Predicting The Best Rookie At Every Position

LB: Leo Chenal, Kansas City Chiefs

Leo Chenal does one thing better than just about anyone in this class, and that’s hit you. Really hard. Over and over again. And it’s awesome. He’s such a simple prospect to evaluate because I know exactly what I’m looking for. Chenal is what we in the business call an “absolute thumper” and I love what he’s going to do for this Kansas City Chiefs defense. The Chiefs took Chenal not as a chess piece or anything like that, but almost as an enforcer in hockey. His presence makes you not want to run up the middle, and it funnels everything down to their safeties, and that’s if Chenal doesn’t get you first.

I think Chenal’s presence on the Chiefs’ front seven is going to be felt basically immediately. His particular skillset changes the way that offenses attack you, as he’s such a strong tackler and pure hitter that it’s no use running between the tackles most of the time. Instead, you have to find so many other ways to beat a very talented team, without a bread-and-butter ground game. It’s scary stuff, and I totally see how he fits into KC’s scheme. I think this is a wonderful fit, and his play will show that.

CB: Andrew Booth, Minnesota Vikings

I have to be honest, I didn’t “get” Andrew Booth at first, but as I’ve seen him play more and more at the NFL level, I totally understand it now. Booth at Clemson was more of a height-weight-speed guy but I didn’t find his technique to be very good, which is something I value in cornerbacks. Since he’s started in the NFL, it feels as though he’s cleaned up a lot of his weird mental and technical errors that dictated a lot of his play with the Tigers.

The Vikings’ defensive scheme is perfect for Booth, as it’s going to let him drape over a lot of smaller receivers and let the others do the work. Considering he’s a rookie, the easier his assignments can be, the more he’ll play. Working with a veteran like Patrick Peterson can also do wonders for a rookie’s mental game, and I think we’ll see Booth improve far more than any of the other rookie cornerbacks in his first year. It was tough not to put Sauce Gardner here, but Sauce is going to have to do so much more. That simply doesn’t bode well for any rookie.

S: Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens

Much like Jordan Davis at the defensive tackle spot, Notre Dame product Kyle Hamilton is simply a freak of nature. He excels by doing things that, at his size, should not be possible. Hamilton is a linebacker with the capabilities to be a sideline-to-sideline safety. His play in the box for the Fighting Irish was indicative of just how much his size lets you do as a defensive coordinator, because he’s able to play almost anywhere. You can have him rushing the passer, or allow him to cover a speedy receiver in the open field, and he would probably excel at both.

This is such a Ravens pick, it’s not even funny. Baltimore let perhaps the draft’s best player, and my No. 1 overall prospect, just drop right to them, and he’s a perfect scheme fit. Baltimore’s defense is the perfect place to deploy Hamilton’s wide-ranging skillset. The name of their game is deception and change on defense, and never allowing the offense to feel comfortable. Having “Hammy” constantly breathing down your neck and blowing up your receivers is going to make you anything but comfy. His ability to mix things up every single play, and consistently excel at helping the defense, is something to behold.


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