NFL Preview 2021: These Rookies Could Shine In Year 1

An impactful rookie can change a team's trajectory


September 4, 2021

Based on all the hype, especially at the quarterback position, this year’s NFL rookies are going to immediately impress.

Plenty of first-year players around the league find themselves in great situations and are ready to make contributions right away. Impactful newcomers can be the difference of a team, but of course, not all will pan out.

Here are five rookies who could shine right away.

Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots
Bill Belichick isn’t waiving Cam Newton if he doesn’t see something in Jones, who impressed enough in preseason to earn the starting job from the veteran and former league MVP. In Belichick we trust, and in Jones, he trusts.

Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Who better to help Joe Burrow get reacclimated to playing NFL football than Chase, who Burrow played with at LSU? This young duo is already well-acquainted, and having that chemistry could benefit the young wideout in his first season in the NFL.

Christian Barmore, DT, New England Patriots
On the other side of the ball in New England, the second-rounder has made a great first impression in New England that will probably earn him more opportunity, despite the depth chart being a little crowded at the position.

Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
After receiver Julio Jones was traded to the Tennessee Titans, the Falcons have big shoes to fill offensively. As highly regarded as Pitts is coming out of Florida, there?s (probably) no rookie in the world who can fill that void completely. But going into his first year as the Falcons? No. 2 pass catcher, Atlanta certainly will try to get as much as they can out of him.

Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Alabama product likely will serve as the team?s plug-in option to take on a volume of rushing and receiving touches from the jump. Steelers running backs have a track record of being fantasy machines, and Harris is poised to take the baton.

Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets
The Jets still need pieces around rookie quarterback Zach Wilson to help him acclimate to the NFL, and even then, who knows if the quarterback thrives in New York? But since it isn?t guaranteed they complete passes at a high clip, Carter?s stock price could increase.

Thumbnail photo via Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports Images
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