This preseason was the first opportunity to see what we could expect from the 2021 NFL Draft class. The group is headlined by the five first-round quarterbacks, all of whom showed potential. Also, some young defensive talent was on display early on, led by a few edge players. A lot of rookies showed encouraging things, especially the ones ranked here below. Expect these young players in the Preseason NFL Rookie Rankings to contribute right away in Week 1.
10. Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Moore is a versatile, dynamic player who has proven early on he fits in the offense Kliff Kingsbury will run. He has speed and can make plays underneath. Moore should be pivotal for Kyler Murray as he looks to take the next step in his development. This preseason, Moore was all over the field making plays. Throughout the season, expect this level of impact to continue from Moore.
9. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers will be counting on Harris in a big way his rookie season. Throughout the preseason, Harris showed just why. He is a very good dual-threat as a pure runner and pass-catching back. Harris made one very big play as a receiver. As a runner, he was very solid showing speed to the edge and the ability to make defenders miss. Harris also possesses great size. After a strong showing in the preseason, anticipate Harris continuing to improve.
8. Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots
Jones entered the summer as the clear backup and ended up earning the starting position. He had a fantastic three preseason games. He was a very efficient passer from the pocket who looked comfortable and did not commit any turnovers. Jones simply showed he can make plays with his arm. The New England Patriots made the right move to go with their first-round selection. It will be interesting to see if Jones can keep the same level of play early on in the regular season.
7. Zach Wilson, QB, New York Jets
Wilson had a great preseason for the Jets. He made quick decisions, was accurate in and out of the pocket, and showed his special overall arm talent. Wilson did not commit any turnovers and showed poise. He showed right away why he was the second overall pick. Wilson is a perfect fit for Mike LaFleur’s West Coast scheme. Wilson will have an exciting rookie year with the Jets.
6. Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, Carolina Panthers
This rookie class of wide receivers was a special one. During the preseason, Marshall was the best one. He made at least one big play in all three games. Marshall showcased his playmaking ability. He has both size and speed. Marshall can play in the slot and might be there early on this season. After an incredible preseason, the Panthers will have to keep Marshall integrated in the offense.
5. Kwity Paye, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts
Paye made his impact felt greatly along the Colts defensive front early this preseason. He had some impressive quarterback pressures, two sacks, and a forced fumble. Paye is a great raw talent and will help this already great defense. He brings a different dimension to this unit that was so successful a year ago. Paye proved his dominant pass-rushing ability which will continue.
4. Joe Tryon, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tryon is a physical specimen with great athletic ability. He was a force on the edge in the preseason for the defending Super Bowl champions. Tryon had a sack in each of the last two games along with a forced fumble. He generated a ton of pressure. Tryon brings great depth with Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. He will have an important role to help keep them fresh. Tryon had a tremendous start this August.
3. Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
After not playing last season, Parsons picked up right where he left off. He is a fast linebacker with versatility. He can make plays in a variety of ways. Parsons was all over the field this preseason for the Cowboys’ defense, a unit that needs all the help it can get. The Cowboys do have some depth at linebacker but Parsons should keep an integral role with his speed on the second level of the defense and ability as a pass rusher.
2. Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos
Surtain was a blast to watch in the Broncos’ first preseason game. He made an exceptional play intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown. Surtain also recorded two pass breakups in his exciting first start. He was successful in coverage in all three games. Overall, he proved why he was the top cornerback prospect in the draft by most accounts. It will be interesting to see his utilization throughout this season.
1. Gregory Rousseau, EDGE, Buffalo Bills
Rousseau had a dominant preseason for the Bills at a position of need. He was very successful in generating edge pressure in all three games. He recorded a sack in each of his first two performances. Rousseau has unreal size along with the ability to move well which will make him very tough for offensive tackles to stop. Expect his great preseason to continue right away in Week 1 for the Bills.
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