Gil Brandt names 4 SEC standouts in 'best position to succeed' as NFL rookies
Former NFL executive Gil Brandt knows a thing or two about how a rookie can succeed early in his NFL career.
While the player has plenty of responsibility for any impact, Brandt noted on NFL.com that, “it can be easy to forget that team fit and other surrounding circumstances can have as much to do with rookie success as anything. But some rookies are in a more favorable spot to succeed right away than others.”
With that in mind, Brandt wrote about eight rookies in the best position to succeed in 2021, and four of them have SEC ties. Among them, Alabama’s Najee Harris in Pittsburgh, Florida’s Kyle Pitts in Atlanta, Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle in Miami and Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II in Denver.
Here’s a sampling of how Brandt sees each player:
The winner of last season’s Doak Walker Award, given to college football’s best running back, Harris has all the markings of the kind of bell-cow rushing-and-receiving weapon the team has been searching for since Le’Veon Bell’s last season with the Steelers, in 2017.
Pitts, however, is a supremely gifted prospect who is extremely well-positioned to make an instant impact as a rookie pass-catcher. … He’s a mismatch nightmare who presents an impossible conundrum for opposing defenses; too difficult for linebackers to cover, Pitts will force Atlanta’s opponents into doing things they don’t want to do.
Waddle averaged a ridiculous 19 yards per catch at Alabama and possesses game-breaking speed that makes him a threat to score every time he touches the football. He also has the advantage of having played with Tagovailoa before, during their time together at Alabama.
Surtain, chosen ninth overall, may very well be the best cornerback prospect turned out by Alabama since Nick Saban became head coach there in 2007, and that’s saying something, considering the talent Saban has produced