We already know that established quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Drew Brees will be facing a ton of pressure.
It’s also logical to believe that high-priced free-agent signings will also be under a lot of pressure.
There is, however, another group out there. Youngsters. They either entered the NFL with a ton of fanfare and have not lived up to the hype, or they are being relied on a great deal.
It’s in this that we look at 10 young NFL players facing the most pressure this coming season.
Saquon Barkley, running back, New York Giants
Now that Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t there to save Eli Manning, the Giants are going to be focusing even more on Barkley. Even as the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie if the Year, that’s a tall task. Barkley touched the ball an astounding 352 times last season, including 91 receptions. Teams are going to be stacking the box against the young back in forcing Manning to beat them over the top. We’ve seen how this has negatively impacted other running backs in the past. Is Barkley up for the task?
Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears
Last season was one of transition for Chicago. It went from cellar dweller to division champ. Even then, no one really expected the Bears to go deep into the postseason. That’s why it wasn’t too much of a surprise then they lost to Philadelphia in the wild card round. Things are much different in the Windy City this season. Trubisky is now entering his third season. General manager Ryan Pace has built a real contender. The time is now for Trubisky to become a top-10 quarterback in the NFL. That puts a whole lot of pressure on the young signal caller.
Isaiah Wynn, offensive tackle, New England Patriots
After missing last season with a torn Achilles, this 2018 first-round pick is slated to protect Tom Brady’s blindside during his “redshirt” freshman season. No pressure there. The good news here is that Brady has the quickest release in the NFL. Even then, Wynn is going to be facing a difficult task out of the gate. How he responds will impact both New England’s success and Brady’s overall health.
Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Oakland Raiders
Ferrell finding himself overdrafted at No. 4 overall is not his fault. Though, that’s going to make for a ton of pressure as it relates to his rookie season. Oakland took the Clemson product before higher-coveted edge rushers such as Montez Sweat, Josh Allen and Brian Burns. He’ll be compared to all three immediately. It also doesn’t help Ferrell that he’s pretty much playing the same position as former Raiders star Khalil Mack. The comparisons will be there a year after Oakland traded away Mack in a shocking deal.
Dante Pettis, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco opted against adding a top-end receiver this offseason. Sure the team tried to trade for Odell Beckham Jr., but that never came to fruition. Instead, head coach Kyle Shanahan and Co. are confident that Pettis will step into a No. 1 role as a sophomore. Based on what we saw during his rookie season, this could very well happen. Pettis is a dynamic receiving threat and a mismatch waiting to happen. The issue here is consistency. If Pettis does not improve in that category, it’s going to impact Jimmy Garoppolo and Co. big time. No pressure there, Dante.
Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints
Not only did New Orleans trade up for Davenport in the 2018 NFL Draft, it yielded a first-round pick to Green Bay in April’s draft for the small-school product. Davenport, who was dealing with off-season injuries, responded by putting up just 22 tackles and 4.5 sacks. The Saints have to be hoping that Davenport takes the next step as a sophomore. Otherwise, this will be seen as a terrible trade.
Rashaad Penny, running back, Seattle Seahawks
Penny’s status as a first-round pick in last year’s draft surprised a lot of people. The idea behind Seattle’s decision was obvious. It had fielded one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL the season prior. While the Seahawks ultimately finished last season No. 1 in that category, former late-round pick Chris Carson was the primary reason why. Penny went for under 500 yards himself. He’ll need to improve on that big time as a sophomore in order to shed a potential bust label.
Josh Rosen, quarterback, Miami Dolphins
It’s not even known at this point is Rosen will beat out veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick for the starting job. What we do know is that Arizona jettisoned Rosen out of town a mere calendar year after selecting him 10th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. No matter how the Cardinals feel about Kyler Murray, that tells us a lot about their opinion of Rosen. He also netted just a second-round pick in return. Other teams were not enamored by the young quarterback. It’s now Rosen’s time to prove critics and naysayers wrong.
Courtland Sutton, wide receiver, Denver Broncos
With incumbent No. 1 receiver Emmanuel Sanders still banged up, Sutton is going to have an opportunity to prove himself as a legit top receiving threat for Joe Flacco. It also comes after Denver gave up on Demaryius Thomas last season, primarily because of its confidence in Sutton. There’s reason for optimism here. The 6-foot-3 Sutton averaged a robust 16.8 yards per reception last season. With some more consistency, he could become a major force. The pressure is on to excel right now.
Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Cleveland Browns
Mayfield’s rookie season was defined by a fun on-field performance for a Browns team with muted expectations. It resulted in a record-breaking initial campaign with the Browns winning five of his final seven starts. Mayfield’s sophomore season will be much different. After adding the likes of Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham Jr., the pressure is on these Browns to not only make the playoffs, but win the AFC North. As the most boisterous member of the organization, that pressure is mostly going to rest on Mayfield.