Continuing down the list of first-round picks, will a rookie standout emerge this season?
As we continue this segment of the Rookie Watch, we take a look at picks twelve through twenty-one. While the previous list was littered with quarterbacks, this one is full of players who don’t score. Can any of them end up being the key to a successful defense or O-Line in 2018?
Vita Vea (DT) – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How can you judge this rookie? Vita Vea has been missing from practice for a little over a month after suffering a strained calf muscle. Bucs’ coach, Dirk Koetter confirmed Vea would not be ready to suit up for Week 1, and it’s unclear what the time frame is for the injury. At the very least, Koetter also said Vea has been working to maintain his shape and managed to keep his weight down despite the lack of practice. When he returns, we’ll have a better idea if he can invigorate the pass rush or not.
Daron Payne (DT) – Washington Redskins
Washington fans have extremely high hopes for their rookie defensive tackle, Daron Payne. He’s a notorious rush stopper, and running backs should be scared of him. Defensive Coordinator, Jim Tomsula has been excited about his addition for a while, praising Payne’s talent. Payne himself has been extremely confident heading into the NFL, and so far he’s been able to back up this talent. He’s coming out of Alabama as one their top players, and he finished college with 102 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, and a touchdown.
Marcus Davenport (DE) – New Orleans Saints
For Saints fans, Davenport shows a glimmer of promise but has all the signs of a rookie in the NFL. His first preseason game was a success where he had three tackles and half a sack. However, in the second game, he didn’t even accumulate one stat point to help him stand out. Davenport is probably going to be a back up this season, and that’s completely fine. He’s been working hard this offseason, and the former UTSA player has plenty of talent to go far in his career. He finished college with 185 tackles and 21.5 sacks, which already proves he has the ability to be a great defensive end once he shakes the nerves.
Kolton Miller (OT) – Oakland Raiders
Could Miller have been the wrong choice for the Raiders? It’s certainly possible, with plenty of analysts and fans hoping Oakland would have gone with a stronger Offensive Tackle. At this point, his performance in the preseason left a lot to be desired, and it’s unclear if this was just nerves or a real reason to be worried. The fact is, The Raiders need to keep Derek Carr healthy this season and if Miller isn’t up to the task then expect to see him ride the bench this year.
Tremaine Edmunds (LB) -Buffalo Bills
This rookie linebacker is definitely going to be one of the highlights of the year. The Bills treated him like an all-star during the preseason, allowing him to sit out the final game. At only twenty years old, he’s the youngest starting linebacker for his Bills team. The former Virginia Tech player finished college with a whopping 213 tackles, 10 sacks, and 1 interception. He’s definitely a player fans will want to keep in an eye because he has the real potential of being a major winner from this draft class.
Derwin James (S) – Los Angeles Chargers
James is another rookie with the potential to blow up this year. The Chargers have already admitted they expect big things from this rookie and it’s no surprise. Derwin James is resilient, he had to undergo a knee surgery during college which ended his sophomore season early. However, he bounced back better than ever which eventually led him to his spot in the NFL. The 6 foot 2 safety is massive and has the speed to impress the fastest cornerbacks. His teammates are quick to mention his great personality, something which will get him far in the NFL.
Jaire Alexander (CB) – Green Bay Packers
The Packers have routinely praised Jaire Alexander’s playmaking skills and fans will get to see them in action this week. He’s spoken about the confidence boost he received by getting picked in the first round, and he’s done relatively well during the preseason. However, in college, he sat out of the TaxSlayer Bowl due to multiple injuries and that should leave Green Bay viewers a bit worried. If Alexander can stay healthy then he’ll be a more asset to the Packers. If not, this rookie might be in for some trouble, especially in Green Bay where it seems every season they’re plagued by injury.
Leighton Vander Esch (OLB) – Dallas Cowboys
Vander Esch has a lot of raw athletic ability, making it unsurprising the Cowboys would take him in the first round. However, it’s unclear exactly how much of an impact he’ll have for the team this year. He only played in the first preseason game before winding up on the injury list with a groin injury. Luckily, he will be playing in Week 1 but no one is sure how much playing time he’ll receive. The Former Boise State rookie signed a decently sized contract ($11.847 million and a $6.696 signing bonus) so hopefully, he will be able to back up that money.
Frank Ragnow (C) – Detroit Lions
Ragnow hasn’t really gotten that much attention coming out of the draft but he’s leaving the University of Arkansas as an accomplished center. He played over 900 snaps in college, a number which will wow any scout. Avoiding injury and keeping the sack numbers exceedingly low is exactly what many NFL teams are hoping for. As a dominant force in college, Detroit fans will learn just how important he is to their team this year.
Rashaan Evans (LB) – Tennessee Titans
Does anyone know what’s going on with Rashaan Evans? The rookie linebacker is apparently dealing with an injury, but no one seems to know what. Near the end of July, he simply left practice, and Mike Vrable said it might be heat related. While he’s back now for limited practices, fans want to know what exactly the problem is. Seems like Tennessee fans are getting frustrated with the lack of information about Evans coming out and it could lead to his downfall with this team.
What do you think of numbers 12 through 21 in this year’s draft? How do you think they’ll fare this season? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!