2020 NFL Rookie Analysis
The 2020 NFL Draft was like no other. Completed remotely, Roger Goodell was talking into a camera from his home rather than addressing an audience of thousands.
While the draft process was different throughout, moving from college athlete to NFL star was the same for the draftees. Joe Burrow, selected first overall, was met with the same pressure. The attention on each high pick was every bit as fierce, and front offices were judged with the same harshness as they are in normal seasons.
With the 2020 NFL regular season wrapped up, let’s look back on the rookie seasons of some of the 2020 Draft’s biggest names.
Taken first overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, Joe Burrow had the hopes of a franchise on his shoulders. The Bengals were terrible in 2019, and their reward was a Heisman Trophy winner who possessed elite passing accuracy and poise in the pocket.
Burrow shone as a rookie before a brutal knee injury cut his campaign short in late-November. Multiple ligaments were damaged, ruling the Bengals quarterback out long-term, but there was enough in his brief taster of NFL action to show he can lead Cincinnati onto a brighter future.
Solid in run defense and spectacular as a pass rusher, second overall pick Chase Young will be getting a taste of playoff football to end his rookie season after Washington Football Team clinched the division.
Young registered 12 quarterback hits in his 15 games and 10 tackles for a loss. His 7.5 sacks was only bettered by 21 players – Joey Bosa and Bradley Chubb sat level with Young in total sacks.
Washington’s rookie star set high standards in his rookie year, though inconsistency crept into his game. How good will he be in 2021?
Injuries saw Tua Tagovailoa’s draft stock fall. Once the consensus first overall pick, Tagovailoa fell to the Miami Dolphins at fifth overall. Miami opted to start with the rookie as backup to Ryan Fitzpatrick until his Week 6 debut.
The Dolphins fiddled with their quarterback situation more often than most, resulting in a Week 16 fourth quarter benching for Tagovailoa. His performances in general were impressive, and he’s shown sufficient talent to be considered a franchise QB, but it will be fascinating to see how Miami manages the situation next season.
The heavy favorite to win NFL Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert was sixth in the league in passing yards through his rookie year as a Charger. An average of 7.3 yards per pass put him among the game’s elite, just behind Russell Wilson (7.5) and comfortably ahead of Ben Roethlisberger (6.3).
After years with Philip Rivers, the Chargers have their long-term quarterback in Herbert. He’s combined accuracy with solid arm strength even on a subpar Chargers team.
Comparisons to Burrow and Tagovailoa are inevitable – will Herbert be the best quarterback from the class of 2020?
Selected with the final pick of the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire took to the NFL like a duck to water. He immediately became an important component in Kansas City’s league-best offense.
Ranking 19th in rushing yards isn’t exactly spectacular but given the Chiefs’ firework passing game led by Patrick Mahomes, the rushing of Edwards-Helaire was more supplementary than foundational for their offense.
The 32nd overall pick fared well in yards per rush, too. His 4.4 mark was better than Kareem Hunt, Phillip Lindsay, Josh Jacobs and Ezekiel Elliott.
Kansas City is Super Bowl betting favorites – Edwards-Helaire’s regular season was cut short by injury, but he should be back in time for their playoff push.