Three members from the Prime Time Sports Talk crew took a look at which rookies entered the best situation this year.
1) CeeDee Lamb (DAL)
Lamb inherits a spot in an offense that was one of the most productive in 2019. Dallas hired Mike McCarthy who oversaw some of Aaron Rodgers’s most prolific and pass-heavy seasons in Green Bay. With two established wide receiver studs and Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, Lamb will draw single coverage from Day 1.
2) Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)
Despite Damien Williams’s playoff heroics, the Kansas City running game has lacked since the departure of Kareem Hunt. Edwards-Helaire returns the pass-catching upside of Hunt while being a productive runner between the tackles. With Andy Reid and an explosive offense around him, don’t be surprised if Edwards-Helaire has some sneaky big games.
3) Cesar Ruiz (NO)
Ruiz replaces Larry Warford in a line that has four players who could make the Pro Bowl in 2020. While Ruiz gets adjusted to the NFL, New Orleans has two franchise tackles, stud rookie Erik McCoy, and the useful Andrus Peat.
4) Donovan Peoples-Jones (CLE)
His full potential wasn’t reached in Ann Arbor, but Cleveland offers Peoples-Jones an opportunity to thrive early in his career. The Browns have six legitimate weapons at their disposal with Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, and David Njoku. The touches might not come Week 1, but Peoples-Jones will be in a locker room with two of the hardest-working receivers in the league and be around an offense that wants to prove itself among the best in the NFL.
Taylor and Dobbins have many similarities as they come into the league. Neither will be an RB1 from Day 1, but both are behind mammoth offensive lines. Indianapolis’ offensive line is slightly better, but Baltimore’s scheme broke the all-time rushing yards record in 2020. In a supporting role, both should be efficient, and if incumbents Marlon Mack or Mark Ingram get injured or struggle, Taylor and Dobbins would immediately be top-tier options.
1) Jerry Jeudy (DEN)
Jeudy is entering a very good offensive scheme with Vic Fangio. Second-year quarterback Drew Lock will look to pass to Jeudy along with Courtland Sutton while having the option to run it with Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay. Jeudy thrives in breaking tackles and will make Lock’s life much easier. The Alabama offense and Denver offense are similar enough that Jeudy has an edge.
2) CeeDee Lamb (DAL)
Lanb is joining one of the most hyped teams in the NFL. He isn’t the best receiver on the team which he may be surprised about. With Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper as the top two targets, Lamb will be the best No. 3 receiver in the NFL and has a chance to get the ball when the other two wide receivers are under coverage.
3) Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)
Edwards-Helaire is entering the best situation in terms of personnel. He immediately becomes the best back in Kansas City and will be a nice and sneaky weapon for Andy Ried to deploy to ease the pressure on MVP Patrick Mahomes. Edwards-Helaire will be somewhat like what Mark Ingram is for the Ravens in the sense that he can sneak through when the quarterback gets lazy.
4) Joe Burrow (CIN)
Burrow will presumably start for a miserable Bengals club that has not been competitive in almost three decades. They failed on Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton and now hope that Joe Burrow doesn’t follow the same past. Burrow will open his career alongside a great receiver in A.J. Green while also welcoming the services of fellow rookie Tee Higgins.
5) Tua Tagoavilia (MIA)
Tagovailoa is the most controversial on this list as he is coming off of hip replacement. The Dolphins have a rising star in DeVante Parker as their top receiver and rookie standout Preston Williams to complement him. Tagovailoa will also have Jordan Howard to help punch the ball through and Matt Breida to gain some quick yardage. Tagoavilia will presumably not start Week 1 and will learn under Ryan Fitzpatrick at first, but he has the room all to himself once healthy enough.
1) Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)
The starting running back of the reigning college football champion LSU Tigers should fit in nicely with the reigning Super Bowl champions. Edwards-Helaire was the cherry on top of a ridiculous LSU offense and should provide the same role for Andy Reids’s Chiefs in the NFL. The team will be able to use him creatively as both a runner and a receiver out of the backfield.
2) A.J. Epenesa (BUF)
Iowa is known for putting top-tier defensive prospects in the NFL, but Epenesa is a special prospect even by their standards. He now has the opportunity to wreak havoc with a Bills pass rush that was already part of 2019’s second-best overall defense. He recorded 11.5 sacks his senior year and should start his professional career right where his college career left off.
3) CeeDee Lamb (DAL)
Dak Prescott is under pressure to perform well this season amidst a contract standoff with the Dallas Cowboys, but he should feel very comfortable knowing that Amari Cooper now has a sure-fire No. 2 receiver right behind him. Lamb is the latest of many Oklahoma wide receiver prospects to rise to the NFL and he should fit in nicely with Mike McCarthy’s pass-happy offense.
4) Jonathan Taylor (IND)
Jonathan Taylor was one of the college football’s most overlooked stars over the last three years. Wisconsin had a loaded offensive line and he took advantage with 6,174 yards and 50 touchdowns over three seasons. He’s joining a Colts team that boasts an elite offensive line of their own, so he should once again take advantage. It also helps that he doesn’t have to be a superstar right away given the presence of Marlon Mack.
5) J.K. Dobbins (BAL)
Dobbins didn’t make as much noise at Ohio State as Ezekiel Elliott, but he’s still a lethal offensive weapon. He’s coming off a 2,000-yard season and will provide yet another weapon for an already loaded Ravens offense. He is in a very similar situation to Taylor as Dobbins will start as the No. 2 back behind Mark Ingram.