No Shoe Is Too Big! – AFC Projected Most Impactful Rookies

It’s that time of the year, teams are coming down off the draft high and veterans are returning to their practice venues to begin offseason programs. There are a lot of new faces too, from new free agent pickups, coaches, coordinators and rookies.

Whether it be the new quarterback who is coming to lead his new team or the stout young edge rusher who is looking to make opposing quarterbacks run in terror, the rookies are vying to become the next great. These guys are the rookies in the AFC who should make the biggest impacts for the 2024-25 season.


AFC North

Baltimore Ravens

T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State (Round 4, Pick 130)

HT: 6’2″   WT: 200lbs

The Ravens have had injury issues in the secondary over the past couple of years. Nate Wiggins looks to man one cornerback spot but Tampa should be able to carve out a role as an outside cornerback. He could see himself starting multiple games in his rookie season if the injuries persist for Baltimore. 


Cincinnati Bengals 

Jermaine Burton, WR, Alabama (Round 3, Pick 80)

HT: 6’0″   WT: 194lbs

Tyler Boyd isn’t returning to the team and Tee Higgins could be traded by the start of the season. Burton at worst is a WR3 on this team and provides a speedier option than Boyd. He could see himself being targeted in one-on-one situations early and often. 


Cleveland Browns

Jamari Thrash, WR, Louisville (Round 5, Pick 156)

HT: 6’1″   WT: 185lbs

Deshaun Watson needed more targets and he now gets one in Jamari Thrash. Thrash gives the Browns another threat outside of Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore. His speed is also an asset and he could push for the WR3 spot as a rookie. 


Pittsburgh Steelers

Payton Wilson, LB, NC State (Round 3, Pick 98)

HT: 6’4″   WT: 238lbs

Pittsburgh needed to get better in the middle of their defense and they now have a force to pair with newcomer Patrick Queen. Queen is more of a sideline-to-sideline run defender, whereas Wilson provides a better defender of the pass. Wilson could see himself being the lead linebacker in 2024. 


AFC South

Houston Texans

Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia (Round 2, Pick 42)

HT: 6’0″   WT: 180lbs

The Texans needed to revamp their secondary to make this defense and team more complete. Lassiter will man the corner spot opposite Derek Stingley Jr. in a scheme that is very friendly to boundary defenders. Despite Jeff Okudah being on the roster, Lassiter seems like the better option to start day one. 


Indianapolis Colts 

Micah Abraham, CB, Marshall (Round 6, Pick 201)

HT: 5’11”   WT: 185lbs

Indianapolis needed to get cornerback help on this team badly. Kenny Moore III is a nickel corner and JuJu Brents is more of an outside cornerback leaving the spot opposite of him vacant. Abraham comes in as a sticky man-coverage corner who is a turnover creator. He fills a need and is on an inexpensive rookie deal. 


Jacksonville Jaguars

Deantre Prince, CB, Ole Miss (Round 5, Pick 153)

HT: 6’0″   WT: 185lbs

The Jaguars had a mass cleansing of their defensive secondary and utilized free agency and the draft to replenish it. One of the main needs is who will play the cornerback spot alongside Tyson Campbell.

The Jags signed Ronald Darby but Darby has only played a full season once in his career. Prince is a long athletic cornerback who can play inside or outside. He could see a heavier load as a second cornerback in Jacksonville. 


Tennessee Titans

Cedric Gray, LB, North Carolina (Round 4, Pick 106)

HT: 6’2″   WT: 235lbs

For a team in the first season of a rebuild, the Titans look much improved on paper. They had to address the linebacker position and Cedric Gray is one of the best all-around linebackers in his class and should grab the starting inside linebacker spot for Tennessee.

Gray is a prime candidate to be the “green dot” man, making him the leader of the defense going forward. 


AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Cole Bishop, Safety, Utah (Round 2, Pick 60)

HT: 6’2″   WT: 207lbs

After releasing both of their veteran safeties, the Bills needed to get younger effective assets on the backend. Cole Bishop has the skill to play either safety spot and be productive. Pairing him with veteran Mike Edwards will allow him to play freely, making his NFL transition smooth and this Buffalo secondary better. 


Miami Dolphins

Mohamed Kamara, Edge, Colorado State (Round 5, Pick 158)

HT: 6’1″   WT: 250lbs

Miami has two very good edge rushers on the roster in Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb. Both have had major injuries, so depth for Miami was a huge need. Mohamed Kamara was one of college football’s premier pass rushers and now brings that talent to South Beach.

Since Phillips and Chubb are coming off an injury from the 2023-24 season, Kamara could see himself playing a higher number of snaps early. His innate talent for getting to the quarterback is invaluable and could help him put Miami in the driver’s seat in their division. 


New England Patriots

Javon Baker, WR, UCF (Round 4, Pick 110)

HT: 6’1″   WT: 208lbs

The Patriots are in the middle of a complete roster reconstruction on offense. Part of that reconstruction is the receiver position and taking this team into the modern-day offense. New England needed a lead receiver and Javon Baker fits that archetype.

Baker is smooth on release with strong hands when high pointing the football. Baker could be an early favorite for the young quarterback, Drake Maye. 


New York Jets

Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky (Round 3, Pick 65)

HT: 5’11”   WT: 210lbs

When Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers is at his best, he has three outside threats to throw to. The Jets signed former Los Angeles Charger Mike Williams to pair with incumbent WR1 Garrett Wilson. Rodgers now gets a Malachi Corley to add to that group.

Corley is a yards-after-catch machine with a similar skill-set like former “A-Rod” favorite, Randall Cobb. Corley could fill a Cobb-like role for the Jets and be a highly productive piece for this offense. 


AFC West

Denver Broncos

Troy Franklin, WR, Oregon (Round 4, Pick 102)

HT: 6’3″   WT: 187lbs

Denver is being remade in the image of Sean Payton. Payton got his signal caller in the first round in Bo Nix, and trying to make his transition to the league easy. One way to do that is getting your young quarterback’s favorite college target.

Troy Franklin is very talented, boasting high top-end speed and solid route running. With the already tight-knit chemistry that he and Nix have, he should have a stellar rookie campaign.


Kansas City Chiefs

Kamal Hadden, CB, Tennessee (Round 6, Pick 211)

HT: 6’5″   WT: 197lbs

Kansas City is on the road to a third championship, they rode the strength of their defense a year ago, and they had to address some needs in the draft. L’Jarius Sneed was traded to Tennessee, leaving a vacancy next to All-Pro cornerback Trent McDuffie.

Kamal Hadden is a long cornerback with an aggressive approach when the ball is in the air. He could easily play himself into a CB2 role and be a part of the run to that third Lombardi Trophy. 


Las Vegas Raiders

Delmar Glaze, OL, Maryland (Round 3, Pick 77)

HT: 6’5″   WT: 328lbs

The Raiders had to address the offensive line this offseason. The tackle position is solid but the guard spots needed some bolstering. With Jackson Powers-Johnson manning one guard spot, there could be competition for the other.

Delmar Glaze has the strength and footwork to be a starting interior lineman in the NFL. Glaze is talented enough to beat out incumbent starter Dylan Parham and would help better an improved offense with his pass and run blocking in Las Vegas. 


Los Angeles Chargers

Kimani Vidal, HB, Troy (Round 6, Pick 181)

HT: 5’8″   WT: 215lbs

There were many holes that needed filling for the Chargers and the running back position was one of the most glaring. The Chargers no longer have Austin Ekeler and free agent pickup J.K. Dobbins is coming off another injury.

Sixth-round pick Kimani Vidal will come in as the RB2 early on but his skills-set fits what Jim Harbaugh likes to do on offense. Vidal could see a high volume of carries in his rookie year leading to a successful campaign. 

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