Week one of the NFL season is in the books, and what a wild week it was. Honestly, though, that was possibly the craziest Kickoff weekend ever. Even though there were many unexpected outcomes, it feels like nothing is known yet, and no team gave a regular-season performance. This week was a throwaway for most teams outside of Green Bay, which is more dysfunctional than the Kardashians. On the plus side of things, though, many rookies took advantage of a crazy week and started to make names for themselves.
This week will focus on offensive players because there were no major standouts on the defensive side of the ball. So let's take a look at what rookies impressed the most.
Three first-round rookies got starts this week, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Mac Jones, all of which had ups and downs. Jones was by far the most efficient of the three. However, New England played so conservatively that his efficiency wasn't enough to win the game. Lawrence and Wilson had just over fifty percent completion rate, but they are also the most important player on their teams, and Jones doesn't have to be. All three players showed glimpses of greatness and should have pleased their respective fan bases, but you need to realize that there will be some growing pains.
It will be interesting to see the week-by-week development of all three quarterbacks, but Mac Jones clearly has the most talent around him, so New England can take more time with him and steadily open up the offense. Lawrence and Wilson will have more freedom in their play, but because of their teams, you will see more mistakes from them, and their development will be slower.
This is a position with most opportunities for a rookie to shine because there aren't as many star running backs as there used to be, and if you play fantasy football, you already know this fact. Several rookies took advantage of this in week one, but it was surprising who they were. The running backs who made the biggest splash were all late-round players and not the players who were expected to start. Sixth-round pick Eli Mitchell led the way for all rookies as he rushed for one hundred and four yards and scored a touchdown, helping the 49ers start the season with a win. This was shocking because we heard about Trey Sermon leading the 49ers running back room all summer, and then on Sunday, Sermon wasn't even suited up.
Another surprising development occurred in Philadelphia when fifth-round pick Kenneth Gainwell was the clear number two running back. Gainwell had a good preseason but was never really talked about as a contributor, and he ended up taking all of Boston Scott's touches. He had a good performance, too, even scoring a touchdown. The players we all expected to hear about, on the other hand, did not perform as well. Najee Harris was the featured back in Pittsburgh but couldn't get anything going against the Buffalo defense. Both running backs from UNC were expected to get a big share of their team's run game, but neither saw much action. It will be intriguing to see how both situations play out because they are both on teams in a transition state.
As a whole, the wide receiver position is loaded with talent. There aren't as many opportunities for much production out of rookies. However, the players who were drafted to become the number one receiver instantly showed exactly why they were picked. Ja'Marr Chase, who struggled in the preseason, ended up having over one hundred yards receiving and a touchdown, leading Cincinnati in receiving yards and helping secure a big week one victory.
DeVonta Smith showed that he is a real problem to cover, no matter the level of competition. He led the Eagles in targets, receptions, and receiving yards, showing Hurts' trust in him. Jaylen Waddle had a solid performance for Miami catching Tua's lone touchdown and was able to flash some of his elite speed too. However, Miami is lackluster in the offense department and will have the most that can be improved. Outside of these three, there were many opportunities for rookies to make an impact. That said, there are many players whom we should be hearing more from as the season progresses.
With this being such a crazy opening week, many players didn't get the chance to flourish. Especially on the defensive side of things, no rookie had a major impact. It will be exciting moving forward and seeing who rises or even falls because there have already been players making noise that no one expected to hear from, and we've only just begun.
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