Predicting The Top 10 Most Impactful NFL Rookies For 2022

John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting The Top 10 Most Impactful NFL Rookies For 2022

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Predicting The Top 10 Most Impactful NFL Rookies For 2022

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John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

With a new NFL season, comes new players on each team after the NFL Draft. Heading into the draft each team had positions they needed to upgrade with the expectation that these rookies would do so. TWSN NFL analysts Marissa Myers and Matt Levine highlight five rookies from both the AFC and NFC that will have the largest impact in their first season:

AFC (Marissa):

-Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

With Davis Mills heading into his second season, and first full season as the starter, the Houston Texans need a better run game to help Mills out. For the last two seasons, the Texans have had a rushing offense ranked inside the bottom two. Dameon Pierce will be able to immediately help the Texans’ rushing game. With veterans Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead also in the running back room, Pierce should emerge as the top back early on in Pep Hamilton’s run-heavy scheme. Over his four years with the Florida Gators, Pierce finished with 1,806 rushing yards for 23 touchdowns while also hauling in 45 receptions for 422 yards and five touchdowns. The physical nature Pierce runs with will help with keeping the Texans’ offensive drives alive. 

-Zion Johnson, Los Angeles Chargers 

The right side of the Los Angeles Chargers offensive line needed major help. With what Zion Johnson brings to the team he will do exactly that. Last season at Boston College, Johnson only allowed one sack and three hurries. He deals with double teams extremely well which will be essential in a division where he will be tasked with facing the defensive likes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, and Denver Broncos. He sustains blocks until the whistle and anchors himself well to keep his quarterback upright. On top of that his ability to create running lanes will be a positive for Austin Ekeler. 

-Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs 

With Tyreek Hill and Byron Pringle no longer with the team, the Kansas City Chiefs had a need at the wide receiver position. So, they went on to draft Skyy Moore in the second round of the draft. In 2021 at Western Michigan Moore finished the season with 1,292 yards for 10 touchdowns and led the FBS in missed tackles forced with 26. His ability to create yards after the catch is key as it allows Moore to line up outside or in the slot and be productive in each. At 5’10, 195 lbs, he has an extremely large catch radius which allows him to haul in catches that are off target. Patrick Mahomes will be able to rely on Moore early and often and the time they spent together practicing in the offseason helps even more. Moore will make plenty of highlight reel catches as he plays an important role on the Chiefs’ offense. 

-Kaiir Elam, Buffalo Bills 

While Tre’Davious White is expected back early in the season off of his ACL injury, the Bills still needed a reliable cornerback opposite of him. With Levi Wallace signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bills traded up a spot in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft to select Kaiir Elam. Playing as a true freshman in college for the Florida Gators, Elam knows how to make plays on the field early. Elam would go on to round out his college career with 53 solo tackles, five interceptions, and 20 deflected passes. He has great length that he uses well in both press-man and zone coverages. His length combined with his willingness to help stop the run as well are two main things the Bills look for in cornerbacks. The Bills’ defense allowed the lowest completion percentage in the NFL of 56% and had the third most interceptions with 19. With Elam now on the Bills’ defense, this production should increase especially with White returning. 

-Ahmad Gardner, New York Jets

It has been a while since the New York Jets had a lockdown caliber cornerback on defense. Speaking of defense, in Robert Saleh’s first year as the head coach, his defense allowed the seventh most completions with 401 for the third most passing yards of 4,409. They also only came away with seven interceptions and only had 61 defected passes. For a defensive mind like Saleh, that does not live up to par with the defenses he helped lead for the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets need better play out of their cornerbacks so getting one of the best cornerbacks from the 2022 NFL Draft certainly helps. In 2021, Ahmad Gardner only allowed 13 catches for 117 yards and no touchdowns. His play recognition, length, and competitiveness that he plays with should make an instant impact for the Jets on defense. 

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