Even with a shortened offseason, these rookies can shine in 2020.
There has perhaps never been a tougher year in which to be a rookie entering the NFL.
With the offseason workouts that usually begin in earnest after the draft knocked off the schedule in a unique offseason, rookies will be up against the clock to adapt to the speed of the NFL and the new systems in which they will have to execute if and when training camps get going.
Yet rookies still excelled in 2011 following an offseason hindered by a lockout, with number one pick Cam Newton among those to hit the ground running nine years ago as he won Offensive Rookie of the Year after a spectacular first season with the Carolina Panthers.
The complications around this season may exacerbate the growing pains for some rookies but in many cases, the talent should still win out.
Indeed, the 2020 class was a very deep one filled with players who have the talent to be immediate contributors as rookies regardless of the circumstances surrounding the campaign.
Which rookies will have the biggest influence on their teams and become household names in 2020? Here we look at 10 first-year players who could soon be on the path to stardom.
10 NFL rookies bound for stardom in 2020
Joe Burrow – Cincinnati Bengals
The first overall pick enters a situation where he can succeed right off the bat. That may seem a strange sentence given the Cincinnati Bengals’ struggles in their first season under Zac Taylor last year, but Burrow’s supporting cast should allow him to excel early in his rookie campaign.
Much will depend on veteran A.J. Green’s health as he returns from a season lost to injury. However, even without Green, Burrow would still have Tyler Boyd — one of the most productive and underappreciated wideouts in the NFL — and second-round pick Tee Higgins.
Higgins’ ability to excel in contested-catch situations figures to be a significant aid to Burrow in his first season, while the running and receiving ability of Joe Mixon will help ease the burden on his shoulders.
The defense is significantly more talented than it showed last year but the big question surrounds an offensive line that ranked 20th in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate last season.
Cincinnati will look for Jonah Williams’ return from the torn ACL that cost him his rookie season to improve matters up front as he slots in at left tackle.
The O-Line continuing to struggle should not prohibit Burrow from starting strong, with his poise and pocket movement key features of his incredible 2019 for LSU.
Burrow has all the tools to develop into a premier NFL quarterback and it would be a questionable move to bet against him quickly turning things around for Cincinnati as a rookie.