The top NFL rookies don’t always get to make a huge impact. They’re drafted to terrible teams, they endure losing and whatever gaudy statistics they drop on the league come off as rather hollow.
Unheralded rookies end up carving out niche roles for Super Bowl threats and playoff teams. They have to work their way into key roles behind established players, making their hard work all the more impressive.
It’s even better when it can assist a franchise in getting to or even winning a championship.
That’s never a given (nor is it a lock that bad teams can’t enjoy meteoric rises), but it’s interesting to consider which players could float under the radar. More specifically, it’s worth pondering which players could help their new teams make a deep playoff run.
Just look at last season. Sony Michel was a late first round pick and helped the Patriots win a title. Is there anyone like Michel that could influence how sports bettors wager at online NFL betting websites?
I believe so and I’ve pinpointed five NFL rookies who could make huge impacts and aid a potential title run for their respective franchises:
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Defensively, the Ravens are pretty set. They lost some key veterans, but they’re always good on that side of the ball. They also signed bruising tailback Mark Ingram in free agency, making their rushing attack as strong as ever.
Their real problem is the passing game, which suffered under Joe Flacco and got worse under Lamar Jackson. There are serious efficiency questions with Jackson due to his shaky accuracy, but he can hit the deep ball and inherits quite the explosive weapon in “Hollywood” Brown.
If Brown’s speed and Jackson’s development combine at the right moment, Baltimore could morph from solid playoff threat to legit Super Bowl 54 contender.
David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
Everyone knows the Bears are going to field an amazing defense again, paced by the unstoppable force that is Khalil Mack. What sports bettors and NFL experts alike aren’t sure about, however, is what to expect from Chicago’s offense.
Most of that has to do with the development of quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but he does bring upside to the table and dazzled at times in 2018. Insert versatile rookie rusher David Montgomery, and he may finally have a complete arsenal around him to push him over the top.
Montgomery’s arrival may not jump off the page, but he brings a dimension former starting running back Jordan Howard never could; he can catch. A true three-down back with plenty of upside to tap into, Montgomery could end up being the missing link between the Bears being a good offense and a great one.
Darnell Savage, S, Green Bay Packers
Green Bay was a team in turmoil and regression in 2018, but they could still experience a quick turnaround this year. Having Aaron Rodgers is one huge reason why, but the green and gold were also aggressive in free agency and brought in a bright mind to guide their roster.
Another big reason for optimism is their productive draft, which included what many felt to be a mild reach in round one with safety, Darnell Savage. Perhaps that’s still the case, but Savage is a freak athlete that is aggressive with high level anticipation.
In theory, Savage helps free agent acquisition Adrian Amos shore up what was previously an inept Packers secondary. If so, Green Bay could go from a unit offenses loved to attack to one they legitimately fear.
Juan Thornhill, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Most would suggest Mecole Hardman here given the Tyreek Hill drama, but with the star Chiefs wide receiver’s off field saga inexplicably a non-issue, I’ll turn to Thornhill.
It’s defense where the Chiefs require the most assistance anyways, as they were truly atrocious on that side of the ball in 2018. Kansas City did well to upgrade across the board with trades and free agency, but they also beefed up their secondary by snatching the athletic Thornhill in round two.
This was easily one of the top steals of the 2019 NFL Draft, as Thornhill provides high level athleticism, great closing speed, natural instincts and elite ball skills. This could all have him quickly translating into an impact safety on a defense that lost Eric Berry.
Add in star defensive talent like Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu, and Thornhill could help a formerly bad defense turn into a good one.
Chase Winovich, DE/OLB, New England Patriots
I probably can’t talk about impact rookies that can help their teams win a title without touching on the Patriots. Annoying, I know, but the odds remain pretty good that those pesky Pats will again be contending for a title.
The arrival of the versatile Winovich could play a big hand in that. New England sure stepped up their pass rush in the biggest game of the year, but otherwise were downright terrible at getting to the quarterback in 2018.
Winovich is more than long, golden locks. The edge rusher was a terror for a daunting Michigan Wolverines defense thanks to his speed, instincts and physicality.
New England needs a jolt in their pass rush and they’re getting it with Winovich. If he carves out a role early and is the answer on the outside they crave, they may just be even better in 2019.
There are undoubtedly other NFL rookies that will put up big numbers, deliver key performances or even play on title contenders. The aforementioned five are the players I personally have my eye on the most, though, and could be in a position to make their presence felt pretty early on.