Top 3 NFL Week 1 Rookie Performances

There were some NFL rookies who showed out in their first NFL game, putting smiles on the faces of fans, coaches and the executives who evaluated and selected them.

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There were some NFL rookies who showed out in their first NFL game, putting smiles on the faces of fans, coaches and the executives who evaluated and selected them. 

Here are the Top 3 rookie performances of Week 1 

1. Sam Darnold (NY Jets)

Top props go to the NFLs latest young gun rookie QB to show a veterans flair behind center.  The Jets moved up in the draft to snag Sam Darnold and immediately put the franchise in his hands, trading away veteran QB Teddy Bridgewater who had a lit preseason. 


Darnold was facing more pressure than any rookie in the league as the only first-year quarterback to start a season opener in 2018 and the youngest to do so in NFL history, but nothing seemed to faze the pigskin slinger from USC. Not the New York hype and pressure. Not the Sunday night football national stage. Not even the pick-six to start his career, because the game ended with a smile as he threw two TD passes, showed poise, grit and a strong arm in leading the Jets to a 48-17 win.

New York Jets on Twitter

Career TD pass No. 1 #NYJvsDET https://t.co/SiOW7qG1V4

We’ll see how he does in Week 2 with raised expectations and a legion of Gang Green fans that have already anointed him the next Broadway Joe. 

2. Denzel Ward (Cleveland Browns) 

With all of the hype and coverage surrounding this years five potential franchise quarterbacks, most fans looked past Denzel Ward, the 5-foot-10 cornerback from Ohio State who Cleveland picked at No. 4. 


He certainly got outshined by No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield who Cleveland selected with the first pick. Thus, the expression, thats why we play the game applies in this case. The ball-hawking defensive back didnt waste any time introducing himself to the NFL and digging in the crates for six tackles and two picks of future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger.  Mayfield is riding the pine behind Tyrod Taylor. A decade from now, we could be talking about Ward for the Hall of Fame. 

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Denzel Ward made a huge impact in his first NFL regular season game. See how every first round pick graded this week ($) https://t.co/xiYtW9BBDu

3. Bradley Chubb (Denver Broncos)

Adding N.C. States Bradley Chubb with the No.5 pick not only improved Denvers already formidable defense, but it’s made life even easier for linebacker Von Miller. Chubb is a problem. In addition to the seven total pressures and 1 sack,  the attention Chubb commanded allowed on Sunday allowed Miller to record his best stat line since he was Super Bowl 50 MVP in 2015. 

Vic Lombardi on Twitter

Bradley Chubb @astronaut in his astronaut jacket. https://t.co/B3yUiVUt7w

The six-time Pro Bowler had six tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two quarterback hurries for a Denver defense that suffocated and suppressed the brilliance of Cam Newton. Miller harassed Seattle QB Russell Wilson in the same menacing manner on Sunday, recording three sacks and two forced fumbles in a 27-24 Denver victory. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The Deputy Editor and Senior Writer is in his 23rd year of covering sports and culture professionally. He began working in major newspapers in 1995 and has covered a cornucopia of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, magazines and national TV.

Gamble has covered World Series, Super Bowls, NBA and MLB All-Star Games, Final Fours, World Cup, NASCAR events and done hundreds of exclusive interviews over the years. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.