We’re now several weeks removed from the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s about time to look back at the annual event and forecast who might make the biggest impact this coming season.
A certain defender in the nation’s capital is joined by a stud linebacker in the Arizona desert as two players who should dominate on that side of the ball as rookies.
On the offensive side, rookie No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow has a chance to put up some ridiculous numbers as the Cincinnati Bengals’ starting quarterback.
These are among the five NFL rookies set to make the biggest impact during the 2020 season.
Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Redskins
It had been a foregone conclusion for some time heading into April’s draft that the Skins were going to select this former Ohio State star No. 2 overall. For good reason. Young is seen as a better pro prospect than reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and former teammate Nick Bosa. That can’t be taken lightly.
The 6-foot-5, 264-pound Young recorded 35.5 tackles for loss and 27 sacks over his final two seasons with the Buckeyes. He’ll start immediately under defensive-minded Redskins head coach Ron Rivera, who in the past oversaw excellence from the likes of Julius Peppers. Expect a 10-plus sack rookie season from Young.
Patrick Queen, linebacker, Baltimore Ravens
This stud linebacker showed out big time en route to helping his former LSU team earn the national title last season. His performance in the College Football Playoff was legendary. That’s why it was a surprise that Queen fell to the Ravens with the 28th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Obviously, Baltimore will not complain about this. The team has finally found a replacement for free-agent departure C.J. Mosley. And it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch Queen grow into his role as the team’s starting middle linebacker. Expect a huge rookie season from Queen, especially in pass coverage against tight ends. That’s where he’ll earn his keep early on.
Isaiah Simmons, linebacker, Arizona Cardinals
It was also somewhat surprising that Simmons fell to the Cardinals with the eighth pick in the draft. The former star Clemson linebacker showed out big time during the NFL Scouting Combine, leading to widespread speculation that he could ultimately be the third pick in the annual draft. Obviously, that did not happen.
Simmons (6-foot-4, 238 pounds) is a true sideline-to-sideline backer in the mold of Fred Warner and Bobby Wagner. He has the ability to cover tight ends out of the backfield and can even play safety if need be. The talented linebacker is set to become the next great player at this position. Expect that process to begin as a rookie in 2020.
Jerry Jeudy, wide receiver, Denver Broncos
It was interesting to see last season that rookies selected outside of Round 1 performed at a higher clip than those who were picked within the top 32. A.J. Brown of the Titans, Deebo Samuel of the 49ers and D.K. Metcalf of the Seahawks are three prime examples.
Don’t expect this to be the case in 2020. I was personally surprised to see Jeudy drop to Denver in the middle of the first round. He’s already a pro-ready route runner with a skill set that translates into being a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. Add in young quarterback Drew Lock as well as Pro Bowl wide receiver Courtland Sutton in Denver, and Jeudy is primed for a tremendous rookie campaign.
Joe Burrow, quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
Coming off the greatest statistical season in college football history, Burrow is going to be in for a rude awakening. An argument could be made that he had more talent on offense at LSU than what the reigning Heisman winner is going to be working with in Cincinnati.
Even then, the skill set is here for Burrow to put up a tremendous rookie season. He will be playing under offensive-minded head coach Zac Taylor, who has made it clear he will tailor his offense around the No. 1 pick. Look for Burrow to go for north of 4,000 yards with 25 touchdowns as a rookie.