There is not a single draft pick who doesn’t face enormous pressure as a rookie, but there’s no denying that some are more scrutinized than others. Much of the time, those under the most strenuous pressure are first- and second-round picks, but even that doesn’t narrow down the list completely.
Some rookies enter the league with expectations of becoming a superstar, while others are tasked with altering the trajectory of an organization entirely. And following the 2019 NFL Draft, there were more than a handful of those.
Here is a look at five rookies facing the most pressure in 2019.
5. Greg Little, OT, Carolina Panthers
It’s a critical year in Carolina as new-ish owner David Tepper works to determine who he wants in place moving forward. Needless to say, it will be up to head coach Ron Rivera to stop the “every other year” success that has plagued the organization since their inception, and he’ll attempt to do that on the back of quarterback Cam Newton. But as the saying goes, expectations trickle downhill, and as a result, they will subsequently fall on the shoulders of second-round pick Greg Little. Fair or unfair, the offensive tackle will be considered a key piece along the team’s offensive line. He will be heavily factored in when it comes to Newton’s success and the team’s overall success. Good luck, rookie.
4. Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers haven’t exactly been lacking offensively in recent years, and with Bruce Arians taking over in 2019, scoring is likely to become the least of their concerns. The same optimism has not been shared on defense however, as a lack of star power and leadership has plagued Tampa Bay. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the team used six of their eight picks on defenders, including a first-round pick spent on Devin White. As a rookie first rounder, White is not only expected to come in a play a major role, but to step into a leadership role. He is now the team’s focal point defensively and will be expected to play like a veteran on the field and lead like one off the field.
3. Clelin Ferrell, DE, Oakland Raiders
First-round picks are automatically under tremendous amount of pressure. However, when it comes to Clelin Ferrell, that’s compounded because the Raiders took him so much earlier (No. 4) than anyone expected him to go. Mind you, that’s not Ferrell’s fault, but the business side of the NFL will dictate the level of pressure based on draft position, so Ferrell is going to have to get after it in 2019. He’s also going to have to out-perform Montez Sweat, Josh Allen and Brian Burns — all of whom were widely considered more talented players entering the draft — while trying to replace the void left by a Khalil Mack, whom Oakland traded to the Chicago Bears last September.
2. Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers
As the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, it’s easy to pinpoint Bosa as one of the league’s rookies facing the most pressure this season — Captain Obvious agrees. However, more than just being faced with the pressure to help lead the 49ers’ defense and improve their pass rush, Bosa will be forced to win over the entire city of San Francisco. Due to his history of questionable tweets, the people of San Francisco entered a little dismayed with their newest superstar rookie. Needless to say, Bosa will not only have to perform well on the field, but also to avoid any potential controversy or isolation off of it.
1. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Under normal circumstances, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft enters the league with enormous expectations and the pressure of being a franchise player. But for Kyler Murray, these aren’t normal circumstances. On top of going No. 1, he has the added pressure of knowing that his presence led to the trade of quarterback Josh Rosen, on whom the team spent first-round pick a year earlier. Needless to say, no rookie in this draft class or in recent draft classes has faced more of an uphill battle than Murray does. He has to immediately step in and shine, out-perform Rosen along the way, and prove the Cardinals correct in their gamble.