It’s every NFL general manager’s dream to have one of their rookie draft picks make the All-Pro team in their first season.
It’s one of the best, most immediate feelings of satisfaction a team can have.
Most first year NFL players need some time to get their bearings, and make an impact on the next level.
But when a select few hit the ground running, and are among the best players at their position at 23 years old, it can invigorate a franchise and its fan base.
Last season, wide receiver Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings made the All-Pro team as a rookie.
Ironically, the Vikings have had the last two rookie pass catchers to make the All-Pro team in the last 30 years in Jefferson and Randy Moss.
Indianapolis Colts superstar guard Quenton Nelson also earned All-Pro honors in his first NFL season in 2018, and he’s never looked back.
Who are a couple of rookies heading into the 2021 season who could take the league by storm and receive All-Pro awards?
1. Ja’Marr Chase
It would be a meteoric rise for rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to garner an All-Pro distinction in the 2021 season.
He opted out of the 2020 college football season to prepare for the NFL Draft, so he hasn’t played in a meaningful football game since the National Championship game in January 2020.
He’ll likely need to get his football conditioning back up to speed, while also adjusting to the pro game.
It will certainly be an uphill climb for him.
With that said, Chase would seem to have as good of a chance to bust out in his first NFL campaign as anyone.
While at LSU, he teamed up with current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow for an electric 2019 season.
Burrow himself is coming off of a serious knee injury, and his advancement will be a storyline to watch this preseason.
But if he can resemble the player he was in 2019 with the Tigers, or in the first few games of his NFL career, Burrow stands to be a difference-making playmaker.
Since Chase already has a rapport with him from college, it might help reduce the learning curve, and allow him to put up some big numbers.
— Ja’MarrChase (@Real10jayy__) March 3, 2020
2. Kyle Pitts
It’s not hyperbole to say that Kyle Pitts is one of the most decorated tight end prospects in NFL history.
The consensus opinion is that he has one of the highest floors of any rookie coming into the professional ranks, and will at minimum be an above average starter very early on.
If we’re working with that type of promise, it makes sense that Pitts should be a candidate for one of the league’s highest individual honors right from the get-go.
In early May, Pitts’ All-Pro stock was decent, but it got a large boost towards the end of last month when the Atlanta Falcons traded star wide receiver Julio Jones to the Tennessee Titans.
Without Jones in the picture, there are suddenly a boatload of targets up for grabs in Atlanta.
Calvin Ridley is sure to see an uptick in looks, but Pitts will also get his fair share of opportunities to contribute in the passing game.
It has already been reported that the young tight end from the University of Florida has been heavily involved in mini camp.
New head coach Arthur Smith figures to use his rookie weapon early and often, which could end up in an All-Pro honor(with a little luck, if George Kittle has trouble staying healthy again this year).
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Rookies 🤝 Vets pic.twitter.com/KvLR48qtoa
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 18, 2021