There is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the start of the 2020 NFL season. We already have seen a few first with virtual drafts and now the NFL recently eliminating two preseason games their will be a lot more pressure on this years crop of rookies. The learning curve is always tough for a first year player but it will be even tougher this year without OTAs and the usual rookie mini-camps. If we look at the landscape of the AFC West rookie class I do believe the learning curve won’t bother these athletes too much and we can possibly see a rookie of the year come out the AFC West.
RB CLYDE EDWARDS-HELAIRE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Andy Reid has a great track record of drafting running backs. His new weapon in KC draws comparisons to an old one he had in Brian Westbrook. Reid is one of those old school coaches that love the running back position. The last rookie running back he drafted with the Chiefs Kareem Hunt led the NFL in rushing yards. The new double-name bandit for the Chiefs is one of the more complete running backs we saw in 2019. He tied for the most receptions that resulted in at least a 10-yard gain (23), and he broke 71 tackles on 214 carries with another 14 broken tackles coming on his 55 receptions. Edwards-Helaire ranked first in PFF rushing grade and averaged an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. Edwards-Helaire should make an immediate impact on an already dynamic offense. Tyreke Hill and Travis Kelce will draw down the field defenders thereby leaving the underneath portion wide open. So I’m expecting Edwards-Helaire to eat.
WR HENRY RUGGS III, LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Raiders has always loved speed that’s has always been this team’s calling card. So when the Raiders drafted 4.27 burner Henry Ruggs late owner Al Davis was probably in heaven some where with a gigantic smile and a stop watch. Ruggs will be an immediate boost to a wide receiver corps that ranked 31st in team receiving grade last year. With his ability to both make plays in traffic and produce after the catch, Ruggs is a no-brainer fit for Jon Gruden’s West Coast offense. Ruggs averaged an FBS-best 12.1 yards after the catch per reception and generated a near-perfect 154.1 passer rating when targeted. Derek Carr has a big arm and Henry Ruggs has plenty of speed.
WR JERRY JEUDY, DENVER BRONCOS
Jeudy in many people’s eyes was not only the steal of the draft but the best wide reciever in the draft. He possesses a rare combination of explosiveness and route-running savvy. Jeudy has quick feet and has all the tools to be the best WR in football with more experience. Jeudy undoubtedly has the talent and polish to be a legitimate OROY contender. The Broncos have uncertainty with a young QB in Drew Lock and Bronco’s have a lot of new weapons to pair with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant and now former Lock go-to-target Albert Okwuegbunam so Denver has lots of mouths to feed. Volume will be the the question in Jeudy’s OROY opportunity.
Michael Ojemudia, CB, Denver Broncos
Switching to the defensive side of the ball. The Broncos rookie cornerback Ojemudia was one of the most underrated prospects in the draft. A very good off-coverage/zone player. His instincts are fantastic, he has serious length 6-foot-1 and 32 1/4-inch arms and he was productive in his last two years at Iowa with 15 pass breakups and six interceptions. Ojemudia had a fantastic pro day he ran 4.45 with a 36-inch vertical and a lightning-quick 6.87 three cone at the combine. Ojemudia joins a team that traded for a No. 1 cornerback this offseason in A.J. Bouye so he won’t be thrown to the No. 1 receiver fire instantly. Also, the Broncos return Bradley Chubb to their pass rush and acquired Jurrell Casey. How dare I forget about Von Miller? Everyone knows an effective pass rush is the best friend for corners on the island. Ojemudia finds himself in a dream situation in Denver as a rookie. Sleeper DROY candidate.
The Chargers had a huge need at the linebacker position and gave up their second and third round picks to trade up for Murray. He will be on the field as long as the Chargers allow him to be. Murray has great sideline-to-sideline speed and is incredibly explosive. Murray is aggressive from the snap of the ball. He has value as a pass-rusher from the WILL linebacker spot and has a knack for being disruptive. His character and work ethic are both plus traits that will translate well to the NFL. I like his chances of winning DROY.