Rookies are always a wildcard in ANY sport. The NFL Draft has been the home of huge talent that are able to carry their form from college to the big leagues. Although most first round picks are always the sought after talent, the NFL has seen gems in later rounds too. This season, some rookies are just balling on another level regardless of when they were picked. Below are four of the best rookies thus far into the NFL 2020-21 season.
Justin Herbert: A Stud QB Who Can’t Catch a Break
Justin Herbert has been playing football like a veteran this season. The 6th overall pick in this past draft has been BALLING for the Chargers and it’s hard to not appreciate. Though his team hasn’t had that unreal season result in wins, Herbert is destined to be a top QB in this league if he isn’t already. He ranks 10th among all QBs in pass yards (falls 2 under fellow rookie Joe Burrow) but played a game less than the rest of the pack. His QB rating of 104 ranks 9th in the NFL and is miles ahead of the other rookies. His poise in the pocket and polish for a rookie really make Herbert an interesting prospect. If the rest of his team can play at his level maybe it will translate into wins, but there is no denying Herbert is on the rise.
James Robinson: Undrafted Rookie Balling Behind an Unstable O-Line
James Robinson is having that Philip Lindsay surprise season this year for Jacksonville. The Jags have an absolute mess at O-Line and didn’t know what they were getting into when they signed Robinson. As an undrafted rookie, Robinson had to really prove himself in order to even be considered as a member of the main roster, let alone starter. With the Fournette departure and unknown backfield, the Jags took a chance on Robinson and it worked. It only took him till his second game to amass his first ever 100 yard rush game (has 2 already). He ranks 6th in rushing yards and in receiving yards for running backs this season. Not only has he been a godsend for the Jags, he has been a hero for deeper fantasy leagues too. James Robinson is the latest living proof that heart goes a long way.
Mike Onwenu: One of the Best Lineman This Season
Mike Onwenu was a diamond in the rough for the Patriots. New England doesn’t typically draft well and in the midst of their horrible season, Onwenu has been shining. He has allowed only 1 sack and has had only a penalty called on him in 451 snaps. He has shown plenty of growth for a 6th round draft pick. Onwenu played the guard position for most of his snaps but showed his will when covering the tackle position too. His 6’3, 350 pound frame allows him to basically hold down the fort and give his QB a little bit of help at least. PFF grades Onwenu at 90.4 which is the highest amongst rookies and fourth amongst all offensive lineman. The Shaq Mason/Mike Onwenu tandem is going to be nice for the Pats.
Antoine Winfield Jr: A Young Playmaker Bound for Stardom in Tampa
Antoine Winfield Jr is a feisty player for his size. The 5’10 Bucs safety has been improving on his craft since he got inserted as a starter for the extremely hyped up Tampa Bay squad. His speed and 36 inch vertical really help him get physical with much bigger guys in pass plays. He also likes to charge the line from time to time and even got himself a pair of sacks for his efforts. Although many other rookies may have flashier stats, Winfield’s presence is a major boost for the Bucs. Bruce Arians seems to really believe in Winfield and his ability. With his confidence gradually increasing snap by snap, it will come as no surprise to see Winfield’s efforts repaid with All-Rookie Honors. The Bucs really need to strike this season given all the hype they have, and the second round pick is living up to it.