The Most Disappointing NFL Rookies of 2020
Some of the biggest prospects in pro football entering this past season fell short of lofty expectations
When NFL teams draft players, it’s with an eye towards their future. Naturally, the hope is that each selection will pay off with the players becoming valuable contributors for years to come. Unfortunately, not every pick is a home run; in fact, far from it. With a full first season under their belts, here are the most disappointing rookies of the 2020 season.
Henry Ruggs, Wide Receiver- Las Vegas Raiders: Following in a long line of impossibly speedy receivers that the Raiders fall in love with on Draft Day, the team took another in Ruggs with the 12th overall pick this past year. The Alabama product is incredibly athletic and has burners for days but was seen as a bit of a project. Despite flashing his potential, the season was largely a disappointment, as he had just 26 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns. However, 188 yards and a score came in Week 5, meaning he did very little in most of the other games in which he appeared. Still just 21, there is plenty of time for him to get better acclimated and start putting up the kind of numbers the Raiders expected when they drafted him so highly.
Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker- Arizona Cardinals: Simmons belongs on this list more because he fell well short of incredibly high expectations rather than because he has played terribly. Coming out of Clemson, he was seen as a can’t miss impact defender, with the ability to step in and produce immediately. Instead, he had the ups and downs one might expect from a young man who is barely old enough to legally drink. He appeared in 16 games, making seven starts. Playing about a third of the team’s defensive snaps, he totaled 54 tackles, an interception and two sacks. There is a lot more for him to tap into, but his rookie season ended up being the year he attempted to get his feet under him rather than his coming out party.
K’Lavon Chaisson, Linebacker- Jacksonville Jaguars: Being picked in the 20th spot out of a major program like LSU, it’s reasonable to expect that Chaisson might have produced a bit more in his rookie campaign. It just didn’t happen that way. He was a part-timer, appearing in all 16 games (making three starts). Even with a lack of playing time (51% of defensive snaps), he did little during his time on the field, with 19 tackles and a sack. With nine quarterback hits and three tackles for loss, there is the hope that he can develop into more of a pass rushing force as he matures. Hopefully, he develops as originally planned but for now his initial season is a qualified disappointment.
Noah Igbinoghene, Cornerback- Miami Dolphins: Drafted with the 30th pick at the end of the first round, some considered the cornerback a bit of a reach in that spot. The Auburn product had a great college career but his youth (he just turned 21 last month) and his lack of size (he is just 5’10”) were all factors working against him. It appears that the Dolphins indeed have a project on their hands, as he played sparingly and didn’t produce much when he was on the field. In 16 games, he played 28% of the defensive snaps. He produced just 13 total tackles and two fumble recoveries. However, he didn’t make any interceptions, and had just two passes defended, indicating he has a ways to go to live up to his draft status.