NFL schedule: Intriguing rookie vs. veteran matchups that could feature welcome-to-the-league moments

Now that the NFL schedule has been released, it’s easy to pinpoint moments to be excited about for the season. That includes a host of talented rookies that will be facing the toughest competition of their lives in the near future. Here's a rookie versus veteran matchup to keep an eye on each week for the upcoming season — even if they don’t go well for the rookie.

Assuming Fashanu is starting over Morgan Moses by Week 1, the rookie is in for a tough start to his career with the best of the best in Bosa. Fashanu’s performance will be paramount considering this is the first regular-season game Aaron Rodgers will play in after last season’s Achilles injury. He’ll need protection against one of the fiercest pass rushers in the league.

Parsons has been giving offensive tackles hell since he got into the league and Fuaga is going to get a taste of that to start his career. It’s unclear exactly what spot Fuaga will be playing, but he has a chance to be a starter at either tackle spot depending on how the next few months play out for the Saints. Parsons will be all over Fuaga no matter where he’s lining up.

Maye’s first game against the divisional rival Jets should be a doozy. The Patriots’ offense is very much a work in progress while the Jets' defense is firmly one of the best in the league. If Maye can make plays against the Jets’ defensive line and secondary, he might have what it takes to be the Patriots’ franchise quarterback.

Foxborough, MA - May 11: New England Patriots rookies Ja'Lynn Polk and QB Drake Maye share a laugh at the team's 2024 Rookie Mini-Camp. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Seahawks rookie has the tools to be a disruptive presence on the interior and a true pass-rushing threat. With Ragnow, the Lions still boast one of the strongest position groups in the league and it will be a good litmus test for where Murphy is early in his career.

This one is interesting because it’s a battle between two young players that might primarily happen in the slot. In college, Nabers did his best work from the slot where he could use his speed to open up windows in the deep middle portion of the field. That’s where Seahawks star cornerback Devon Witherspoon spent most of his rookie season and played exceptionally well.

The Ravens should still have a tough defense even though their former coordinator Mike Macdonald is off to Seattle. They still have one of the most talented rosters in the league and they’re perfectly suited to take advantage of a rookie quarterback behind a shaky offensive line. Like Maye versus the Jets, this will be a great early moment for Daniels to see how he fares against top NFL talent.

Morgan against two of the best edge rushers in the league should be fun for him. Whether it’s speed or power, Morgan will see it all when he takes on the Texans' top defenders.

Mitchell might be the steal of the first round and he’ll be able to prove it when the Bengals and Eagles square off. This is probably the best wide receiver duo in football and Mitchell will see a heavy dose of both Chase and Higgins in this game.

Philadelphia Eagles' Quinyon Mitchell participates in a drill during NFL rookie minicamp at the football team's training facility, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Eagles cornerback Quinyon Mitchell participates in a drill during rookie minicamp in May. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Garrett has blown up every offensive tackle he has faced up against, so no harm no foul if Alt gets crushed here. However, if Alt is actually the high level of player he is projected to be, he might have a chance of holding his own to a degree.

There might not be any player faster than Worthy and there might not be any cornerback better than Surtain. This is a divisional matchup that should have some good battles over the next few years. Worthy getting one on Surtain this early might be difficult.

One of the most highly touted tight end prospects against one of the best young safeties in the NFL. Holland does a bit of everything for the Dolphins defense and should get his fair share of matches against Bowers, who projects to do a little bit of everything for the Raiders.

Go back and watch what McCaffrey did to the Packers in the playoffs. Cooper will be tasked with being better than that. Tough task, but the Packers rookie at least has the speed to be in position to make plays on McCaffrey.

The NFC North has one of the most fascinating WR vs. CB battles in the league this year with the games between the Bears and Lions. The Bears now boast arguably the best wide receiver room in the league while the Lions spent their first two draft picks on cornerbacks while also trading for Carlton Davis. This could be a defining battle in this division for years to come.

Latham appears to have the inside track toward being the Titans' starting left tackle this season which means he’s going to have a couple bouts with the freshly paid Allen. The Jaguars star has the speed to, in theory, give Latham fits, but Latham is talented enough to hold his own.

Whew, good luck Thomas. He is seen as a bit of a project and has a game against Gardner this season. Just try to run by him, Brian.

Real Ravens-Steelers football is back. This should be one of the more physical matchups of the season. Fautanu is a skilled, physical lineman just like his counterpart in Madubuike. Fataunu is slated to be a starter at guard where he’ll see plenty of reps against one of the top interior defensive linemen in the game.

Carter wrecked heads as a rookie and Beebe, who is quietly a player of huge importance for the team at the interior line spot, will have his chance to prove he belongs twice a season against Carter. Beebe played guard and right tackle for Kansas State, but should settle in at guard for now.

Another divisional matchup to close this out. Leggette was drafted to be a powerhouse playmaker, which is the kind of wideout that has given Terrell trouble in the past. Still, Terrell is a talented enough player in that he should be able to give the rookie some fits too.