Bears QB Caleb Williams Michael Reaves/Getty Images

7 Best Head-to-Head Rookie Matchups on 2024 NFL Schedule

Ryan Fowler

The NFL released its 2024 schedule on Wednesday, which means we now have no shortage of intriguing matchups to dissect. That includes must-watch showdowns between some of the league's freshest faces.

The 2024 NFL draft provided a fresh injection of high-end talent into the league. From star quarterbacks like Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye to elite wide receivers such as Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze, these rookies will be lighting up fields all over the country this fall.

Here, we've highlighted the most intriguing rookie-vs.-rookie matchups to circle on your calendar.

Week 1: Chiefs WR Xavier Worthy vs. Ravens CB Nate Wiggins

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The 2024 season will kick off with an AFC Championship Game rematch between the two-time reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens. Except this time, both teams have reinforcements in the form of first-round wide receiver Xavier Thomas and cornerback Nate Wiggins, respectively.

The speedy Worthy and the fluid Wiggins should find themselves aligned opposite from each other early and often under the bright lights in Kansas City.

Worthy broke the NFL Scouting Combine record with his 4.21-second 40-yard dash, which garnered plenty of headlines throughout the predraft process. Week 1 will be his first opportunity to work with star quarterback Patrick Mahomes in a game that matters.

Worthy's acceleration and top-end burst will force Baltimore to play him deep, but his ability to quickly separate in the shallow areas could help him carve out a significant target share early in 2024.

Meanwhile, Wiggins is slated to start opposite of Brandon Stephens in a talented, veteran-laden Ravens secondary. While his 173-pound frame raises questions about his play strength at the top of routes and ability to tackle in isolated opportunities, he has the hips and foot speed to flat-out run and should have no issue making plays at a variety of depths.

Those traits should showcase well against the twitched-up Worthy.

Week 3: Cardinals WR Marvin Harrison Jr. vs. Lions CB Terrion Arnold

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While the Arizona Cardinals showed signs of improvement late in 2023, a Week 3 trip to Detroit this fall could demonstrate just how close they are to competing with the NFC elites.

Two products from a pair of the country's most prestigious programs—Cardinals wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr (Ohio State) and Lions cornerback Terrion Arnold (Alabama)—will only add to the intrigue of this matchup.

Harrison should serve as the Cardinals' No. 1 receiver this year. He was the top-ranked player on the final B/R Scouting Department big board, and Arizona lost former No. 1 wideout Marquise Brown in free agency this offseason.

However, the physicality and footwork of Arnold will make life tough on Harrison in this matchup. Second-round cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr. could be a factor here, too.

Week 6: Raiders TE Brock Bowers vs. Steelers LB Payton Wilson

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Las Vegas Raiders tight end Brock Bowers and Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Payton Wilson are two of the most dynamic athletes in this year's draft class. This Week 6 clash between the two should be a flat-out brawl from start to finish.

Whether Bowers is asked to work up to the second level and seal Wilson in the run game or Wilson is asked to stay hip-to-hip with Bowers up the seam, these are the types of matchups that make the NFL special.

Both Bowers and Wilson play positions that have continued to evolve as the years go on. They won't give the other an inch when it comes time to strap up in Week 6.

Week 7: Giants WR Malik Nabers vs. Eagles CB Quinyon Mitchell

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Saquon Barkley's return to MetLife Stadium will be the biggest storyline heading into this game, but a showdown between two top rookies deserves attention as well.

Although the New York Giants still have questions about their future at quarterback, wideout Malik Nabers immediately provides them with their most electric pass-catcher at the position since Odell Beckham Jr was in town years ago. Expect offensive coordinator Mike Kafka to get the No. 6 overall pick involved in unique ways early in his rookie campaign.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles bolstered their beleaguered secondary by spending their first-round pick on Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell. While veterans Darius Slay and James Bradberry remain in Philly for now, Mitchell's elite athletic profile, ball skills and pure man coverage ability separate him from the pack. His skill set should fit seamlessly into Vic Fangio's defensive structure.

Eagles second-round pick Cooper DeJean also deserves to be mentioned here, as his hybrid skillset should allow Fangio to remain creative with his personnel on the back end.

Week 8: Bears QB Caleb Williams vs. Commanders QB Jayden Daniels

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In Week 8, the No. 1 overall pick and No. 2 overall pick will face off for their first time in their NFL careers.

Chicago Bears quarterback Caleb Williams and Washington Commanders quarterback Jayden Daniels are the last two Heisman Trophy winners. Between Williams' creativity and Daniels' electric, dual-threat ability, they're both emblematic of the new wave of playmakers under center.

This will be the third straight year that Chicago and Washington meet despite competing in separate divisions. But the 2024 version of this matchup has a whole new ring to it thanks to Williams and Daniels.

Williams' return to his hometown will add even more juice to this game.

Week 11: Vikings EDGE Dallas Turner vs. Titans OT JC Latham

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Minnesota Vikings edge-rusher Dallas Turner and Tennessee Titans offensive tackle JC Latham battled each other for years during practice at Alabama.

In Week 11, they'll get a chance to do it in the NFL, too.

Both players might have the book on the other's go-to moves on each down and distance. Aligning opposite of each other in Week 11 will be a full-circle moment for both highly touted prospects.

Sit back and enjoy watching Turner use twitch and bend at 247 pounds to press the edge against Latham's powerful lower half and vice grips for hands.

Week 13: Rams EDGE Jared Verse vs. Saints OT Taliese Fuaga

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Make sure you have your volume turned up while watching this Week 13 showdown between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. Thanks to Rams edge-rusher Jared Verse and Saints offensive lineman Taliese Fuaga, pads will crack early and often.

While Verse needs to continue refining the nuances of his edge-rushing game, his fundamental strength and ability to win the leverage battle gives him a floor for success. Considering he'll have 2023 standout rookie Byron Young to take attention off of him, Verse should face a fair share of isolated opportunities against Fuaga in this matchup.

Although Fuaga lived at right tackle at Oregon State, a bump over to the left side to replace 2022 first-rounder Trevor Penning. looks like the immediate plan in New Orleans. Fuaga is a massive man who can distort the line of scrimmage in the run game, but Verse will test his ability to kick-slide and quickly anchor in pass protection.


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