With the 2020 NFL draft behind us, it’s time to start analyzing the rookies from the draft class. Which of them will rise, and which of them will bust?

Football field. Football is a difficult game and can be even more difficult for rookies.
Football is a difficult sport for rookies to get adjusted to.
Photo by Eileen Ploh from Pixabay

With the NFL season starting soon, fans everywhere are wondering how it will unfold. One of the major things to consider is the rookie class from the 2020 draft. Every year there are draft selections that turn out extremely well – many of the NFL’s prospects turn in to some of the greatest players we’ve ever seen. With that said, there also seems to be an ever-growing list of horrible draft busts.

So with our eyes on the 2020 rookie class, how will they turn out? Which of them will look like fantastic selections, and which of them will end up as huge regrets? Who could become the next Peyton Manning, and who could become the next Ryan Leaf? Regardless, here are 5 rookies to watch in the 2020 NFL draft!

Joe Burrow (QB, Bengals)

Starting off the list, we have the most obvious choice in Joe Burrow. As the first pick in the 2020 draft, Burrow has a laundry list of expectations attached to him, and for good reason. After having one of the greatest collegiate seasons as a quarterback of all time, many are looking at Burrow like he could be a franchise savior for the Cincinnati Bengals.

At first glance, things look good. Not only is Burrow one of the most accurate passers we’ve seen in some time, but he also performs at an elite level under intense pressure. The main drawback most discuss is his lack of arm strength. Though it looks rather minuscule next to his positive traits, it still remains something many are concerned about.

Supposedly, even the Bengals were concerned about Burrow’s weaker arm strength when watching earlier parts of his 2019 film. That said, overall he seems to be pretty competent at bigger throws. In fact, he had the second-highest completion percentage of passes 20 yards or more in the FBS. It seems as though Burrow might be a sure thing, but he will have to be watched behind a rather weak supporting cast in Cincinnati.

Jeff Okudah (CB, Lions)

We move from the number one pick to the number three pick in cornerback, Jeff Okudah. Even before the draft, it was obvious that the talented Okudah would go quite fast. The Detroit Lions clearly couldn’t resist his impressive speed and closing ability that are rare to find in a rookie talent. With his talent, he has an astounding amount of potential to become one of the elite defenders in the NFC north.

He is by all marks the best of the cornerbacks in this draft class, and only time will tell if he lives up to that high hype. Some of his big question marks remain mainly with how difficult of a situation he has in Detroit. In a division with some impressive offenses, it won’t be surprising if he has some high hurdles to jump throughout the season. In addition, there have been a lot of concerns raised about his lack of awareness at times and some questionable production.

Though he has been an extremely effective defender, he did not generate a single interception in college. Despite his flaws and difficult situation, it would be hard to imagine Okudah as anything but a high-level cornerback during his NFL career. Maybe he can finally break the cycle of mediocrity on Detroit’s defensive side.

Justin Herbert (QB, Chargers)

With the third spot on the list, we go over the 6th pick in the draft: quarterback Justin Herbert. While many would have considered Herbert a sure-fire, number one pick had he declared for the 2019 draft, Herbert’s stock lessened a bit by going back to college for another season. Despite this, Herbert still remains one of the more exciting quarterback prospects in the last few years. With his exceptional arm strength and athleticism, it’s no wonder why the Chargers see a potential franchise quarterback in him.

In addition to the power in his arm, Herbert’s accuracy has improved greatly as well. He also has a fantastic situation with the Chargers and their many realistic offensive weapons. The main warning signs for Herbert mainly lie in his ability to perform at an NFL level. Though he was impressive at many points last season in college, Herbert heavily benefited from breakdowns of coverage that simply doesn’t happen in the NFL.

He has also had difficulty making quick decisions, and that may come back to bite him on a professional stage. To get him up to speed on an NFL level offense, the Chargers may start veteran Tyrod Taylor until they feel comfortable sending Herbert out there. When he finally does arrive at some point this season, he will quickly show us whether or not he’ll end up as the elite quarterback fans think he could be.

Henry Ruggs III (WR, Raiders)

On draft night, I was just as surprised as everyone else when the Raiders took Henry Ruggs III over Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. Though analysts claimed there were better choices at wide receiver, Ruggs is still more than talented enough to prove that he’s worth the 12th pick. His major positive that shines above all else is his blistering speed. At the NFL combine, Ruggs ran the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds, one of the fastest times in NFL history.

It’s clear that the Las Vegas Raiders want a speedster to rival Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs. In addition to being fast, Ruggs posts great pass-catching ability and great size for a speed-focused wide receiver. The main cons have to do with player comparison. He just simply is not as well-rounded as Lamb or Jeudy at his position.

He seems to lack complex route running ability, and his deep catch tracking ability could be better. Even though his selection so early was a surprise, Ruggs still has an extremely high ceiling at his position. With that previously mentioned explosive speed, it’ll be interesting to see if he runs all the way to stardom or if he’ll crash and burn. Because of the gamble the Raiders took on him, Ruggs will be the wide receiver rookie to watch in the 2020 season.

Jordyn Brooks (LB, Seahawks)

We close out this list later in the first round with 27th pick, linebacker Jordyn Brooks. Though on the surface not a particularly intriguing pick, Brooks will have a lot to live up to with the Seahawks taking him over the more capable Patrick Queen. With the NFL ready Patrick Queen still on the board, it was baffling that the Seahawks would take the mixed bag of Jordyn Brooks. That said, there are still plenty of positives about him. Not only does Brooks have great strength, he also is incredibly fast and runs with intensity. He also isn’t afraid to block, excelling at physical play on defense.

As far as negatives go, there are quite a few question marks. For one, he doesn’t seem to be great in pass coverage. This wouldn’t be awful by itself, but the Seahawks already have weak pass protection from their existing linebackers. He also seems to be rather limited in the more modern style of linebacker play. It doesn’t seem as though the Seahawks will be able to get much from him outside of the box.

Lastly, not to sound like a broken record, but they should have taken Patrick Queen. Why they wouldn’t take the person widely considered to be the best inside linebacker in the draft is just beyond puzzling to me. With that said, maybe the Seahawks front office knows something we don’t. Their willingness to reach for Brooks makes him one of the most fascinating players to watch during the 2020 NFL season.

Well, what did you think of the list? Do you have rookies you’ll personally be keeping an eye on this season? Do you think my picks for the list are worth keeping an eye on? Let me know all about it in the comments section below!