Very few are able to produce in the NFL so early, but those that can often compete for Rookie of the Year. Who are some top candidates in 2014?
Jadeveon Clowney – Houston Texans
One can almost smell the chip build on the shoulder of Jadeveon Clowney. A lot of people decried him in 2013 due to his limited stat production after a monster sophomore year at South Carolina. News has recently surfaced the #1 overall pick played most of his junior year with a sports hernia. Surgery has since corrected this problem. Once healthy not only will he play across from J.J. Watt, but he’ll be tutored by one of the best in Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennell. Clowney will silence all doubts right away.
Khalil Mack – Oakland Raiders
The more an NFL rookie can do coming out of college, the better chance he has of competing for Rookie of the Year. Khalil Mack may be the most versatile player in the 2014 class. He’s the second best pass rusher behind Clowney but is also a sideline-to-sideline type linebacker who is also proven in coverage. Provided his coaches don’t put him on a leash, Mack could hit the ground running for the Oakland Raiders and get their defense back to respectability.
Brandin Cooks – New Orleans Saints
Darren Sproles was a hard loss to suffer for the New Orleans Saints, but they were quick to try to replace him when they selected Brandin Cooks in the 1st round of the NFL draft. Cooks has all the Sproles traits from the quickness to the speed and the good hands. Even better is the fact he’s taller. For Cooks, he gets a chance to learn under Sean Payton and catch passes from Drew Brees. Unless he gets hurt the kid is going to put up numbers.
Jordan Matthews – Philadelphia Eagles
The same can be said for Jordan Matthews. Though he didn’t go in the 1st round, the Vanderbilt star landed in a perfect situation. He enters an offense under Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles, a coach who likes bigger receivers. Matthews is polished so he can play right away and he’ll have Nick Foles throwing him the ball. It will be a challenge to get on the field, but once he does Matthews can catch the rock.
Bishop Sankey – Tennessee Titans
Despite the ongoing thought that running backs are devalued, they continue to compete for Rookie of the Year in the NFL each season. Of those taken in the draft, the one to look out for is Bishop Sankey. The Washington standout has a complete skillset, able to run between the tackles, catch passes and block. He’s under a head coach who likes to run the football in Ken Whisenhunt and his offensive line is poised to become one of the best in the league with Chance Warmack, Brian Schwenke and now Taylor Lewan joining the party. If they gel quickly, Sankey is going to see quite a few holes to run through.