Soon enough, NFL rookies will get an introduction to playing against professional veterans, but how they fare against one another brings an intrigue all its own to the football season. Head-to-head matchups can provide an entertaining snapshot of how well-prepared two rookies are to assimilate as pros.
Here are 10 of the best rookie matchups on the 2016 NFL schedule:
1. Laremy Tunsil vs. Joey Bosa
Game:Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers
Date: Nov. 13
Why it resonates: There won't be a more exciting head-to-head matchup of rookies all season than this one. Then again, these two might not go head-to-head if the Dolphins slide Tunsil inside to guard, as Bosa will be working on the edges. Tunsil's pass-protection skills are elite, and on passing downs he could frustrate the gifted Bosa, who made easy work of Big Ten tackles for three consecutive years. When the Dolphins want to run the ball, however, don't be surprised if Bosa controls the edge. He excels against the run as well, while Tunsil's experience as a drive blocker is limited from an Ole Miss offense that most often had him in pass pro, and ran the ball with draw plays and stretch plays rather than power plays.
2. Carson Wentz vs. Leonard Floyd
Game:Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
Date: Sept. 19
Why it resonates: OK, so this is not a true head-to-head matchup, but these two could be tracking each other all game long. If he's the starter at the time, this would mark the first regular-season road game of Wentz's career. And Floyd could have a chance to spoil it as the Bears' newest pass rusher. Getting more pressure on the quarterback was a draft priority for the Bears, and they invested the No. 9 pick of the draft on Floyd to do so. Can Floyd get around Eagles star left tackle Jason Peters? And if so, will Wentz's escapability leave Floyd grasping for air?
3. Jared Goff vs. Vernon Hargreaves
Game:Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Date: Sept. 25
Why it resonates: Hargreaves will hardly have gotten his NFL feet wet (Week Three) when the No. 1 pick of the draft tests his cover skills. The Florida native will be making his NFL home debut against the Rams, so anticipation will be high among Bucs fans for his performance. Goff, already the presumed starter in Los Angeles, will find Hargreaves challenging Rams receivers with an aggressive style, alertness and ball skills, perhaps against one he's already seen plenty of: former SEC East foe Pharoh Cooper, a Rams rookie out of South Carolina.
4. Ronnie Stanley vs. Shaq Lawson
Game:Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens
Date: Sept. 11
Why it resonates: The first offensive tackle chosen in the draft, Stanley, takes on the Bills' top pick at No. 19 overall in Lawson in Week One. If that rings a bell, it should, because they were matched head-to-head last season when Notre Dame played Clemson. Lawson had a big day, recording 3.5 tackles for loss and drawing a rare holding penalty on Stanley. Expect their college encounter to get rehashed media attention in the days leading up to the game.
5. Laquon Treadwell vs. Jalen Ramsey
Game:Minnesota Vikings at Jacksonville Jaguars
Date: Dec. 11
Why it resonates: The highest-drafted cornerback matches up with one of only four wide receivers taken in the first round. Stylistically, it should also be an intriguing matchup as Treadwell is a bigger, physical receiver, while Ramsey is supposed to have the size to hold up against that type of player. ... Bonus matchup: Ramsey vs. Moritz Boehringer. OK, so it's not at all a sure thing that "MoBo", the historic sixth-round pick from Germany, will be on the field. But if he is, watching him work against Ramsey would also be a treat.
6. Jalen Ramsey vs. Will Fuller
Game:Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans
Date: Nov. 13 and Dec. 18
Why it resonates: Like speed? This matchup offers plenty of it. Fuller, who had the second-fastest 40-yard-dash time (4.32 seconds) of all NFL Scouting Combine participants this year, will be looking to stretch the field, and the ultra-athletic Ramsey, who put on a show of his own at the combine, will be charged with keeping him from getting loose. We'll get to see this battle play out twice this season, as the clubs are division rivals.
7. Eli Apple vs. Corey Coleman
Game:New York Giants at Cleveland Browns
Date: Nov. 27
Why it resonates: Chosen within five picks of one another in the first round (Apple at No. 10 and Coleman at No. 15), they'll meet the Sunday after Thanksgiving in what should be an exciting pairing. Coleman's speed could challenge Apple on vertical routes, and as Apple's NFL.com scouting profile notes, he tends to draw flags when beaten. If the Browns are getting mediocre quarterback play at the time, however, Apple could have an edge.
8. Derrick Henry vs. Myles Jack
Game:Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Date: Oct. 27 and Dec. 24
Why it resonates: The second of the two meetings will be a homecoming game for Henry, who grew up in the Jacksonville area (Yulee, Fla.). As if that won't be enough motivation, Henry's counterpart in the Jaguars' backfield will be his former teammate at Alabama, T.J. Yeldon. Henry and Jack are two second-round picks who have both, at one time or another, indicated they felt deserving of first-round status. Jack is entering a rookie season that will come with higher expectations than some second-round picks are faced with after his slip out of Round 1. Against one of the draft's top running backs, in divisional games, the stage will be a bit bigger for Jack, as well.
9. Robert Nkemdiche vs. Joshua Garnett
Game:Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
Date: Oct. 6 and Nov. 13
Why it resonates: Garnett was a surprise as a first-round choice, but his strength and power as a run blocker isn't to be underestimated. Coming from a pro-style offense like Stanford's, power football will be nothing new to him. He'll be a true test for Nkemdiche, the eccentric saxophone player who enters his pro career with character questions, a college track record of on-field inconsistency, and a wealth of athleticism that at one point had him in the conversation to be a top-10 draft choice.
10. A'Shawn Robinson vs. Ryan Kelly
Game:Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts
Date: Sept. 11
Why it resonates: Former teammates will square off in the trenches in their career debuts. Robinson, a DT, and Kelly, a center, both starred at Alabama, so they're very familiar with each other. NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has already predicted a winner in the head-to-head battle.