NFL

35 NFL Rookies Who Took The League By Storm

Darren - September 10, 2020
NFL

35 NFL Rookies Who Took The League By Storm

Darren - September 10, 2020
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

15. Anquan Boldin

The Arizona Cardinals drafted Boldin as the 54th overall pick in 2003. But nobody could have expected the impact that he would have in the NFL because he was was magnificent throughout his entire rookie year. Few players took the league by storm as this wide receiver did.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He totaled 1,377 yards on 101 catches and scored eight touchdowns. The Offensive Rookie of the Year showed why the draft doesn’t always reflect a player’s true ability. Boldin went on and won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens during an excellent career.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

14. Ezekiel Elliot

Dallas Cowboys star Elliot is one of the best running backs in the sport. His phenomenal athleticism and frightening speed get fans off their seats. But his brilliance is nothing new because Elliot was excellent in his rookie season. He was the complete package from the start.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Elliot took the league by storm as he rushed for 1,631 yards with 15 touchdowns. That led the league in rushing yards as he made his first Pro Bowl appearance. Elliot has a very high ceiling as part of an exciting Dallas Cowboys offense. However, his career saw highs and lows after his rookie season. The Cowboys expect him to deliver and inspire them to glory.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

13. Nick Bosa

Bosa almost lived the dream in his rookie season as the San Francisco 49ers fell short in the Super Bowl. However, the young defensive end was magnificent all year for the Niners as they went on an exciting postseason run. He won NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after taking the league by storm. Bosa’s position wasn’t the most glamorous but everybody recognized his significance to the team.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Ohio State alumnus achieved nine sacks all season, including a key intervention against Aaron Rodgers in the NFC Championship game. His 47 tackles proved his commitment to the cause as he quickly established himself as a crowd favorite in the Golden City. Unfortunately, in Game Two of his sophomore year, Bosa tore his ACL so only time will tell how he rebounds from that blow.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

12. Odell Beckham Jr

Beckham’s breakout year with the New York Giants was exceptional. The most iconic moment was his incredible catch against the Dallas Cowboys. It was one of the greatest in the history of the NFL. If you’ve never seen it then you should drop everything and watch it now.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The wide receiver started just 12 games but it was more than enough to make the Pro Bowl. He racked up 1,315 yards with 12 touchdowns and 91 catches in an extraordinarily effective year. Of course, he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, surprising absolutely no one.

Mandatory Credit: Bleacher Report

11. Barry Sanders

A Detroit Lions hero, many people were actually worried that Sanders was too small for the NFL. However, the running back was a ball of muscle and was devastating when released upon opposition teams. There was no stopping him as he took the league by storm in his rookie season.

Mandatory Credit: Bleacher Report

The 1989 Offensive Rookie of the Year tore the league to shreds. He carried the ball 280 times for 1,470 yards in a highly effective year. He also contributed with 14 touchdowns. Sanders went on to play in 10 Pro Bowls and was the 1997 NFL MVP. Furthermore, many believe that he’s the best player never to win the Super Bowl.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. Edgerrin James

James had an extraordinary impact upon the Indianapolis Colts’ fortunes during his time at the Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s wild to look back now and consider the criticism that the Colts experienced because they chose to draft James instead of Heisman winner Ricky Williams. But it was an inspired decision.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He turned out to be the perfect weapon for Peyton Manning as he rushed for 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns his rookie season. Furthermore, he won the Rookie of the Year award after truly taking the league by storm. James still holds a special place in the hearts of Colts fans.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Randy Moss

Moss spent the biggest chunk of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. He immediately set the league on fire in his rookie year. However, in another life he would have probably played for the Dallas Cowboys but ‘America’s Team’ wasn’t willing to risk controversy because of Moss’s well-documented legal problems.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

Their loss was the Viking’s gain because the 21st overall pick took the league by storm. Moss caught 17 touchdowns as the Vikings stormed towards the Super Bowl. They looked unstoppable but ultimately the Atlanta Falcons stunned them in the NFC Championship Game. But Moss had a brilliant season.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Justin Herbert

Joe Burrow and Tua Tavagoiloa received all of the rookie quarterback headlines at the start of the 2020 season, but Herbert proved to be the best of the bunch. The young man demonstrated superb maturity despite his age. His greatest achievement was setting a new record for most passes by a rookie in a single season. The Chargers were delighted because they have the QB position locked down potentially for the next decade.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Of course, that’s assuming he isn’t a one-season wonder and stays fit. However, it looks like he is a superb talent. Herbert is also the youngest signal-caller to throw for more than 30 touchdowns in one season. The former Oregon Ducks starlet was the sixth overall pick and looks to be a brilliant acquisition for the L.A. franchise as he took the league by storm.

Mandatory Credit: Washington Post

7. Robert Griffin III

Before injuries cruelly got in the way of his career, looked like a worldbeater. He broke onto the scene in 2012 as the second overall draft pick. A Heisman winner with Baylor during his final year, Washington Redskins fans had high expectations for their new man.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Then he proved them right by winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. Griffin finished the year with 3,200 passing yards and rushed for 815. However, he suffered some horrendous knee injuries at the end of his incredible season. This resulted in him spending a lot of time as a backup.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. Andrew Luck

Luck had the unenviable task of replacing a franchise icon in Peyton Manning. However, the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback proved he was more than up to the task. He quickly demonstrated that he was one of the best passers in the league as their starting QB as he took the league by storm.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

With 4,374 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, Luck was ruthlessly efficient. Furthermore, his 11 wins as a rookie was a new record for a draft first pick. The Colts only won two games in the previous season which shows just how significant his impact was. Unfortunately, injuries ended his career in its prime, but Luck was a generational talent and a supreme athlete at his best.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. Eric Dickerson

The most exciting attacking rookies play without fear. Sometimes this can be to their detriment because they may put their bodies at unnecessary risk. However, it can also be scintillating to watch. That was the case for Dickerson in his phenomenal rookie year with the Los Angeles Rams.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Dickerson won all kinds of individual honors for his stellar NFL performances in 1983. He rushed for 1,808 yards and landed 18 touchdowns as he demonstrated his devastating attacking prowess. Furthermore, the running back played in his first Pro Bowl as he took the league by storm.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Dak Prescott

A very gifted player, Prescott is now the undisputed Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback. However, nobody expected Prescott to start for ‘America’s Team’ his rookie year. So how did he end up playing in all 16 regular-season games and winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, not to mention his first Pro Bowl selection?.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Well, Tony Romo suffered an injury during the preseason and was unable to start the season. Prescott took full advantage of this opportunity and put down his mark. His 3,667 passing yards were the fourth-best overall in 2016. It was a magnificent way for him to announce himself in pro football.

Rick Stewart/Getty Images

3. Jevon Kearse

When a rookie makes the Pro Bowl, they’ve obviously done very well. Not many manage to achieve this honor. However, Kearse did after an exceptional year in 1999 for the Tennessee Titans. You could argue that he peaked in his first year because he never achieved the same number of sacks in a season again.

Mandatory Credit: Sports Illustrated

‘The Freak’ was a major part of the Titans’ reaching the Super Bowl final. With 48 tackles, eight forced fumbles, and an excellent 14.5 sacks, Kearse was a force of nature in the Tenessee backline. Needless to say, he won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award for his staggering contribution.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Cam Newton

Newton took a meandering route to the NFL, but when he finally arrived, he took the league by storm. The young Carolina Panthers’ quarterback quickly ousted his competition and showed off his incredible talents. He was the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in their first season.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

His overall value to the team was incredible. Newton set all kinds of records in his debut year, including rushing yards by a rookie QB and many more. Meanwhile, he won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award which was practically a given.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Ben Roethlisberger

‘Big Ben’ has been in the NFL for 16 years but has been brilliant from the beginning. Incredibly, he was the Pittsburgh Steeler’s third-string quarterback before injuries got him on the field. Then he made the starting shirt his, going 13-0 in his rookie season. In short, the Offensive Rookie of the Year had a dream start.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots did eventually shut him down in the AFC Championship game, but Roethlisberger had an excellent regular season. After coming into the team with pressure on his shoulders, he took the NFL by storm. His 2621 passing yards were a very reasonable return, but the best was yet to come as ‘Big Ben’ eventually won two Super Bowls.

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