In the first round of the NFL playoffs, a few first-year players provided key contributions to their team. All five of the rookies below were part of Wild Card victories and will be playing again this weekend. The top three ranked players will come as no surprise, as success has been expected of them all year.
Be sure to check out the final regular season rookie rankings here.
5. Carlos Basham, EDGE, Buffalo Bills
After playing sparingly in the regular season, Basham made an impact in the Bills’ first playoff game. On Saturday night, he recorded three total tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss. Hopefully for the bigger, physical defensive lineman and the Bills, this is just the start. Basham is a talented prospect, and more big plays will be needed from him this Sunday.
4. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, EDGE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers’ first-round selection has had an impressive rookie season, even in a talented defensive front that has depth. In Sunday’s playoff win, he finished with one tackle, one tackle for loss, and a pass deflection. He was utilized as a spy and made an impact. Tryon-Shoyinka is a gifted talent that will be counted upon for the Buccaneers to repeat.
3. Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Mitchell has had an awesome rookie year and recorded a solid playoff debut for the 49ers. The load was placed on Mitchell, as he finished the game with 27 carries on his way to recording 96 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. He will once again be relied on in a big way on the road in a cold-weather game. Expect another successful outing from the first-year running back.
2. Creed Humphrey, OC, Kansas City Chiefs
Humphrey continued his rookie season success in the Chiefs’ convincing win at home, helping the Kansas City offense score 42 points. He contributed to the great game Jerick McKinnon had on the ground, and was ranked highest amongst all offensive linemen in the Wild Card round per PFF. Against the best defense in the NFL this weekend, Humphrey will have to be a difference-maker yet again.
1. Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
The best rookie in the league kept it up in the Bengals’ first-round playoff game. Chase’s special contributions helped Cincinnati win their first playoff game in 31 years, and did so at home. Saturday, Chase finished the game with nine catches on 12 targets for 116 receiving yards. He was featured once again, and accounted for nearly half of the Bengals’ passing game. Chase also got three carries in the running game, gaining 23 yards and putting him at 139 yards in total. It will be exciting to watch him again this weekend in the Divisional round.
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