Becoming a starter for an NFL team is no small feat. At the start of camp 2,880 football players are competing for 1,696 available spots on an NFL roster. There are only 704 available starting positions.
It’s even tougher for draft picks. While careers start with optimism, the reality is that becoming a “Day 1” starter is rare.
In this past Draft, 250 non-specialists were selected. How many of them are projected to be Week 1 NFL Starters? 29. Roughly four percent of this year’s projected Week 1 starters across the league are expected to be rookies.
Courtesy of Ourlads, who is renown for maintaining accurate and current NFL depth charts, I developed the below information regarding the projected Week 1 NFL rookie starters. While there could be changes come kickoff, this is a pretty close representation of what we can expect this week. Of course variables such as injuries and suspensions play a major role in who “earned” a job, but that’s always going to be the case. Please also keep in mind that this is only considering base offensive and defensive packages. Plenty of others will be prominent subpackage players, but for the sake of this exercise they aren’t included.
Let’s examine the rookies who are expected to start for their respective teams in Week 1.
14 teams, nearly half of the league, are not expected to start a rookie in Week 1. The Browns and Giants lead the way with three and only the Bengals, Broncos, Colts, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders and 49ers are expected to start more that one. The Bills, Panthers and Jaguars are the only 2017 playoff teams that will feature a rookie starter in Week 1.
Arizona Cardinals – Mason Cole, C, R3
Atlanta Falcons – None
Baltimore Ravens – None
Buffalo Bills – Tremaine Edmunds, LB, R1
Carolina Panthers – Donte Jackson, CB, R2
Chicago Bears – None
Cincinnati Bengals – Billy Price, C, R1; Jessie Bates, S, R2
Cleveland Browns – Antonio Callaway, WR, R4; Austin Corbett, G, R2; Denzel Ward, CB, R1
Dallas Cowboys – Connor Williams, G, R2
Denver Broncos – Royce Freeman, RB, R3; Bradley Chubb, DE, R1
Detroit Lions – Frank Ragnow, G, R1
Green Bay Packers – Oren Burks, LB, R3
Houston Texans – None
Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson, G, R1; Darius Leonard, LB, R2
Jacksonville Jaguars – DJ Chark, WR, R2; Leon Jacobs, LB, R7
Kansas City Chiefs – None
Los Angeles Chargers – None
Los Angles Rams – None
Miami Dolphins – Jerome Baker, LB, R3
Minnesota Vikings – None
New England Patriots – None
New Orleans Saints – None
New York Giants – Will Hernandez, G, R2; Saquon Barkley, RB, R1; BJ Hill, DT, R3
New York Jets – Sam Darnold, QB, R1; Nathan Shepherd, DL, R3
Oakland Raiders – Kolton Miller, OT, R1; PJ Hall, DT, R2
Philadelphia Eagles – None
Pittsburgh Steelers – None
Seattle Seahawks – Shaqueem Griffin, LB, R5
San Francisco 49ers – Mike McGlinchey, OT, R1; Fred Warner, LB, R3
Tamapa Bay Buccaneers – None
Tennessee Titans – None
Washington Redskins – Da’Ron Payne, DT, R1
The term plug-and-play certainly applies when it comes to interior offensive lineman with seven rookies earning Week 1 starting gigs. Surprisingly, the linebacker position also features seven rookie starters to tie for the lead.
Despite five quarterbacks selected in the first round, only Sam Darnold will start in Week 1.
Quarterback – 1
Running Back – 2
Wide Receiver – 2
Tight End – None
Offensive Tackle – 2
Interior Offensive Line – 7
Defensive Line – 5
Linebacker – 7
Cornerback – 2
Safety – 1
By Round Drafted
There isn’t too much surprise in how this breaks down but it’s still somewhat disappointing that lass than half of the first round picks from 2018 earned Week 1 starting roles. Kudos to Leon Jacobs for being drafted No. 230 overall and finding himself a starter.
Round 1 – 11
Round 2 – 8
Round 3 – 7
Round 4 – 1
Round 5 – 1
Round 6 – None
Round 7 – 1
It’s only the beginning for the 2018 rookie class and far more of them will earn starting gigs while some will struggle and get benched. This data helps provide a baseline for our expectations of how rookies are acclimated.