Every team expects a lot out of their top picks in the NFL draft, but they won’t be the only rookies who contribute in Year 1. There will be first-year players who emerge as valuable starters or key role players at some point this season.
It’s just difficult to predict which rookies will be the ones to step up and surprise both fans and analysts.
The NFL Wire network went team by team and selected one rookie who could be a pleasant surprise in 2022, highlighting players on an upward trajectory.
Patriots: CB Jack Jones
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The Patriots depth chart prevents basically every rookie not named Cole Strange from seeing the field. New England may lack top tier talent, but its roster is deep. So that’s why this one is a tough call. But let’s go with cornerback Jack Jones, a fourth-round pick. Based on talent alone, the Patriots might have picked him even higher, but he dealt with academic and legal issues in college, which impacted his draft stock. Considering New England has a major need for playable cornerbacks, I’ll be that Jones ascends the depth chart in the coming months. – Henry McKenna, Patriots Wire
Bills: WR Khalil Shakir
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Shakir might actually be in a spot similar to where Davis had been in during his first two seasons. However, Shakir can do more than Davis. He’ll get snaps out wide as a receiver, but will also feature in Buffalo’s backfield carrying the ball on jet sweeps and other plays. Plus, he could be in line to return kicks for the Bills. Because of everything he brings to the table, Shakir could pop up in a big way on certain game days in 2022. – Nick Wojton, Bills Wire
Jets: TE Jeremy Ruckert
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The Jets only made seven picks in the 2022 draft, four of which came in the top-36 and all of them being within the first four rounds. So it’s hard to find a rookie who could truly surprise this season. Ruckert was a third-rounder and though the Jets added C.J….