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Tennessee Titans Wide Receiver Corey Davis

Ahhh summer time. A time where the sun shines, the grills are lit, and vacations are taken. However, for me, it is just the time of year I sit and wait. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy summer as much as the next guy but it just isn’t the time of year I look forward to. I like watching my Kansas City Royals or my Angels of Anaheim swing the bat but, to be honest, they are just fillers until I can watch the greatest game be played five nights a week.

The week gets kicked off with professional football on Thursdays then the stars of tomorrow shine brightly beneath the Friday night lights. Saturdays are filled with college football and no weekend is complete without a Sunday of more pro ball. Finally, on Mondays, we see the premiere game of the week when two pro football teams battle it out on prime time.

Until then, we have this lull between the NFL Draft in April and training camp beginning in August. I was thinking of what we could potentially discuss today and I came up with a little something. We have all heard about which rookies will impact their respective teams the most, but I want to list which rookies will make the biggest impact on their new divisions. So without further adieu, here are the biggest impact rookies for each division.

AFC North:

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jabrill Peppers-Cleveland Browns’ Safety
  • Myles Garrett-Cleveland Browns’ Defensive End
  • TJ Watt-Pittsburgh Steelers’ Linebacker

Biggest Impact Rookie:

John Ross-Cincinnati Bengals’ Wide Receiver

John Ross was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the ninth overall pick in April’s draft. The Washington product shook up the entire draft when he broke Chris Johnson‘s nearly decade-long record in the 40-yard dash when he ran it in 4.22 seconds. Everyone expected him to be fast and was considered one of the top contenders to break the record; however, when it actually happened, the sports world went berserk. Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pair the speedster with perennial Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green. Cincinnati was the only team in the AFC North that addressed their offense until Cleveland traded back into the first round to select tight end David Njoku with their third first-round pick of the night. Ross, along with second round running back Joe Mixon, adds weapons to a Bengal offense that already has Green, Tyler Eifert, Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. John Ross will add a dimension to the offense that will be extremely difficult to stop for their division rivals.

AFC East:

Honorable Mentions:

  • Tre’Davious White-Buffalo Bills’ Cornerback
  • Zay Jones-Buffalo Bills’ Wide Receiver
  • Charles Harris-Miami Dolphins’ Defensive End

Biggest Impact Rookie:

Jamal Adams-New York Jets’ Safety

Jamal Adams is comparable to one of the best safeties playing today, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Eric Berry. Adams and Berry are the same type of player in terms of on-field production and locker room leadership. On a rebuilding New York Jets squad, the first year Adams will be an immediate leader both on and off of the field. His passion for the game matches his talent and he will leave his fingerprints all over the AFC East this year. He will show respect but absolutely no intimidation for the reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and will cause fits for Miami’s Ryan Tannehill and Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor. He will be a gleam of hope for what is shaping up to be a very rough year for the Jets.

AFC South:

Honorable Mentions:

  • Malik Hooker-Indianapolis Colts’ Safety
  • Deshaun Watson-Houston Texans’ Quarterback
  • Leonard Fournette-Jacksonville Jaguars’ Running Back

Biggest Impact Rookie:

Corey Davis-Tennessee Titans’ Wide Receiver

Corey Davis left Western Michigan University as the NCAA leader in receiving yards with over 5,200 in his stellar career. Even though some had concerns about the competition level he faced, the Titans front office didn’t seem too worried so they made him the first wide receiver off of the board when they drafted him with the fifth overall selection. He will be in a great situation with third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota and will be in favorable match-ups as teams will have to account for Delanie Walker and a top running game that features DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. He will also be able to pick the brain of newly signed veteran Eric Decker. He should have big games against a Colt defense that has struggled mightily against the pass but face tougher matchups against the Texans and the Jaguars, but with the weapons around Davis, he should be an immediate threat.

AFC West:

Honorable Mentions:

  • Gareon Conley-Oakland Raiders’ Cornerback
  • Kareem Hunt-Kansas City Chiefs’ Running Back
  • Forrest Lamp/Dan Feeney-Los Angeles Chargers’ Interior Linemen

Biggest Impact Rookie:

Mike Williams-Los Angeles Chargers’ Wide Receiver

Mike Williams will bring a championship pedigree to a Chargers team that hasn’t tasted any kind of title since its last AFC West crown back in 2009. Williams was a member of the Clemson Tigers who were the runners-up for the National Championship in 2015 but brought home the National Championship in 2016. He was taken off the board by the Chargers with the seventh overall selection. He will be catching passes from veteran Philip Rivers and will line up across from Keenan Allen. AFC West teams will also have to game plan for tight ends Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates as well as running back Melvin Gordon. Williams will be able to put his talent on display against some of the best defenses in the NFL while causing them headaches.

NFC North:

Honorable Mentions:

  • Mitchell Trubisky-Chicago Bears’ Quarterback
  • Dalvin Cook-Minnesota Vikings’ Running Back

Biggest Impact Rookie:

Jarrad Davis-Detroit Lions’ Linebacker

The Detroit Lions addressed a huge need when they took Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis with the 21st overall selection in the NFL Draft. Davis will anchor the middle of a defense who ranked among some of the worst against the run. He will step into a division with some young running back talent in the Chicago Bears’ Jordan Howard and Minnesota Vikings’ Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook. He should be able to take away what little run game the Packers have which will cause them to have a one-dimensional attack.

NFC East

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jonathan Allen-Washington Redskins’ Defensive End
  • Taco Charlton-Dallas Cowboys’ Defensive End

Biggest Impact Rookie:

Evan Engram-New York Giants’ Tight End

While the rest of the division was focusing on their pass rush in the first round, the New York Giants were focused on adding yet another downfield threat. Engram was taken by the Giants with the 23rd pick and will be surrounded by weapons in the passing game. Engram will be catching passes from two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning when Manning isn’t throwing to Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, or Odell Beckham, Jr.; not to mention running backs, Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen. I don’t know if there is a defense in the league that can stop that passing attack let alone a team in the NFC East. With all of those weapons, Engram will benefit the most and have a huge impact on the whole division.

NFC South

Honorable Mentions:

  • Takkarist McKinley-Atlanta Falcons’ Defensive End
  • O.J. Howard-Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tight End
  • Christian McCaffrey-Carolina Panthers’ Running Back

Biggest Impact Rookie:

Marshon Lattimore-New Orleans Saints’ Cornerback

Lattimore was the best corner in the 2017 NFL Draft and the Saints capitalized on the opportunity to immediately improve their secondary by taking him with the 11th overall selection. He joins a young secondary that includes safeties Kenny Vaccaro and Vonn Bell. They will look to stop the most dangerous passing division in the NFL. Lattimore will be thrown right into the fire when he has to face Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, and Jameis Winston, twice each. Lattimore will line up across from the number one receiver every week and he should alter some game plans for sure.

NFC West

Honorable Mentions:

  • Haason Reddick-Arizona Cardinals’ Linebacker
  • Budda Baker-Arizona Cardinals’ Safety
  • Soloman Thomas-San Francisco 49ers’ Defensive End
  • Malik McDowell-Seattle Seahawks’ Defensive Tackle

Biggest Impact Rookie

Reuben Foster-San Francisco 49ers’ Linebacker

Foster is a top five talent who was taken with the second to last pick in the first round. He has some off the field issues as well as injury issues that caused the drop but regardless, the 49ers got an absolute stud when they traded back into the first round to take Foster with the 31st pick. Foster will battle with Malcolm Smith for the starting spot next to NaVorro Bowman. Once he wins the starting job he will form one of the best inside run stopping duos in the league which bodes well for San Fran. They have to face three teams who have great running attacks. Foster will be tested when he faces the Rams’ Todd Gurley, the Seahawks’ three-headed monster of Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, and C.J. Prosise, and the biggest test of them all, the Cardinals’ David Johnson. Foster plays with a chip on his shoulder so he will be trusted to help stop those running attacks all year.

Talon Graff

Author Talon Graff

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