National Football Authority

First-year NFL players typically face a steep learning curve. Some, though, are statistical anomalies. Let’s celebrate the select few who stood out above everyone else.

Here are our five most impressive rookies from the 2020 NFL season.

5. Josh Allen, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Josh Allen’s rookie campaign went far too much under the radar. You can blame Nick Bosa. A fellow defensive end in his rookie season playing for a bigger market was always going to be a recipe for Allen to get overshadowed.

No matter, though. Allen made his presence felt. His ball pressure is already among the best on the defensive line—not just for rookies, but in the entire league. He turned in 10.5 sacks, 22 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for a loss.

Keep your eye on him long term. He’s going to contend for Defensive Player of the Year one day. Probably.

4. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Some people thought the Arizona Cardinals gave up on Josh Rosen too early. They were wrong. He flamed out with the Miami Dolphins.

Even if he didn’t, doubters still would’ve been wrong, because rookie quarterback Kyler Murray is, already, clearly better.

Murray finished his inaugural year with 20 passing touchdowns on an impressive 64.4 completion percentage. He proved that he could pick up yardage on the ground with his legs, and concerns about his ability to protect the ball ended up being shortsighted. He closed the season with a 2.2 interception rate, which is a very good mark for someone so new.

3. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
The last Tennessee Titans player to rack up 1,000 or more receiving yards in a single season was Delanie Walker…in 2015.

That is, until A.J. Brown came along.

After being drafted at No. 51 overall, the rookie established himself as a viable No. 1 pass-catching option. That’s no small feat in ideal circumstances, but it’s even more impressive knowing how inconsistent the Titans’ quarterback play was this year.

2. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Name all of the running in the AFC better than rookie Josh Jacobs. It won’t take long. There might be five.

Emphasis on might be.

A shoulder injury ended up limited him a little bit, but it doesn’t matter. He was a big part of why the Oakland Raiders remained in playoff contention for so damn long.

1. Nick Bosa, DE, San Francisco 49ers

Bosa played at a historic pace for the first half of the 2019 NFL season, amassing sacks seemingly at will. He slowed down a bit over the second half, but he was still among the most impactful players at his position overall.

That’s not normal—in a good way. And he, like fellow rookie defensive end Josh Allen, figures to be among the most impactful players on the less glamorous side of the ball for years to come.

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