie.
Savage’s late ascension up the ranks included some tremendous pre-draft numbers. He’s an athletic freak. He can run with the best of them. In the past, those type of workout warriors have not had initial success in the NFL. Heck, it’s highly unlikely that Savage will start over second-year safety Josh Jones. That’s going to impact him big time in 2019.
Ed Oliver, defensive tackle, Buffalo Bills
The idea that Oliver is immature gained a lot of attention after a drama-filled final season with Houston. It’s also a worn-out narrative. All the dude did during college was dominate opposing offensive lines to the tune of 13.5 sacks and five forced fumbles over the course of three seasons.
Compared to the likes of DeForest Buckner and Aaron Donald, expectations are sky high for Oliver as a rookie. With such lofty expectations comes the likelihood that he won’t live up to them initially. This is not a knock on Oliver. He’ll eventually be a Pro Bowler in the NFL. Rather, it’s the reality of a star at a smaller school looking to make an impact against much better competition at the NFL level.
Marquise Brown, wide receiver, Baltimore Ravens
Already slowed down to injury, Brown missed Baltimore’s entire off-season program. That’s not a great sign for Hollywood as he prepares for a rookie season in which the Ravens will be relying on the first-round pick a great deal.
It also must be noted that wide receivers generally struggle to transition from the college level. It’s a position that represents one of the largest learning curves in the NFL. Dealing with a green quarterback in Lamar Jackson who’s struggles throwing outside the hashes, Brown’s initial season in the NFL seems to be set for disappointment.
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Oakland Raiders
Pretty much every NFL insider was shocked when Oakland nabbed Ferrell at No. 4 overall in April’s draft. He was selected ahead of three EDGE rushers most had rated much higher than the Clemson product. That puts a huge amount of onus on Ferrell as a rookie.
This is magnified by the fact that Oakland does not have a proven pass rusher to help Ferrell out of the gate. It lacks talent pretty much across the board in the defensive front seven. With teams being able to focus on Ferrell as a rookie, he’s going to struggle making an initial impact. That’s for sure.
Kyler Murray, quarterback, Arizona Cardinals
Is Murray talented? Yes. Can the smallish quarterback be a generational player in the mold of Russell Wilson? Yes. Will it happen as a rookie? Don’t bet on it. Generally, quarterbacks struggle to live up to the hype as rookies. It’s among the most difficult positions to transfer from college to the pros.
Murray’s ability to have success out of the gate will be impacted by multiple things. Arizona’s offensive line is among the weakest in the NFL. It also plays in an NFC West that boasts dominant pass rushers in the form of Aaron Donald, DeForest Buckner and Dee Ford. Without a ton of proven talent on offense and boasting a rookie head coach in Kliff Kingsbury, don’t expect a ton of success for Murray as a rookie.
Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers
Already dealing with a hamstring ailment, Bosa’s injury history has become a major question mark. That’s not to say the rookie No. 2 pick is going to struggle staying healthy in the NFL. His place on this list is about much more than that.
San Francisco added Pro Bowl pass rusher Dee Ford in a trade with the Chiefs back in March. It also boasts one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles in the game, DeForest Buckner. Those two will each tally 10-plus sacks this season. Sure they’ll help Bosa in that he won’t be the focus of opposing blocking schemes. But their presence will provide fewer opportunities for Mr. Bosa as a rookie.