The 2019 Rookie Each NFL Team Is Most Thankful For

Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With Thanksgiving in just a few days, it is time we consider what we are thankful for. This is an NFL draft website so it would only make sense for us to take this opportunity to consider which 2019 rookie each NFL team is most thankful for. Some teams make it extremely difficult to pick just one while a fair share of teams are getting minimal production from their rookies.

Let's examine.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills - DT Ed Oliver: General manager Brandon Beane assembled another terrific rookie class so there were several options to consider for the Buffalo Bills. With that said, Ed Oliver fills such an important role as a penetration-style three-technique in Sean McDermott’s 4-3 defense. He has racked up sacks in each of the Bills’ last two games and is heating up as the season progresses. He should be a dynamic interior force for a long time in Buffalo. 

Miami Dolphins - DL Christian Wilkins: There is not much that is “set” on the Miami Dolphins’ roster, but the defensive tackle duo of Davon Godchaux and Christian Wilkins looks like a keeper. A perfect “culture” addition to the team, Wilkins is an ideal player for Miami to have in its current rebuild. His energy is infectious and his on-field performance matches his overall enthusiasm. Both Godchaux and Wilkins are among the Dolphins’ top-five leading tacklers this season. 

New England Patriots - P Jake Bailey:The New England Patriots are a veteran roster with little in the way of contributing rookies in significant roles, but Jake Bailey beat out Ryan Allen for the punter job and has been excellent. Bailey, who is averaging 43.3 net yards per punt, has pinned 29 of his 62 punts inside the 20. 

New York Jets - DT Quinnen Williams: A Week 1 foot injury set Quinnen Williams behind, but he has recovered and is coming on for the New York Jets. A starter for the NFL’s No. 1 ranked run defense, Williams has been a stout presence for the Jets’ interior defensive line and is starting to develop consistency as a pass rusher. He is destined to be a star. 

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens - WR Marquise Brown: The Baltimore Ravens offense presents so many challenges for opponents, including the game-breaking playmaking skills of Marquise Brown. He has 477 receiving yards and four touchdowns while averaging 15.9 yards per reception through eight games. He leads all Ravens wide receivers as a rookie and his presence on the field with Lamar Jackson is more speed than NFL defenses can handle. 

Cincinnati Bengals - WR Stanley Morgan: The Cincinnati Bengals are 0-11 and receiving very little from their rookie class. So much so that Stanley Morgan’s quality contributions as a four-phase special teamer is the choice. Morgan has caught three passes for 18 yards this year, but his work on special teams gives him a chance to stick on the roster and provide depth for Cincinnati. 

Cleveland Browns - CB Greedy Williams: It has not been perfect, but Greedy Williams has shown enough in seven games to indicate he can be the answer opposite Denzel Ward. Improving weaknesses from college, Williams has been a sound tackler and defended the run with urgency to compliment his success in coverage. 

Pittsburgh Steelers - LB Devin Bush: The leading tackler on the NFL’s No. 7 defense, Devin Bush has stepped in and provided the Pittsburgh Steelers a much-needed athletic, rangy presence on the second level. The Steelers defense is loaded with premier talent and Bush has the makings to be the face of the unit. 

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans - OT Tytus Howard: The Houston Texans faced plenty of criticism for their “reach” securing Tytus Howard in the first round but he has had some really strong performances that offer an indication he could be a long-term fixture up front. He has not been without some sloppy moments but he is developing much more quickly than many expected. 

Indianapolis Colts - CB Rock Ya-Sin: Things have been up and down for Rock Ya-Sin, but he has claimed a starting role for the Indianapolis Colts and has turned in stellar performances the last two weeks. Ya-Sin is known for his physicality and ability to tackle and has impressed in that regard all season long. 

Jacksonville Jaguars - EDGE Josh Allen: Racking up eight sacks in 11 games, Josh Allen has quickly emerged as a dynamic pass rusher in the NFL. The Jacksonville Jaguars have a challenging cap situation to manage moving forward, but the promise of Allen should make some of those defensive line decisions easier to navigate. 

Tennessee Titans - DT Jeffery Simmons: It is remarkable Jeffery Simmons was able to make an impact at all after tearing his ACL in February. But after playing in each of the last five games, Simmons has quickly showcased his playmaking ability with 17 total tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. His explosiveness and power should make him an impact defender for years to come. 

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos - OG Dalton Risner: Dalton Risner, a Day 1 starter for the Denver Broncos, claimed the right guard job and has been outstanding ever since. While the other starters along Denver’s offensive line have been shaky, Risner has been a standout in pass protection. His run blocking has not quite reached the levels we saw at Kansas State but he has every trait to be successful in that area. Risner may be a 24-year-old rookie, but he is executing like a veteran and looks like a long-term fixture up front for Denver.

Kansas City Chiefs - WR Mecole Hardman: Mecole Hardman to the Kansas City Chiefs was a match made in Heaven. Blessed with a rare blend of elite speed and exceptional ball skills, Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes are the perfect coach-quarterback combination to get the most out of Hardman — especially given the other offensive talent on the roster. Hardman has shown he is an explosive playmaker with five receiving touchdowns while racking up 450 yards and averaging 19.6 yards per reception. He is also handling kick and punt return duties for the Chiefs.

Los Angeles Chargers - LB Drue Tranquill: There has not been much to get excited about regarding the Los Angeles Chargers’ rookie class, but Drue Tranquill has proven to be an exceptional four-phase special teams player for Los Angeles.  

Oakland Raiders - RB Josh Jacobs: The favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, Josh Jacobs has already accumulated over 1,100 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in 11 games. He has served as the focal point of the Oakland Raiders’ offense, dominating after contact and serving in a multifaceted capacity. 

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys - RB Tony Pollard: The Dallas Cowboys have received very little from rookies this season, but the presence of Tony Pollard provided the team with intriguing depth behind Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard has 257 rushing yards and a touchdown to go with 12 receptions for 90 yards and a score. Pollard being part of the mix keeps two running backs and a fullback on the roster and allows for more depth in other areas. 

New York Giants - DT Dexter Lawrence: For a DT class headlined by Williams, Oliver and Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence has been the most impactful and dynamic interior defensive linemen from the 2019 class to date. He has been outstanding as both a pass rusher and run defender for the Giants’ defense. 

Philadelphia Eagles - RB Miles Sanders: The Philadelphia Eagles overhauled their running back stable this offseason which allowed Miles Sanders to come into his own as the year rolls along. In addition to his contributions as the Eagles' kick returner, Sanders tallied 774 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns. He has provided the Eagles’ backfield with a much-needed big-play threat. 

Washington Redskins - WR Terry McLaurin: Terry McLaurin has been a godsend for the Washington Redskins’ offense that is littered with question marks. Emerging as the Redskins No. 1 receiver, McLaurin has 40 receptions for 638 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. He has arguably been the biggest steal of the 2019 draft. 

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears - RB David Montgomery: David Montgomery has not been dominant, but the Chicago Bears’ offense has been awful and the rookie class, Montgomery included, has provided little help. However, he has climbed up the substandard ranks of Chicago’s backfield to be its leading rusher with 680 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns. 

Detroit Lions - LB Jahlani Tavai: The Detroit Lions loved the idea of adding Jahlani Tavai’s size, range, physicality and versatility to their defense and that is exactly what he has provided. Tavai, who has starred in subpackages, racked up 38 tackles, two sacks, 5.5 tackles for loss, a pass breakup and forced a fumble. He is primed to earn more and more playing time moving forward. 

Green Bay Packers - OL Elgton Jenkins: The depth of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line has been a cause for stress in recent years, and an injury was the reason Elgton Jenkins initially earned a starting gig. Jenkins replaced a hurt Lane Taylor and became the starter at left guard. Now, he is performing like someone who will not be relinquishing that job for a long time. Entering Week 12, Jenkins had yet to allow a sack or hit on the QB and has performed adequately in the run game. He does need to reduce the number of penalties he commits, but Jenkins has already proven to be a second-round steal for Green Bay. 

Minnesota Vikings - C Garrett Bradbury: Garrett Bradbury’s career got off to a bumpy start over the first quarter of the season but he has turned things around since and developed consistency as both a run and pass blocker. The Minnesota Vikings feature a top-five rushing offense and have allowed just 22 sacks on the season. Bradbury is a big reason why. 

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons - OT Kaleb McGary: Kaleb McGary, who quickly recovered from cardiac ablation in late July, has not missed a beat and started in all 11 of the Atlanta Falcons’ games at right tackle. He has been far from dominant but has not been disappointing either. McGary should continue to grow considerably as the season progresses after missing so much important developmental time in August. 

Carolina Panthers - EDGE Brian Burns: Brian Burns’ impressive blend of length, burst, flexibility and the ability to find soft places in the pocket have led to 5 1/2 sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Unfortunately, a wrist injury has limited Burns in recent weeks despite his efforts to play through it. His outlook is exciting. 

New Orleans Saints - C Erik McCoy: When Max Unger retired in the offseason, the New Orleans Saints were left with an important hole to fill and Erik McCoy has been their man. He is arguably the best rookie offensive linemen through 12 weeks and has stepped in admirably to replace Unger. McCoy is playing like he is the long-term answer at center for the Saints. He has kept the pocket clean while also impressing in the run game. McCoy was sensational for Texas A&M in 2018  and his transition to the Saints’ offense has been remarkable. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - LB Devin White: While he has been up and down, Devin White has shown some exciting flashes that reveal the impact he can make as a top-five selection. White is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ second-leading tackler despite missing three games, racking up 62 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. 

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals - QB Kyler Murray: The Arizona Cardinals’ offense is still finding their way, but Kyler Murray’s playmaking ability has been exciting. His passing efficiency has developed nicely this year, throwing seven touchdowns and only one interception in the last three games. Murray has a bright future, and it is especially exciting to see him do a good job of protecting the football early in his career while still making dynamic plays. 

San Francisco 49ers - WR Deebo Samuel: Deebo Samuel is a perfect fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense and he is breaking out nicely in recent weeks. Over the last three games, Samuel has 18 receptions for 296 yards and a touchdown while showcasing his ball skills, ability to create for himself, competitive toughness and physicality. If he can stay healthy, Samuel is going to be a star for the San Francisco 49ers. 

Seattle Seahawks - WR DK Metcalf: What a fit DK Metcalf has been for the Seattle Seahawks. After many were bent out of shape because Metcalf does not run routes like Antonio Brown, the Seahawks understood the skill set he does have, how valuable it is and just how difficult it is to defend. Metcalf has hauled in 38 receptions for 630 yards and five touchdowns. He is a size/speed/power mismatch for Russell Wilson and that should be a special connection for years to come. 

Los Angeles Rams - S Taylor Rapp: After starring in subpackages to start the season, Taylor Rapp has taken over as a starter for the Los Angeles Rams as of Week 7 and he has been outstanding. Rapp has filled a variety of roles and been a standout tackler in run support and sound in coverage. He is third on the Rams in tackles, producing 61, and has tallied four pass breakups and three tackles for loss. 

Written By:

Joe Marino

Director of Administration

Director of Administration & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Member of the FWAA.

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