This year's rookie class is more than living up to the hype thus far. Guys like Leonard Fournette, Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker were widely regarded as some of the top talents available leading up to the draft, and they've delivered with solid play in their inaugural campaigns. This early success hasn't come as much of a shock to evaluators.
However, there are other rookies that have caught some folks in the scouting community by surprise with their early season play. I reached out to 5 NFL executives to find out which rookie performance has been the biggest surprise for them through Week 5. This, of course, is based off their pre-draft opinions of the prospects. Here are their answers.
Executive 4:Bears RB Tarik Cohen
"You try not to be influenced by level of competition and a player's stature, but it happens. I still like (Darren) Sproles a lot better when he came out. Tarik might be more polished as a receiver but people forget how effective Sproles was as a north and south runner. Cohen leaves yards off the stat sheet trying to live up to his nickname (The Human Joystick). That being said, he's having a bigger impact than I anticipated."
Executive 5: Kareem Hunt
"Hunt was a full process guy. He played in the Senior Bowl, participated in the NFL Scouting Combine, etc. Teams had a lot of exposure to him. Most saw him as mid-to-late Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) guy. I don't think many people thought he'd be a three-down, impact starter in Year One."
Summary: That's 2 votes for Hunt and 1 apiece for Lawson, Watson and Cohen.
Conclusion: I liked all four of these players during the pre-draft process, but based on how they've played so far, I believe I was too low on all of them. Hunt is a legitimate MVP candidate, Watson has more than looked the part of a franchise QB and Cohen has emerged as one of the most electric multi-purpose backs in the league. Lawson still has some flexibility issues, but he's so explosive, and that allows him to generate a lot of disruption up front. Hopefully all four of these players continue to exceed expectations.