In 2016, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott made an immediate impact in the NFL after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys to help their team top the NFC East. The early signs this year suggest there will be handful of rookies at the end of the season that will have firmly established themselves as some of the leading players in the league after just one campaign. Here is a look at the three players who look certain to be in contention for rookie of the year awards in 2017.
Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs)
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His first play in the NFL resulted in a fumble against New England Patriots at Foxborough in their season-opening win; however, since then, the Toledo college running-back has been explosive and one of the reasons as to why the Chiefs have made such a good start to their campaign. The 22-year-old is the Chiefs’ number one RB so he is sure to get the same number of carries throughout the season so as long as he stays injury-free, he will be at the top end of the touchdown and rushing yards charts in 2017. Hunt looks to have a huge future with the NFL and is part of a young team which clearly will be expected to help Kansas City have success in the playoffs.
Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)
At the start of this season, Tom Savage was the starting quarterback for the Houston Texans. However, after a disappointing start, Bill O’Brien felt it was the right time to hand the reins to rookie Deshaun Watson. The Texans coach won’t be regretting that move as the Clemson QB has looked comfortable and has given them hope that he can be their franchise QB of the future. Houston have been tipped to be an outside shot for the playoffs this year and if Watson continues to improve that looks to be a good prediction. Champions Bets preview and provide tips on the NFL every week and the Texans are likely to be a popular selection in the second half of the season, as their receivers are becoming in sync with their new quarterback, which signals problems for opposing defences.
Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars)
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The Jacksonville Jaguars were seriously missing a running game last season but they attempted to put that right in the draft back in April when they selected Leonard Fournette fourth overall after defensive end Myles Garrett went first in the opening round. The former LSU man has given the Jags a new dimension and taken the pressure of the arm of Blake Bortles, which showed in the Jags’ win over the Ravens at Wembley in London. Although he has yet to have an explosive big run like Hunt, the 22-year-old has consistently picked up yards and been in the end zone. If he continues to shine for Jacksonville, they could be about to end their long stint away from the playoffs.
All three of these rookies will be hoping they can take their side to the Super Bowl this season, which takes place on February 4 at the US Bank Stadium in Minnesota.