This NFL season has shown once again that perhaps more than ever, rookies can make huge impact from Day 1.
In this Sunday’s conference championship games, that’s sure to be proven true yet again. Perhaps a critical play by a first-year star could help lead their team to the Super Bowl.
Here’s a rookie from each of the remaining four teams who should have a massive impact on Sunday’s postseason action:
Chiefs RB Isiah Pacheco
(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
For the last few seasons, the Kansas City running attack was seemingly stuck in the mud, after having whiffed on drafting and adding at the position through free agency.
But they seemed to have figured it out as of late with their seventh round draft pick out of Rutgers in Pacheco.
Last week, Pacheco cruised on the ground and controlled the running attack for Kansas City, notching over 100 scrimmage yards in a huge win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was key in helping to close out a tight game, and will likely be so again against a Bengals defense that is giving up 4.2 yards per carry on the ground this season.
If the Chiefs can burn the clock and keep the ball out of Joe Burrow’s hands with Pacheco, they may very well punch their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Eagles DL Jordan Davis
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
When Davis was drafted by the Eagles with the No. 13 overall pick back in April, they knew they were getting a huge, athletic stud who could eat up double teams and produce a solid pass rush.
While he perhaps has not entirely lived up to his enormous collegiate reputation, he has been solid since recovering from a high ankle sprain while getting rotational work behind veteran Linval Joseph.
Last week against the Giants, Davis was key in plugging gaps and limiting the Giants offense to just seven points, creating constant interior pressure on Daniel Jones, who could never get going.
Davis will look for even more snaps this week against a creative and balanced 49ers attack, and may be key in shutting off the dominant running game lead by All-Pro runner Christian McCaffrey.
Bengals OL Cordell Volson
Syndication: The Enquirer
Perhaps one of the more unsung rookies of the season, this fourth-rounder out of North Dakota State has quietly been one of the better guards in the NFL, and a bright spot along the historically shaky Bengals offensive line.
Last week against the Bills, Volson was key in completely shutting off a usually stout Buffalo pass rush, helping to keep Joe Burrow clean, clearing the way for a 100-yard day for Joe Mixon.
Volson will be key in creating that type of push once again against a talented Chiefs defensive line that includes the likes of Chris Jones, who could key in on the rookie and test him early and often.
49ers QB Brock Purdy
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Purdy’s story up to this point has been well-documented, and for good reason, as no one expected “Mr. Irrelevant” to come in as a third-string quarterback and help carry this 49ers offense to an undefeated record since being forced into the starting job.
He hasn’t just been a “game manager” either, throwing for multiple scores in many games this season, and averaging a QB rating of over 100 while leading a talented San Francisco offense.
Last week, Purdy got to face one of the top defenses in the NFL in the Dallas Cowboys, and while he did not put up rock-star stats, you’d be hard pressed to call his outing a failure, given how he protected the football and was able to come away with yet another win.
Purdy will likely need to be more of an impact player this weekend against an Eagles team that casually dropped 38 points on the Giants in the divisional round, and he’ll need to do it against a defense that is every bit as talented as the one he faced last week.
If he can keep his composure, the legend of Brock Purdy will grow even more on the road to the Super Bowl.