Each Team's Break Out Rookies: AFC Edition

Kyle Kunert

AFC East

Buffalo Bills - Tremaine Edmunds LB Virginia Tech
- Not going to lie the Bills draft in my opinion leaves a lot to be desired. They drafted a quarterback who is the least pro ready among the first round rookies in my opinion, a very young up and down linebacker in Tremaine Edmunds, a run stuffing tackle, and a handful of small school defensive backs. To me there is no stud lying in the weeds here ready to break out. If anything I think Edmunds gets the most playing time as their need at a stud off ball linebacker in coach Sean McDermott\'s 4-3 front. However, I expect him to have a very inconsistent year much like Jarrad Davis did for the Lions as a highly athletic linebacker, but missing the key awareness and instinct traits to make him a consistent play maker right now.

Miami Dolphins - Minkah Fitzpatrick S Alabama/ Kalen Ballage RB Arizona St
- I think it will be a toss up between the top picked safety and one of my favorite sleeper running backs. Fitzpatrick has the talent, instincts, and athleticism to be a top flight safety paired with their Pro Bowler Reshad Jones. However, the issue is going to be how well this defense over comes the loss of Ndamukong Suh who put pressure on opposing quarterbacks to disrupt their rhythm. Without him in the middle the defensive backs may be left on an island for a few more seconds to be exposed. I also want to lean towards Ballage since the transition from the college to the pros is extremely easy for running backs over defensive backs for the most part. Ballage looks like a Matt Forte lite type player with good hands, vision, and a shiftiness to him to get through tight holes at the line. The issue is his mysterious lack of production has me worried that he is just a workout warrior than a true NFL caliber back. He should have an opportunity though with only Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake ahead of him. If given the opportunity he might just run away with it.

New England Patriots - Braxton Berrios WR Miami
- Yes, I am not going with the obvious choice in Sony Michel here and instead leaning towards the small slot receiver from the 6th round. Michel will be a popular sleeper, but New England has always run a heavy rotation of backs in their offense. Plus, we also know coach Belichick is not one to deal with fumbling issues and that was one of the red flags about Michel in college. If he puts the ball on the deck just one time he might be in the dog house. While I can see Berrios sneaking into the line up with Edelman most likely out a few games plus, he is still getting his feet under him after an ACL injury from last year. Meanwhile, the uninspiring bunch of Cordarelle Patterson, Malcolm Mitchell, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett are blocking his way. If he proves to be reliable and open for Brady I am sure he can make a big impression this season as the darling from the 2018 draft.

New York Jets - Sam Darnold QB USC
- I actually love what the Jets did after picking Darnold in the draft, but we all know who is the apple of the fans\' eyes in the big apple and that\'s Darnold. Even if guys like Nathan Sheperd, Parry Nickerson, or someone else has a good year it will not matter to the fans. The only thing that does is Darnold not looking overwhelmed and showing them hope. I would rather him win the job, but I expect the fans to cause the Jets to rush him into the line up. He will most likely have an up and down season on an offense lacking some talent, but I doubt he blows up. Darnold is an even keel player who has a lot of maturity and leadership talent to really shine throughout the year. I doubt he lights the world on fire his first season, but he should be able to put himself squarely into the mix among the young quarterbacks creating the new guard of elite signal callers when Big Ben, Brady, Manning, Rivers, and Brees finally call it quits.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens - Orlando Brown OT Oklahoma
- Bet you did not expect me to pick a right tackle in this right up, but I did. I doubt their rookie tight ends make much impact as it normally takes them a year or two to really shine or sometimes not at all. Just ask guys like OJ Howard, Maxx Williams, Eric Ebron, David Njoku, Gerald Everett, Adam Shaheen, Hunter Henry, and so on. Also, kind of why I do not approve of first round tight ends. I also doubt Lamar Jackson sees much of the field otherwise if he has success in just gimmick plays the league will be clamoring for him to start and then you have a headache on your hands. Instead, I think one of the steals of the draft can shine with a team that generally develops linemen very well. Brown has the natural talent, strength, and grit to be a terrific right tackle as a big mauler for them. I am not much worried about his lack of athleticism and I think he lands in a great spot here to get a starting job and succeed.

Cincinnati Bengals - None
- I love their draft from Jessie Bates to Mark Walton to Sam Hubbard and even Logan Woodside late in the draft. However, as long as Marvin Lewis and his mediocrity are here the rookies will not get a fair shake. Even last year when Joe Mixon was clearly ready to take over he continued to limit his snaps. Overall, this team is set in it\'s ways to wait until the veteran leaves to make room for a young guy to play. Just the fact that they held on to Adam Jones for so long as well as Dre Kirkpatrick, and Darqueze Dennard shows you how okay with mediocrity they are. Even a guy like Carl Lawson deserved more snaps last year. So, until this team starts to really try to be successful I will just wait to give them a positive write up just like they like to wait for good stuff to happen.

Cleveland Browns - Nick Chubb RB Georgia
- The Browns roster is honestly pretty loaded with young talent ready to burst so guys like Chad Thomas, Austin Corbett, and even Baker Mayfield will need to fight for a starting job. Meanwhile, a guy like Chubb just has to wait until Carlos Hyde gets nicked up again to steal his job. I like Hyde, but his injury history is what has prevented him from really turning the corner to a reliable top end back. Meanwhile, Chubb\'s strength has been health outside of one freak knee injury. His size, running style, and deceiving speed make him an intriguing center piece to the offense with their talented outside receiving options and Duke Johnson out of the back field. On a team vying to get a few wins I can see Chubb being the one to drag them to at least one or two of those wins.

Pittsburgh Steelers - None
- This roster is loaded and it would be shocking if any rookies really gain enough snaps to really shine. Maybe James Washington can get some recognition with a few breakaway plays, but I doubt he is as consistent game to game as JuJu Smith-Schuster was last year. I also doubt their first rounder Terrell Edmunds is good enough overall to be a real consistent play maker. Overall, this is a mix of how good their roster is, but how lacking of top end talent their draft class is.

AFC South

Houston Texans - None
- When you do not have a pick until the 3rd round it will be tough to get good talent even though they did find a few good pieces. I think Justin Reid is a stud waiting to be unlocked, but with them moving Kareem Jackson to safety I assume they are thinking Reid needs more time until he is ready. Meanwhile, guys like Jordan Aikins, Keke Coutee, and Duke Ejiofor are all buried on the depth chart for right now. Tackle Martinas Rankin should get the most playing time, but I am not ready to call him a lock down tackle just yet as I had him ranked much lower in my tackle rankings.

Indianapolis Colts - Quenton Nelson OG Notre Dame/ Braden Smith OG Auburn
- At first, I was very hesitant to say two guards are going to be stars for this team, but then again a guy like Zach Martin for the Cowboys was one of the most decorated stars from his draft class thus far. So why not both Nelson and Smith if they succeed in protecting a hopefully healthy Andrew Luck and help carry this offense to the playoffs then they should be getting the recognition that they deserve. Both Nelson and Smith have been put ahead of a solid veteran pair of Jack Mewhort and Matt Slauson, which has me thinking they are just that good to be handed the starting jobs so soon. I am sure two rookies on the line could have a few hiccups, but I loved both of these guys and they should be staples on a top blocking unit in the making.

Jacksonville Jaguars - None
- Their draft was solid, but most of the studs are blocked by others ahead of them. Taven Bryan needs to wait until either Malik Jackson or Marcell Dareus are gone. Ronnie Harrison needs to wait until Tashaun Gipson or Barry Church start to falter. Meanwhile, D.J. Chark needs to work past Dede Westbrook, Marqise Lee, Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, Rashad Greene, and bad quarterback play until he can really shine. Hopefully Tanner Lee becomes the gem of this draft class and overtakes Blake Bortles, but I doubt it happens. Overall, this draft class needs a redshirt year until they are ready to shine.

Tennessee Titans - Rashaan Evans LB Alabama
- I think it\'s a toss up between Evans and Landry over who will shine from this draft class the most. I lean towards Evans who has a more clear path to starting than Landry who is behind Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo. Granted the sack artist Landry could have flashier numbers, but a guy like Evans has the ability to be the anchor to this defense. Plus, with their new head coach Mike Vrabel a former stud linebacker there to mentor the young Crimson Tide backer he has a shot to really develop into a special player with his instincts. However, they still play for the Titans who really do not get much media love and very well will not be very much talked about in the long haul.

AFC West

Denver Broncos - Royce Freeman RB Oregon
- Of course, I think Bradley Chubb will be the best player from this excellent draft class, but I also know edge rushers take a bit to get their feet under them in the NFL. Unlike running backs which is a plug and play type of position from college to the pros. Freeman also has a clear shot to heavy snaps and playing time behind Case Keenum who needs to lean on a consistent running game for success. I loved Freeman as a prospect between his size, speed, hands, and vision to be a really well rounded back. In fact, I think he could be a better player than guys like Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, and others taken before him. Plus, on a high profile team like the Broncos a guy like Freeman can really flourish into a big brand name.

Kansas City Chiefs - None
- This was the worst draft class in my opinion reaching on guys like Breeland Speaks, Derrick Nnadi, Dorian O\'Daniel, and others who are just average to below average prospects. None provide that athletic spark you need on defense now a days and none are known to be sack artists or difference makers on defense. I love Andy Reid as a head coach, but just like in Philly where he had too much control in player decision making that led to his down fall I think it is happening again in Kansas City where he is getting a bit over his skies in the draft room and cutting good players from the roster. I would not be shocked if this is a collapse year for this team.

Los Angeles Chargers - Derwin James S Florida St....maybe
- I feel like I have to pick James here since the rest of the draft was just okay, but I am not really as in love with James as many others are. Yes, he is an athletic freak, but I think playing safety in the NFL takes more than just athleticism. It also takes a great deal of patience, instincts, awareness, and versatility unlike other positions on the defense. Just look at a guy like Adrian Amos who is statistically one of the best safeties in the league, but lacks that athleticism people fall in love with. Guys like Reshad Jones, George Iloka, Morgan Burnett, Patrick Chung, and others all thrive with heady play over pure athleticism. Not to say James will not have success, but I do not think it is such a lock that his bound for the Pro Bowl like many think. I can see him very well being another Karl Joseph who flounders due to his lack of football instincts. However, I can see him making enough "splash" plays to make media and fans fawn all over him.

Oakland Raiders - None
- Another draft class I did not really love. Between reaching for Kolton Miller, P.J. Hall, and Brandon Parker to drafting problem child Arden Key after cutting Marquise King for being immature to drafting a huge medical risk in Maurice Hurst that caused many coaches and front office people to disparage the pick as being reckless. I just see this draft class as a mixed back of talent that can succeed, but also back fire on Jon Gruden in a hurry. Much like Kansas City I can see this en devour with a head coach with too much power blowing up in their face. Not the way you want to look before you head to Las Vegas trying to strike while the iron is hot after the Golden Knights\' success.