A number of young players figure to break out this postseason
Playoff teams in the NFL are often led by veteran stars, who rely on their experience to help their squads separate themselves from the also-rans. That doesn’t mean young players can’t carry a heavy load as well. In fact, here are eight rookies who figure to make a significant impact in the upcoming postseason.
Nick Bosa, Defensive End, San Francisco 49ers: The second overall pick in this year’s draft has been as good as advertised. In 11 games he already has eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss. The importance of the disruption he provides rushing off the edge can’t be overstated and has been a major reason San Francisco is second in the league with 163 points allowed. His ability to make big plays could change the dynamic of a playoff game and help propel his team on a deep run towards the Super Bowl.
Josh Jacobs, Running Back, Oakland Raiders: Although the Raiders currently sit just outside of the playoffs, they still have a great chance to make the postseason. If they do, perhaps their most important player will be their first-year back from Alabama. He has already ripped off 957 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Add in his 18 receptions, which has proved he is a threat in all facets of the game. He also already has four 100-yeard games and three games with multiple touchdowns, which highlights his ability to take over.
Devin Bush Jr., Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers: The 10th pick in the 2019 draft has played like a veteran from day one, acting as a ball hawk on team that is still fighting for a playoff spot. Although his snaps played have been a little down the past three games, he still has 79 total tackles, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Players like Bush, who play all over the field, tend to have a proclivity for big plays, which are a must for any contender.
Ed Oliver, Defensive Line, Buffalo Bills: He took a while to heat up, but the ninth pick in this year’s draft is coming on like gangbusters down the stretch. He has four sacks in his past three games and has totals of 28 tackles and five sacks while emerging as a key cog in a dominant Buffalo defense. Much like Bosa, his endless motor and ability to get to the quarterback is a huge x-factor in any playoff matchup.
Erik McCoy, Center, New Orleans Saints: The massive 314- pound lineman has done a fantastic job keeping veteran quarterback Drew Brees upright and leading his team towards the postseason. While he has been called for eight penalties, he has yet to give up a sack and played all but a two snaps this season. He has graded out as above average and will help the Saints score points against any team they might face this postseason.
DK Metcalf, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks: Despite being closer in size to a tight end than a receiver (6’4” and 229 lbs), Metcalf has been a steady deep threat all season, but has also struggled with dropped passes. He has 38 catches for 630 yards and six scores, with an impressive 16.6 yards per reception. He has at least one catch going for at least 25 yards in eight of his 12 games; a representation of his ability to break open a close playoff game with just one throw. The more he learns ball security, the more he will be trusted in tight spots. Look out for him to come up big this postseason.
Marquise Brown, Wide Receiver, Baltimore Ravens: Starting with 147 receiving yards and two scores in his very first game, “Hollywood” has become a favorite target of quarterback and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson. In nine games, Brown has hauled in 35 passes for 519 yards, six touchdowns and nearly 15 yards per grab. Not only can he stretch the field, but he is also a precise route runner who can carve up a defense. The playoffs would be the perfect opportunity for him to introduce himself on a national stage.
Chase Winovich, Defensive End, New England Patriots: The only part-time player on this list, the pass rusher with the flowing long blond hair has taken up the tradition legends with similar locks like Kevin Greene and Clay Matthews. Winovich has only been on the field for 29% of defensive snaps but has used his limited playing time to announce himself as an impact playmaker. With 4.5 sacks and eight quarterback hits, he has a knack for getting in the backfield. Don’t be surprised to see him make a big play or two in the playoffs.