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The NFL Draft is over, and there are plenty of rookies that are looking to make a significant impact for the teams that drafted them. There is plenty of talent in this year's unusually deep draft. So who will make the biggest contribution year? Here are six players, three from each side of the ball, who should top the list in 2018.
Saquon Barkley Is The Most Talented Player In Class Of 2018
Topping this list is Saquon Barkley, who was taken with the 2nd overall pick by the New York Giants. The Giants have had an anemic running game for the last few years, and Barkley represents a potential massive upgrade. The talented running back ran for 3843 yards with 43 touchdowns in three seasons at Penn State. He also hauled in 102 passes for 1195 yards and eight more TDs. He is a big play threat who can score from anywhere on the field and will be toting the ball behind an offensive line that looks very improved this year. The Giants averaged just 15.4 ppg last year but should be able to top 20 ppg with the addition of Barkley.
The Arizona Cardinals traded up to get UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen and he should immediately help this team that lost Carson Palmer to retirement in the offseason. The Cardinals ranked 25th in scoring last year and 15th in passing but should be much improved with the addition of Rosen, and the return of a healthy David Johnson at running back. It also won't hurt that Rosen has a future Hall of Famer in Larry Fitzgerald to play catch with. The former UCLA signal caller started just 30 games in college, but he threw 59 TDs and had a rating of 140.1 in those games. Look for the Cards to re-join the fight for the Division title.
The New York Jets have been a horrible offensive team since Joe Namath. They have finished 24th or worse in scoring in five of their last six seasons, but this season may be the start of something special. Sam Darnold was taken by the Jets with the 3rd overall pick, and after tossing the pigskin around the last two years at USC, he should be the one signal caller that is well-suited for the bright lights and pressure of New York. Darnold threw for 7229 yards on 64.9% passing with 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions during his two seasons as a Trojan, while posting a QBR of 153.7. The Jets’ offense still needs some help, but with Darnold at the helm, they could potentially improve all the way to mediocre.
Bradley Chubb Is Set To Give NFL Quarterbacks Nightmares
Let’s move to the other side of the ball and take a look at outside linebacker Bradley Chubb. After the Browns surprisingly passed, he was snatched up by the Denver Broncos with the 5th overall pick. Chubb terrorized opposing quarterbacks the last three years at North Carolina State as he racked up 25 sacks and 54.5 tackles for loss over that stretch. He was one of the most feared pass rushers in college and is now ready to help a Denver team that recorded just 33 sacks a season ago, which ranked 22nd in the league. Chubb will team up with Vonn Miller to give opposing signal callers nightmares.
Let's head to sunny Socal and pay a visit to the Los Angeles Chargers. There we find safety Derwin James from Florida State. Many feel the 17th overall pick could be the steal of the draft as many draft pundits had him projected in the top five. The Chargers already had one of the best pass defenses in the league as they finished 3rd last year and now with the addition of James, they could have the best. He had just two INTs last year but recorded 84 tackles, and 11 passes defended. He added 5.5 tackles for loss last year and 9.5 back in 2015, which makes him a very versatile player. He just may have a monster year with the Bolts.
Potential game-changer Roquan Smith was taken by the Chicago Bears with the 8th overall selection. The former Georgia linebacker won the Butkus award last year (fitting that he ends up in Chicago) and he was 10th in the Heisman voting. Last year for the Bulldogs Smith compiled 137 tackles, including 6.5 sacks and 14 for loss. He's ready to bring his talents to the NFL where he will likely terrorize the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and Matthew Stafford in the NFC North. The Bears finished 9th in the league in points allowed last year and should be a top 10 unit once again.
There you have it. Three players from offense and three from the defensive side that should have the biggest impacts in the league this year. Next up, we'll change gears and take a look at some of the best undrafted free agents on both sides of the ball.