Five First-Round Picks With Rookie of the Year Potential
1. Jadeveon Clowney- OLB, Texans
This one is a given. The guy is a monster athlete and can make a big difference in the NFL right away. With J.J. Watt rushing the passer as well, Clowney could have many opportunities to get to opposing quarterbacks.
With the former South Carolina star standing up as a linebacker in situations, he will be able to get to the quarterback faster than ever. Even with all the criticism Clowney has received, this guy is a special player and will contribute to Houston right away.
2. Sammy Watkins- WR, Bills
The Bills traded up to get Watkins, and they will be rewarded for it this season. Watkins is the ultimate package at receiver. While he doesn’t have the size that Mike Evans or Kelvin Benjamin has, he is still able to catch the deep pass or the endzone toss because of his speed and leaping ability.
Watkins could have a big year because he is the guy in Buffalo now. The Bills made it clear that he would be the main target when they traded up for him. With Stevie Johnson out, Watkins will need to have a big season to help E.J. Manuel’s development as a quarterback.
3. Brandin Cooks- WR, Saints
Cooks was one of the most underrated players in the draft this season. He was one of the best college receivers a year ago, but he still fell to New Orleans late in the first round.
With Drew Brees at quarterback, this guy could have a really big year. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Brees are all guys that can make average receivers look great. In this case, Cooks has elite talent and having Brees at quarterback will only make him better. He has looked solid so far this preseason.
4. Aaron Donald- DL, Rams
Donald was another steal in the draft because of how dominant he was last season in college. The Rams have a really good defensive line with Chris Long, Michael Brockers, and Robert Quinn, and new additions Donald and Michael Sam should make this the best d-line in the league.
In his first preseason game, Donald was able to get through holes on the Saints offensive line and was able to pressure the quarterback.
5. Eric Ebron- TE, Lions
Ebron will be successful in his rookie season because of his versatility. He is able to play multiple spots on the field including lining up in the backfield and lining up as a receiver.
He is the next athletic tight end, similar to Jimmy Graham, who will be able to stretch the field and make things tougher for defenders.
Kelvin Benjamin- WR, Panthers
With the losses of Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, the Panthers desperately need Benjamin to develop into the big-play receiver he is capable of. He made a touchdown grab in his first preseason game, which provided hope for Panthers fans.
With his 6’5” frame, Benjamin should be able to make some big plays for the Panthers this season, and could help Cam Newton reach the next phase of his career.