Reiding Between the Lines: Five Rookies Already Turning Heads

Photo: © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

1. RB/David Montgomery - Chicago Bears (No. 73 overall)

An organization that has shown little fear in the past about trading up for prospects of their liking. Despite not having a first or second-round selection in the 2019 draft following the Khalil Mack trade, general manager Ryan Pace didn't let that stop him from acquiring Montgomery in the third-round.

The rookie rusher has already come storming out of the gates, as he finished with 46 yards on six total touches in his first career game — three rushes for 16 yards and a touchdown and three receptions for 30 yards. There are some first-year players that just look different and the learning curve of the speed of the game has a minimal effect on them. Montgomery looked that way as his night was capped off with a seven yard scamper into the endzone.

2. LB/Devin Bush - Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 10 overall)

A prospect that many believed to be the most instinctive linebacker in the entire draft class, the Steelers were adamant about upgrading the speed in the center of their defense by trading up to acquire Bush. Surrendering their first and second-round selections as well as a 2020 third-round pick showed just how high the former Michigan linebacker was on their board. It was the first time the Steelers traded up in the first round since 2003.

In his preseason debut, it's easy to see why many were high on him. Showing off his speed, tackling ability, and instincts, he finished his first career game with 10 tackles. With the playing future of Ryan Shazier still remaining cloudy, having Bush in place gives the team a nice future security blanket in the middle of their defensive unit.

3. LB/Mack Wilson - Cleveland Browns (No. 155 overall)

Alabama has a long lineage of linebackers that have went on to become successful pros. After a standout career for the Crimson Tide, Wilson surprisingly fell all the way to the fifth-round. Right into the laps of the Browns, Wilson's aggression and fluidity were evident, but it was his ball skills that stole the show.

During his preseason debut, he finished with two interceptions — one that took in the opposite direction for a 40-yard pick six. He also finished with three tackles. A highlight reel evening that left many scratching their head as to why he lasted so long on draft night. Needing help at linebacker, the Browns are already happy with the positive steps that Wilson has shown early on. 

4. OT/Andre Dillard - Philadelphia Eagles (No. 22 overall)

The team with the most impressive roster in the league from top-to-bottom belongs to the Eagles. The roster become even stronger following the first night of the draft after trading up for what was labeled as the best pass protecting offensive tackle in the draft.

Dillard's nimble feet, active hands, and grit were on full display during his first career game. His smoothness in pass protection, but also showing a nasty demeanor in the running game was a welcomed sight to see. Being able to learn behind two of the best in the game in Jason Peters and Lane Johnson has the makings of helping him develop into one of the leagues best as he continues to develop and add seasoning to his overall game.

5. WR/Preston Williams - Miami Dolphins (Undrafted)

On a roster starved for talent throughout, the Dolphins may have found a gem in receiver Preston Williams. Hidden would be a misguided term for Williams due to him before a former highly touted five-star prospect at Tennessee before some personal mishaps resulted in him transferring to Colorado State.

Garnering a second chance there, he made the most of his opportunity. Because of his off the field issues and previous missteps, it resulted in him going undrafted. The talent was always there, but it was the off field aspects that made teams wary of drafting him. Once again getting another chance, Williams shined. During his preseason debut, he showcased the talent that had so many evaluators excited about him as he finished with four catches for 97 yards. 



Written By:

Jordan Reid

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Founder of Former QB and Coach at North Carolina Central Univ.