Can you imagine being selected during the NFL Draft as a rookie and making it to the Super Bowl all within the same season? For seven offensive players this year, they are going to be doing more than just imagining it.
This year’s Super Bowl will feature a combined seven offensive rookies heading down to Miami, Florida for the big game. For the Kansas City Chiefs, wide receiver Mecole Hardman, running back Darwin Thompson, center Nick Allegretti, and right tackle Jackson Barton are making the trip. And for the San Francisco 49ers – wide receiver Deebo Samuel, tight end Daniel Helm, and left tackle Justin Skule.
Sure, some of these guys have made more of an impact on their offenses than others this year. Names like Deebo Samuel will sound a lot more familiar to you than Daniel Helm. But on Sunday night, all of these players will get to walk onto a field that most men in the league go their entire careers without seeing.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the data and stats of a few of these rookies:
Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman saw more action during the first quarter of the season but has been a quiet part of the offense ever since. During Week 5, he generated an OSM grade of 37.92 (nearing Elite ranking) and was WR14 for all receivers that week. Hardman has recorded 538 receiving yards and six touchdowns while on the field for Kansas City this season.
Darwin Thompson, Chiefs running back, put together 128 rushing yards this season as a third-string back and averaged 3.5 yards per attempt. He had one touchdown this year that came in Week 13 against the Oakland Raiders in arguably his most productive game of the season.
For the 49ers, leading the wide receiver group is rookie Deebo Samuel. Samuel recorded 802 yards this year on the San Francisco offense with the help of QB Jimmy Garoppolo. For the regular season, he averaged 8.5 yards after catch, which not only led the team but is the second-highest YAC average among all receivers in the league. Deebo has an overall OSM grade of 38.63 that places him at WR02 in the NFL. He’s had a stellar year in San Fransisco, specifically coming down the second half of the regular season and into the post-season.
What kind of influence can this rookie class have on the outcome of Sunday’s finale? In a recent article, I gathered the PFN OSM data on the offensive starters of the Chiefs and 49ers. According to the OSM, San Fransisco’s starting offensive has the stronger overall grade of 30.95 compared to Kansas City’s of 27.22. A key part of this separation is due to the breakout performance of Deebo Samuel.
Using the OSM data, I anticipate that we will see a fair amount of targets to Deebo, including a number of deep balls, and he should be a major part of the 49ers offense. Mecole Hardman should also get some looks as well, possibly later in the game. But, as far as the Super Bowl rookies go, these are the two names you should anticipate to see on Sunday.
The Super Bowl LIV kicks off this coming up Sunday evening, and my counterparts here at PFN will have continued coverage all week long. Be sure to check back here for the latest blogs and data.