09 Aug Rookies Who Could Have Immediate Impact in 2017
Four Rookies Who Could Have Immediate Impact in 2017
Written by James Passemato
The draft class of 2017 was loaded with talent primed to make a difference in the NFL for years to come. These players will be starring on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. For this article, we wanted to focus on a few players who we see as paying immediate dividends on their respective teams in 2017 (and may be fantasy football sleepers this season):
Jamal Adams, Safety, New York (AFC)
Basically New York has already thrown the towel in on 2017 and went into full rebuild mode. They traded away or lost 11 veterans in free agency, and this opened up huge holes in all areas of their team. New York used its 1st round (6th overall) pick on Adams as they were clearly looking for future impact players on defense (took 2 safeties in the first 2 rounds). Adams will be an opening day starter at Safety and will be very versatile for their defense. He has great skill sets to be used in multiple package schemes and should be on the field for most of the snaps this season for New York. They will have absolutely zero expectations for this team going into the year, but by season’s end we bet that Adams will be emerging as a new superstar in the Big Apple.
Jabrill Peppers, Safety, Cleveland
Cleveland was another team trying to rebuild after a poor 2016 season, finishing with a 1-15 record. They ended up gathering 3 1st round picks in the 2017 draft (DE, S, TE) and Peppers was seen as an immediate impact type of player. At 5’11” and 213 lbs with a unique combination of speed and power, he could be utilized both as a safety and swap in at linebacker. As with Adams above, Peppers will get an immediate chance to produce and shine on a team that has many weaknesses. Expect big production out of the rookie in his first season.
O.J. Howard, Tight End, Tampa Bay
A big offensive pickup in the 2017 draft was #19 O.J. Howard. The TE position has become very valuable in the NFL over the past few seasons, and Howard has the unique combination of speed and athleticism that has some comparing him to a Greg Olsen or Rob Gronkowski type player. He has also fallen into a good situation, and Tampa Bay has completely revamped their offense this offseason with the addition of DeSean Jackson to compliment Mike Evans. The pressure will be off having those two dynamic receivers on the field and playing alongside fellow TE Cameron Brate, so O.J. Howard surprisingly might find himself as a mismatch more often than not in the red zone. Although he may not accrue a ton of receiving yards given the vast options available to Jameis Winston, he could immediately see dividends in the red zone and put up several TD catches in his rookie season.
Deshaun Watson, Quarterback, Houston
This pick really depends on which direction Houston decides to go at QB, as they still have Tom Savage on their roster and he projects to be the starter. However, if after a few games Houston is struggling on offense (which is very likely), they may give Watson a shot at some starts since he may be seen as their QB of the future. As the #12 pick in the 2017 draft, Watson had some memorable moments at Clemson – most notably beating powerhouse Alabama in the national championship game in 2017. There have not been many cases where a rookie QB steps right into an NFL system and succeeds (besides Dak Prescott in 2016), but coaches have raved about Watson’s work ethic and players have applauded his character in the locker room already. Don’t be surprised if Watson either takes the job from Savage after a few games or starts outright at the beginning of the year, and he may even have some unpredicted success in year 1.