Only a handful of rookies can have an elite impact upon arrival in the NFL.
Last year, some of the expected names did just that. Chase Young was a terror for offensive lines with Washington. Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert were about as elite as it gets for passers debuting without the benefit of a preseason. And wideout Justin Jefferson bullied his way into the top-15 conversation in part thanks to a stat-happy Minnesota offense.
A few select rookies will get to have similar arrivals in 2021. The projectable upside and likely big numbers are factors that set them apart from the rest of the class. But so are the individual situations they dropped into with new teams that should enable said breakouts.
These are the seven rookies who can take the NFL by storm this season.
Micah Parsons, LB Dallas Cowboys
Micah Parsons is one of the few rookies who has a chance to post major stats during his debut.
Parsons was the first pick by a Dallas Cowboys team hoping to rebuild what was a historically inept defense from last year. They made him the 12th overall pick in this pursuit, banking on elite sideline-to-sideline talent that had some people—like NFL.com's Lance Zierlein—comparing him to Myles Jack.
No wonder, as Parsons was one of the top prospects entering the collegiate level and lived up to that hype over 26 games at Penn State, looking pro-ready while posting 191 total tackles, 18 for loss, with 6.5 sacks, five passes defended and six forced fumbles.
Playing in what should be a simplified scheme after last year's overly complex looks ended up with poor results and a coordinator let go, Parsons will get to run wild to his strengths alongside Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. It guarantees a suitable instant-impact environment that will make Parsons impossible to ignore as he stuffs the stat sheet and gets the credit for being the catalyst that revives an entire unit.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
It isn't often a rookie running back gets to take the league by storm anymore.
Despite great landing spots, Clyde Edwards-Helaire in Kansas City and D'Andre Swift in Detroit didn't really do so last year.
But Najee Harris in Pittsburgh has a chance to be different.
The Steelers, after all, have been searching for a workhorse back since Le'Veon Bell left. James Conner wasn't the answer, and the team let him leave in free agency, then went against typically advised draft strategy these days and drafted a running back in the first round.