22. Danielle Hunter – Minnesota Vikings
The stout Vikings defense took a giant step forward in 2016 – thanks in large part to the emergence of Hunter. A stud pass rusher, Hunter led the charge for the Vikings’ front seven, tallying 12.5 sacks on the year. According to Pro Football Focus, the LSU product had a better season than perennial studs Sheldon Richardson, Brian Orakpo, Jabaal Sheard and Terrell Suggs. Not bad company to be in for the former third-round pick.
Image Source: Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports
21. Jack Conklin – Tennessee Titans
The Titans got their franchise quarterback in 2015, so the logical next move was to grab their franchise tackle in 2016. In his rookie year with the team, Conklin actually outperformed his teammate Taylor Lewan – who would be on this list as well if he hadn’t just turned 25 years old. His size and athleticism made him a top pick in the draft, and his ability to shift to either tackle spot will be invaluable for the Titans’ offense moving forward. The former Michigan State Spartan proves yet again that the Big Ten is the premier offensive lineman factory.
Image Source: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports
20. Jay Ajayi – Miami Dolphins
After an underwhelming rookie year behind Lamar Miller on the depth chart, Ajayi was unleashed for the Dolphins. In his second start, Ajayi blistered the Steelers for 204 yards. The Dolphins’ bell-cow back bested himself the very next week, totaling 214 rushing yards against the Bills. He’s a legitimate workhorse in the “Running Back by Committee” era — consistently getting better as the game wears on. In 2016, after Ajayi recorded his 20th attempt in a game, he averaged over 11 yards per carry on the touches that followed – punishing defenders in the fourth quarter.
Image Source: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports