Top 5 Rookies Entering NFL Wildcard Weekend |Time To Take The Diapers Off For Ja’Marr Chase, Micah Parsons And Creed Humphrey

aseImage Credit: Twitter screen shot

The NFL postseason is here and we have seen some historical performances by rookies on both sides of the ball.

The performance of these five players will have a tremendous impact on the playoff dates of their respective teams. Time to take the diapers off and get on with the grown man mission.

Micah Parsons – Dallas Cowboys (Edge/ILB/Swiss Army Knife)

The Cowboys “FROSH” has flashed generational talent at times. He returns after missing the season finale due to COVID-19 protocols. Parsons is fresh off being named First-Team All-Pro.

The Defensive Rookie of the Year front runner and Defensive Player of the Year candidate will get his first taste of playoff football.

The Cowboys will need him at 100 percent against a physical and gritty Niners team. This matchup rehashes those epic battles the two storied franchises have had in the playoffs since “The Catch” in 1981.

Now Parsons gets to etch his name in the history of classic battles between these five-time Super Bowl winning franchises.

Season Stats: 84 tackles, 13 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles and 3 passes defensed

Ja’Marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals (WR)

The Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite will take the field in his first playoff game against a porous Raiders secondary. He and his receiving mates (Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd) should feast if the offensive line can hold up in protection and allow Joe Burrow time to exploit the mismatches.

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Last time we saw Chase, he went for 266 yards and three touchdowns in the Bengals’ division-clinching win over the Chiefs. Expect a huge day on Saturday in the “Nnati” from Chase.

Season Stats: 81 receptions, 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns

Mac Jones – New England Patriots (QB)

Jones has been solid this season, with there being nothing in particular that he does that really jumps off the screen as far as his physical attributes. But such was the case early on in Tom Brady’s career. Brady gradually developed as a passer and proceeded to dominate in Foxboro for 20 years.

Not saying Jones is ever going to be that legendary, but his intangibles — moxie, bravado and IQ — are a lot like those of one Thomas Edward Brady.

Jones has confidence and plays within the system. Bill Belichick loves his cerebral approach and how he takes care of the football.

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Last time the Patriots traveled to windy and cold Buffalo, the wind was hellacious and it prompted “Belly” to have Jones attempt just three passes all game.

The Pats won the game, but the Bills returned the favor a few weeks later by stopping the run and daring Jones to beat them. And he couldn’t. He’ll need to display a clutch gene under pressure to get out of “Bills Mafia” territory with a win.

Season Stats: 352/521 for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions

Creed Humphrey – Kansas City Chiefs (Center)

Gotta show some love to the best center in the NFL.

Humphrey has anchored an improved Kansas City Chiefs offensive line. He came in and was immediately charged with keeping Patrick Mahomes upright and his pocket clean.

He’s done just that, as the Chiefs pass block win rate has been one of the highest in the league all season. Their run block win rate struggled early in the season, but has improved immensely. That’s all a product of “Humph.”

KC will need his best effort with All-Pros TJ Watt and Cameron Hayward leading a Steelers defense that will be out for revenge after being embarrassed at Arrowhead Stadium three weeks ago.

5. Najee Harris – Pittsburgh Steelers (RB)

If the Steelers are to have any hope heading into KC, they’ll need a huge effort from rookie running back Najee Harris.

Harris’ toting the mail effectively will shorten the game and limit the possessions by Patrick Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs offense. Pittsburgh’s offensive line struggled to consistently open holes for the former Alabama star, but he still ran for 1,200 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also showed his dual-threat ability as a receiver with 74 receptions for 467 yards and three more touchdowns.

With Big Ben incapable of carrying the offense, Harris is the key ingredient to an upset at raucous Arrowhead Stadium.

Honorable Mention:

DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles (WR)

The Eagles are fighting an uphill battle having to travel to Tampa and face the defending Super Bowl champions. “Smitty” should have a solid day but it won’t be enough.

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Elijah Mitchell – San Francisco 49ers (RB)

Mitchell will need to carry the rock and be productive to keep the Niners out of third and long situations against the dominant Cowboys pass rush and ball-hawking secondary led by double-digit pick guy Trevon Diggs. If Mitchell gets in a zone, that could spell trouble for “We Them Boyz.”

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JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.