Young Players who will Transform their Defense
Johnathan Abram SS Raiders
Johnathan Abram was my favorite player going into last years draft and he looked like he was going to be an absolute star in his first game. The trait that I love about him is his confidence. One thing that you absolutely can not fake is confidence and Abram's confidence defines who he is as a player. While he might not shut the hell up, talking trash, he will listen and learn how to understand an offense. Even though he was rehabbing from an injury, I take his rookie season similar to Patrick Mahomes. He got one game of experience and got to learn and understand how the NFL works. He's taken the time to diagnose NFL offenses and understand the ins and outs of the game. While I'm sure he wasn't happy that he missed his rookie year, his redshirt season will help him in the long run. I believe Abrams' presence is going to make this defense 10x better than it was last season. With Maxx Crosby becoming an under the radar star, the Raiders defensive line is going to compliment their new, revamped secondary a ton. While I didn't love the Damon Arnette pick in the first round, the Raiders needed a corner on the other side of Trayvon Mullens. This defense is young, but it's definitely got some bangers. Clelin Ferrel should take a step up in his second season and as we saw with the 49ers, a great front seven makes a great secondary and same vise-versa. Johnathan Abram is going to be a leader and he is going to bring a feistiness to this defense.
Xavier McKinney FS Giants
The Giants were missing a leader on their defense last season, and they got one in the second round of this years draft. Last year, Xavier McKinney was the leader for a Nick Saban led defense and he is going to make an instant impact for big blue. McKinney is an absolute stud and he had a veteran type of presence at Alabama in his final season. With McKinney solidifying the back end of the Giants defense, that will give Patrick Graham some freedom when using Jabrill Peppers. In my opinion, Peppers has looked a little uncomfortable in his first few seasons in the NFL and with McKinney overtop, he'll be able to take more chances, jump more routes, and play free. One of the biggest mysteries in the NFL is Joe Judge. Nobody is exactly sure of what to expect out of him as a head coach because we didn't really hear about him in New England. One thing that I do know is that he's building his defense similar to the Patriots. He's starting with the secondary, we've seen the Patriots spend money on a corner (Stephon Gilmore) similar to how the Giants spent money on James Bradberry. This defense is going to be a lot better and it's because of Xavier McKinney.
Antoine Winfield Jr. FS Buccaneers
Antoine Winfield Jr. was my favorite safety in the draft this year and he couldn't have gone to a better situation. The Buccaneers have an amazing defensive line with Shaq Barrett and JPP, but they had an awful secondary. Similar to Xavier McKinney, I think Winfield will come in instantly and be a leader in that secondary. While Jameis Winston's woes got all the attention last season, the Buccaneers secondary wasn't pretty. I still don't love their cornerbacks, but I think Winfield will make this secondary so much better. Winfield looks like he's been watching film since he came out of the womb and he understands how the NFL works because of his father. I thought Winfield was hands down the best safety in college football last season but didn't get the recognition because of both injuries and going to a school that wasn't in the SEC. While all the attention will be on Tom Brady and the Buccaneers offense this season, Antoine Winfield could be a guy that competes for defensive rookie of the year this season.
Chase Young DE Redskins
I believe Chase Young will have a similar effect as Nick Bosa had on the 49ers last season. While the Redskins already had an amazing defensive line last season, they were still missing something... Chase Young was that something. Young has been working relentlessly this offseason and he just looks like an absolute ANIMAL! With the input of Chase Young and Reuben Foster, this front seven will help Washington win games! By adding Chase Young, that frees up Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Ryan Kerrigan (the most underrated player in the NFL), and Da'Ron Payne. Ron Rivera is a great head coach who has a history of coaching guys like Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shawne Merriman. Rivera is a defensive minded guy who will focus in on making Young a beast in the NFC East. I love his choice of bringing in Thomas Davis who has played with some monster defensive linemen. Chase Young is going to make this defense so much better and wreak havoc in the NFC East.
Jeff Okudah CB Lions
Jeff Okudah is the best cornerback I have ever seen coming out of college football. He is amazing at both man and zone coverage and isn't afraid to hit. His defensive IQ and play recognition is through the charts and is going to be a lockdown corner from day one. He will be Matt Patricia's Stephon Gilmore and is going to fill the void left by Darius Slay. He fits what Matt Patricia wants to do perfectly and is going to bring confidence to Detroit. The Lions have played losing football for what seems like forever now, and I think Okudah is the first piece for turning it all around. Okudah plays with this swagger that's just overall contagious. I expect his confidence to wear off on that defense and he has a lot of veteran guys on that team who he can learn from. I see Jeff Okudah being a guy you can put on an island from day one and help transform Lions football into winning culture.