Sports

Super Bowl 2021: Tristan Wirfs, L’Jarius Sneed headline important rookies who’ll make impact in Super Bowl LV

Super Bowl 55 boasts an amazing quarterback matchup — Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes — but there are a quartet of rookies with the abilities to have an impact. Some are obvious. Some aren’t. And, remember, just last year, first-year pros Deebo Samuel and Nick Bosa were quite impactful in Super Bowl 54. So which rookies could play an important role in lifting their squads to a Super Bowl title in Tampa on Sunday? 

Here are four that we think could help put their team over the top:

Impact level: High

By now you probably know — Sneed enters the Super Bowl as Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded rookie cornerback. The rookie from Louisiana Tech has been that good. 

Originally deployed on the outside, Sneed has found a home in the slot with the Chiefs as a rookie after playing safety in his final season at college. And we aren’t dealing with some finesse, overachiever here. Sneed had 19 pass breakups and eight interceptions in four years with the Bulldogs and ran 4.37 along with a 41-inch vertical. 

He’ll likely see a great deal of Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, so Sneed will absolutely play a vital role in determining the outcome of this Super Bowl. 

Super Bowl LV is almost here, and you can watch it for free on the CBS Sports App.

Buccaneers S Antoine Winfield Jr. 

Impact level: High

With 94 tackles during the regular season to go along with six pass breakups and an interception while playing nearly 91% of the defensive snaps, Winfield has been an impactful piece to what the Buccaneers can do on defense. 

He’s played nearly 800 snaps as a true free safety, thereby allowing Todd Bowles to deploy another safety in the middle of the field as a robber or in the box as an extra defender to halt the run. It’s rare to see Winfield out of position in coverage, and it’s rare to see a team place so much faith in a rookie as the line of defense in coverage. Winfield’s earned that trust, and, as evidenced by his tackle figure, he’s made his presence felt against the run. 

Impact level: Low

Johnson only has two grabs for 31 yards in the playoffs, but one was an outstanding back-shoulder grab against the Saints in the divisional round victory. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who rocked for years at Minnesota is certainly deep down the depth chart at receiver for Tampa Bay, but has the complete game to become a true X-factor if the Chiefs do a fine job handling the Buccaneers top receiving trio. 

While not particularly amazing in any area, Johnson gets off the line fluidly, is flashy after the catch, can win in jump-ball situations, and is a crisp route runner. Don’t be surprised if Brady looks his way out of the slot on a few occasions. 

Impact level: High

No first-year player will be more important in Super Bowl 55 than Wirfs. The instant superstar right tackle has done a marvelous job protecting Brady and paving lanes for Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette all season, playing with a veteran-like blend of balance but quick feet, upper-body power, and magnificent recovery skill if initially beaten. 

Wirfs will see the strong and athletic Frank Clark often, and if he’s completely neutralized by Wirfs, Brady will likely have plenty of time to survey before finding an open target. While it’d be a challenge for an offensive tackle to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, Wirfs had a legitimate case this season. He’s allowed just 23 pressures on 817 pass-blocking snaps this season. And since the start of Week 12 — when he pitched a shutout against the Chiefs defense — Wirfs has surrendered a minuscule four pressures on 332 pass-blocking snaps. He’s been dominant. 

(All advanced statistics courtesy of TruMedia unless otherwise noted)




Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button