NFL rookies who will make the biggest impact in 2021

NFL rookies who will make the biggest impact in 2021

Impactful NFL rookies can be difference makers for teams, as witnessed in 2020 when Bucs rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. helped the team to a Super Bowl. These 25 rookies could make a big impact in 2021.

 
1 of 25

Tutu Atwell, WR, Rams

Tutu Atwell, WR, Rams
Winslow Townson / USA Today Sports Images

The Rams allowed Josh Reynolds to walk in free agency, and Atwell could step in as the team's No. 3 wide receiver in his rookie season. The speedster out of Louisville also has a chance to contribute in special teams.

 
2 of 25

Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens

Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens
Mitch Stringer / USA Today Sports Images

The Ravens desperately need wideout help, and found it with Bateman in the first round. He will battle Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins for snaps, potentially giving Lamar Jackson a formidable set of weapons.

 
3 of 25

Michael Carter, RB, Jets

Michael Carter, RB, Jets
Chris Pedota / USA Today Sports Images

The Jets waited until the fourth round to select Carter, but he could still start for the team in Week 1. He had back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons at North Carolina and enters a relatively thin backfield.

 
4 of 25

Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Bengals

Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Bengals
Sam Greene / USA Today Sports Images

Chase opted out of the 2020 season, and is set to effectively replace A.J. Green at wideout for Cincinnati. A superstar at LSU, he already has experience catching passes from Joe Burrow, which could make the NFL transition easier.

 
5 of 25

Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars

Travis Etienne, RB, Jaguars
Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports Images

Etienne was a surprise pick by Jacksonville after James Robinson's rookie breakout season last year. The team is expected to use the speedy back as a wideout, as well as at running back, as they look to manufacture offense.

 
6 of 25

Caleb Farley, CB, Titans

Caleb Farley, CB, Titans
Brett Davis / USA Today Sports Images

Tennessee's secondary was in shambles last year, and they desperately needed help this offseason. They're counting on Farley to provide help and shutdown elite receivers immediately.

 
7 of 25

Justin Fields, QB, Bears

Justin Fields, QB, Bears
Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today Sports Images

Fields fell to the Bears with the 11th overall pick after a great career at Ohio State. While head coach Matt Nagy has insisted Andy Dalton is the Week 1 starter, it would be a shock to many if Fields isn't starting to begin the year.

 
8 of 25

RIchie Grant, S, Falcons

RIchie Grant, S, Falcons
Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images

The secondary has been one of Atlanta's many defensive issues recently, and they let long-time safety Keanu Neal go elsewhere in the offseason. Grant could add a spark after being selected in the second round out of UCF.

 
9 of 25

Najee Harris, RB, Steelers

Najee Harris, RB, Steelers
Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports Images

The Steelers have drafted several running backs recently, but didn't spend first round capital until taking Harris. The former Alabama star is set to step in immediately as the starter.

 
10 of 25

Jaycee Horn, CB, Panthers

Jaycee Horn, CB, Panthers
Jim Dedmon / USA Today Sports Images

The speedy Horn saw his draft stock skyrocket due to his measurables, and he makes a young, athletic defense even better. The Panthers have high hopes for him as an immediate starter.

 
11 of 25

Mac Jones, QB, Patriots

Mac Jones, QB, Patriots
Paul Rutherford / USA Today Sports Images

Jones fell to the Patriots in the first round of the draft, but has already impressed in OTAs. With Cam Newton suffering a minor injury already, Jones has an opportunity to step in as the starter sooner than later.

 
12 of 25

Trey Lance, QB, 49ers

Trey Lance, QB, 49ers
D. Ross Cameron / USA Today Sports Images

Lance is seen as a long-term project behind Jimmy Garoppolo, but the future could be soon if the oft-injured Garoppolo doesn't rebound early in the year. Kyle Shanahan seemed enamored with Lance's athletic ability at the draft.

 
13 of 25

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jaguars
Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports Images

Lawrence is considered one of the best quarterback prospects in years, and had the college production at Clemson to back it up. There could be growing pains, especially on a bad Jaguars team, but Lawrence is expected to start in Week 1.

 
14 of 25

Terrace Marshall, WR, Panthers

Terrace Marshall, WR, Panthers
Jay Biggerstaff / USA Today Sports Images

The Panthers lost star wideout Curtis Samuel in the offseason, but are hoping Marshall can lighten the blow. The rookie out of LSU put up big numbers in college but also has big shoes to fill.

 
15 of 25

Elijah Moore, WR, Jets

Elijah Moore, WR, Jets
Chris Pedota / USA Today Sports Images

Moore is a speedy wideout how joins a revamped wide receiver corps that also added Corey Davis in the offseason. There will likely be hiccups, especially with fellow rookie Zach Wilson at quarterback, but Moore should get his fair share of opportunities on the young Jets.

 
16 of 25

Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys

Micah Parsons, LB, Cowboys
Tim Heitman / USA Today Sports Images

The Cowboys desperately needed defensive help after an embarrassing 2020 season, and Parsons is set to provide him. He adds major insurance if Leighton Vander Esch continues to have injury issues.

 
17 of 25

Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons

Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons
Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images

Pitts is considered a generational prospect at tight end, and is set for a big role in Atlanta after the team traded Julio Jones. He could effectively be Matt Ryan's No. 2 receiver immediately behind Calvin Ridley.

 
18 of 25

Trey Sermon, RB, 49ers

Trey Sermon, RB, 49ers
Kyle Robertson / USA Today Sports Images

Kyle Shanahan has been an excellent developer of running backs, which should open eyes for Sermon. The third-round pick doesn't have many proven players ahead of him as he tries to gain playing time.

 
19 of 25

DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles

DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles
Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images

Smith was a record-breaking wideout at Alabama, and could immediately be Philadelphia's No. 1 receiving option. The fact that he has experience catching passes from Jalen Hurts will only help.

 
20 of 25

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Patriots

Rhamondre Stevenson, RB, Patriots
Path Rutherford / USA Today Sports Images

Stevenson joins a crowded running back room and is unlikely to ever be a bell cow back, but the Oklahoma alum is a bruiser who could see short-yardage work immediately.

 
21 of 25

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Broncos

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Broncos
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images

Surtain looked like an NFL star in the making while at Alabama, and should immediately step into an impressive secondary with Denver this season. The Broncos defense won't be easy to pass on in 2021.

 
22 of 25

Kadarius Toney, WR, Giants

Kadarius Toney, WR, Giants
Amy Newman / USA Today Sports Images

Toney joins a very talented wide receiver group in New York, and is unlikely to accumulate big receiving numbers immediately. However, he's a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and the Giants are likely to find ways to get their first-round pick the ball.

 
23 of 25

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Dolphins

Jaylen Waddle, WR, Dolphins
Sam Navarro / USA Today Sports Images

The speedy Waddle will need to fight for playing time with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller ahead of him, but he has plenty of deep speed and experience playing with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. If he proves healthy after last year's ankle injury, he has a huge rookie ceiling.

 
24 of 25

Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos

Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos
Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports Images

Williams is set to join a running back committee with Melvin Gordon after a strong career at North Carolina. He has a chance to unseat Gordon as the starter if he impresses early.

 
25 of 25

Zach Wilson, QB, Jets

Zach Wilson, QB, Jets
New York Jets / USA Today Sports Images

Wilson will almost certainly start for the Jets in Week 1, giving fans hope after Sam Darnold failed to develop in New York. The organization has added more talent around him to make for an exciting first season.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.

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