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Ranking Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and other NFL rookies most important to their team’s success

The NFL Draft is meant to allow teams the chance to narrow the talent gap between its opposition. The reality is that not all rookies are called into action immediately and each will have varied impact on the upcoming season. Here is one view on the rookies that could have the biggest impact in 2024:

NFL teams will only go as far as their quarterback can take them. C.J. Stroud was a perfect example of that last season. Expectations for the Texans were low going into the year until Stroud delivered his Rookie of the Year campaign. Williams has that potential.ย 

The NFC North is solid from top to bottom but there is not a single game in which victory is unattainable. A team goes from last to the playoffs every year. If Chicago is to do that in 2024, the No. 1 overall selection will have shouldered the load.ย 

Wide receiver was considered a need before Calvin Ridley spurned the franchise for a division rival. Gabe Davis was signed in free agency to relieve some of the urgency to address that position in the draft. Thomas is more dynamic than any other outlet on Jacksonville’s roster. If they are to bounce back from last year’s frustrating conclusion, then they will need Thomas to accelerate his development.ย 

For the first time since 2010, Dallas’ left tackle plans will not include Tyron Smith. Guyton played right tackle for the Sooners but is now being asked to play left tackle for the Cowboys, which allows Tyler Smith to remain at guard. The health and competency of the offensive line will determine whether or not the NFC East franchise can return to the postseason.ย 

Baltimore will likely advertise a training camp battle at right tackle between Daniel Faalele, Patrick Mekari and Rosengarten, but one would assume that the job is the 2024 second-round selection’s to lose. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley has struggled to stay healthy and second-year offensive guard Andrew Vorhees will be stepping in for Kevin Zeitler. It is a lot of turnover for a team regarded as the AFC’s best team for much of last season.ย 

Others in media were higher on Daniels during the pre-draft process but there is no denying his dual-threat capabilities and the stress that puts on opposing defenses. Daniels is one of the few rookie quarterbacks that will start Week 1 so his potential impact on the franchise is greater than most of his peers. There are questions about the offensive system and the offensive line, but Stroud faced similar turmoil on the offensive line a year ago.ย 

It is likely that third-round selection Brandon Coleman is important to the upcoming campaign as well. Washington is not flush with offensive line talent so Coleman could be pressed into action early at left tackle.ย 

It is well-documented that Pittsburgh has never had a losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin. They will be competing for a postseason berth yet again. The trials and tribulations of a young offensive line in a run-heavy scheme will dictate the level of success they are able to achieve. Broderick Jones, who was a first-round choice in the 2023 NFL Draft, is expected to transition back to left tackle following the addition of Fautanu, who played left tackle for Washington.ย 

Third-round wide receiver Roman Wilson could be important to the Steelers’ efforts as well given its lack of options at the position.ย 

Tampa Bay rushers finished dead last in yards before contact (0.89) last season, per TruMedia. The interior lacked ideal mass and struggled to create any displacement off the ball. Barton will be transitioning from left tackle but the franchise has to be under the assumption that the rookie can give them something they have been missing. The Buccaneers finished atop the NFC South a year ago. If they hope to repeat, they will need fresh faces like Barton to step up.ย 

New Orleans had to address its offensive line this offseason. Andrus Peat moved on after nine seasons with the organization. It is unknown whether or not the structural integrity of right tackle Ryan Ramczyk’s knee will allow him to play football moving forward and former first-round pick Trevor Penning has not lived up to expectations. If the Saints are to compete in the NFC South, Fuaga will have to grasp a role with both hands.

Los Angeles received great value by drafting defensive tackle Kobie Turner and edge rusher Byron Young last year. The loss of legendary interior defender Aaron Donald this off-season creates a big void along that front line. One player is incapable of replacing that lost production, but two will give them a fighting chance. If Matthew Stafford stays healthy, there is no reason to believe the Rams can not compete for the postseason yet again.ย 

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Author: Josh Edwards
July 11, 2024 | 9:05 am

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