I love everything about the NFL Draft but the challenging part of the discussion surrounding prospects is that team and scheme fit matter SOOO much. Talking about prospects is much easier now that we know what team they play for. With that knowledge, let’s make some predictions regarding which rookies will lead the league in notable statistical categories.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open.
Passing Yards: Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals didn’t move on from its top-10 quarterback from a season ago and select Murray No. 1 overall for him to not be the guy from Day One, especially with Brett Hundley as the only other rosterable quarterback in the mix for Arizona. The same cannot be said for 2019’s other first-round quarterbacks. Daniel Jones is likely to be the understudy of Eli Manning for at least this season and Dwayne Haskins enters the league with just one season of starting experience in college. I can see either Colt McCoy or Case Keenum being “the guy” at least initially in Washington. I don’t think Murray has any real competition in becoming the NFL’s rookie leader in passing yards next season.
Prediction: 3600 passing yards
2018 Leader: Baker Mayfield, 3,725 passing yards
Rushing Yards: Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
With Marshawn Lynch out of the mix and Isaiah Crowell out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, the path for Jacobs to be the lead back in Oakland is clear. Jacobs features a blend of size, power, burst, balance, vision and elusive traits that give him dynamic playmaking potential in the NFL. An every-down talent, Jacobs features no limitations in how he can be used and I expect him to be featured heavily as a rookie. No other rookie running back projects to the role of a feature back in 2019 and barring injury, Jacobs should take the rookie rushing title handily.
Prediction: 960 rushing yards
2018 Leader: Saquon Barkley, 1,307 rushing yards
Receiving Yards: DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
This fit is just too perfect. Russell Wilson thrives extending plays and pushing the ball down the field and Metcalf is a rare blend of size, speed and power at receiver. With Doug Baldwin no longer in the mix, Metcalf has the opportunity to immediately step in as Seattle’s X-receiver. The volume of receptions may not be there, but Metcalf’s yards per reception should be enough to place him atop the list of rookie receiving leaders. Deebo Samuel has a chance to make some noise in San Francisco as does N’Keal Harry in New England, but the depth chart, fit and opportunity for Metcalf in Seattle gives him the edge for me.
Prediction: 850 receiving yards
2018 Leader: Calvin Ridley, 821 receiving yards
Tackles: Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Using six of its eight 2019 draft picks on defensive prospects, Tampa Bay got real serious about fixing that side of the football. The Bucs haven’t had issues moving the ball offensively in recent years, but slowing down opponents has been a problem. Investing a top-five selection on linebacker Devin White provides Tampa with its field general and quarterback of the defense from Day One. A blend of size, strength and athletic ability, White has no restrictions and should be an every-down defender for the Bucs starting in 2019. Fellow Devin and top-10 linebacker Devin Bush should challenge White for the rookie lead in tackles but White’s role on a less talented defense should lead to more opportunities to finish plays.
Prediction: 140 total tackles
2018 Leader: Darius Leonard, 163 total tackles
Sacks: Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers
You know the Bosa brothers are competitive and Nick is eyeing Joey's 10.5-sack rookie season (12 games) and aiming to top it. On a loaded 49ers defensive line, Bosa is primed to turn in a monster rookie season. Boasting a translatable and NFL-ready pass rushing skill set, Bosa and Dee Ford are among the most potent duo's of EDGE rushers the league features. San Francisco did a terrific job of making its primary weakness and area of strength this offseason.
Prediction: 11 sacks
2018 Leader: Bradley Chubb, 12 sacks
Interceptions: Nasir Adderley, Los Angeles Chargers
Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has to be swooning over his defensive personnel. A pass rush led by Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram and Jerry Tillery with the likes of Desmond King, Derwin James and Casey Hayward covering on the back end creates endless schematic possibilities. Now add Adderley to the mix who can thrive attacking the football playing over the top. My notes on Adderley’s ball skills from my trait-by-trait scouting report:
Tracks the football naturally and is disruptive at the catch point. Usually arrives on time and breaks on the football with proper technique. Equally sound breaking forward on the ball or with his back to the line of scrimmage. Worthy of that ballhawk label.
Prediction: 5 interceptions
2018 Leader: Donte Jackson, 4 interceptions