Younger players are often secret weapons for teams on offense and defense. Unlikely to draw attention from opposing coordinators, these guys make a big difference for their teams before they become full-blown stars at the NFL level.
Offense: Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Oakland selected Jacobs 24 th overall in this year’s draft, after a star turn in Alabama’s run-first offense. Thus far he’s rewarded the Raiders for their trust, ranking fourth in the league in rushing yards (184) and tied for second in rushing TDs (2). He’s averaging a whopping 5.3 yards per carry and showing great resilience, earning almost all of those yards after contact. Barring a deep playoff run from Kyler Murray or Daniel Jones, you’re probably looking at the offensive rookie of the year right here.
Defense: Chase Winovich, DE, New England Patriots
In such a deep and talented defensive draft, there was bound to be an impact player that fell to a team. Chase Winovich was on the board when New England drafted in the third round. He is not a third-round talent. Despite all the big-name pass rushers that went earlier in the draft, Winovich leads all rookies in sacks through two games (1.5) and has shown exceptional motor and been exceptionally disruptive off the edge. He’s the type of pass rusher that will thrive in Bill Belichick’s ever evolving defense.