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With four of the top five quarterback prospects going within the first 10 picks of the NFL Draft, it would be fair to assume that at least one of those highly-touted passers would be amongst the best rookies going into the 2018 NFL season.
Not so fast.
While all of the heavily scrutinized rookie quarterbacks could eventually become superstars at some point in their respective careers, all of them seemingly have to develop some of their raw attributes in order for them to reach their ceilings of being elite talents.
Amongst the other positions, there are a plethora of pro ready athletes that could quickly become fan favorites as they possess both the exceptional abilities and unwavering confidence to excel immediately. Although we are still a few months away before the start of the NFL season, it is never too early to attempt to gauge the best rookies that will captivate our hearts and minds this year.
Regarded by many as one of the best pure prospects going into the draft, Quenton Nelson has all of the physical tools and instincts to be one of the most prolific rookies in the NFL this season. More than just a formidable blocker, Nelson is a ferocious bully that can regularly push back oncoming defensive linemen, which was a vital reason why the Fighting Irish had an unstoppable rushing attack at one point.
Considering the Colts allowed the most sacks in the NFL last season, it was a no-brainer for them to take an elite guard prospect that can provide Andrew Luck with the requisite time needed to make accurate throws consistently. Although the Colts offensive line is still not perfect by any means, Nelson will be a vital piece for the Colts in both pass protection and opening running lanes starting day one of the regular season.
A well-built route runner, D.J. Moore will immediately provide the Panthers with another versatile weapon that can make plays all over the field. Adept at beating defensive backs in man coverage and finding soft spots in zone coverage, Moore is an intelligent playmaker that will regularly be in situations to shift the momentum of a given contest. While he may lack the ideal stature of an elite receiver, he is a fierce competitor that never gives up on a play as long as the football is within his vicinity.
Aside from Devin Funchess, the Panthers do not possess another elite receiver on the roster, which should allow Moore to be featured prominently in the Panthers offense by the start of the regular season. By the end of the season, we could very well be talking about Moore as the reliable outside pass-catching threat that Cam Newton has sorely needed throughout his career.
While the value of a cover corner has increased exponentially over the last few years as quarterbacks have become more heavily relied upon to make plays on offense, there is still something to be said for physical defensive backs that can close in on their targets with bull rushing speed. At his best when covering the slot or lining up near the line of scrimmage, Minkah Fitzpatrick will be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks to audible around as he his equally capable of rushing the passer and closing off intermediate routes to some of the speedier receivers in the NFL.
Considering how poor the Dolphins were at preventing opposing quarterbacks from making plays in the open field, Fitzpatrick is a versatile weapon that can noticeably strengthen Miami's secondary while providing a fearless gusto that should allow his surrounding teammates to play more ferociously at their respective positions.
Although there were many dynamic defensive backs to select from in the NFL Draft, none of them possessed the sensational combination of size, speed and strength that Derwin James did. With lightning quick closing speed and the physicality to explode through ball carriers, James will be able to bolster the Chargers defense on multiple fronts as he can be utilized as an inside the box linebacker or as a strong safety that is solid at covering intermediate routes.
With the ability to regularly make one-on-one tackles in space, James will emphatically make himself known as one of the best rookies to come out of the NFL Draft as his fierceness combined with his dynamic playmaking abilities will allow him to flourish quickly in a Chargers defense that is slowly but surely becoming a force to be reckoned with.
Exceptional at getting after the passer, Bradley Chubb is the prototypical defensive end that will be able to contribute right away for a Broncos team that is clearly stacked along the defensive line. While Chubb does have some experience making plays in coverage, he truly shines at tearing through offensive tackles and will strike fear into opposing quarterbacks no matter how confident they are in their fellow offensive linemen.
Although Chubb's off the charts athleticism and instincts would allow him to excel on any team, the fact that he will be lined up on other side of Von Miller will allow the rookie pass rusher to have more freedom to attack the passer as he will face less double teams. Even though the pass rusher position was not an immediate need for the Broncos, he was clearly the best player available and made what has already an intimidating defensive line even more terrifying.