Now that we know where all the rookies have landed, it’s time to consider which ones have the potential to make the biggest impact next season. Adam Levitan did a great job listing the rookies with the top fantasy potential (some of which overlap with this list), but here’s an idea of some of the rookies ready to step in and ball at the NFL level.
WR, Houston Texans — No. 85 Overall
Houston selected Will Fuller in the first-round, but it’s Braxton Miller that may be the most NFL-ready. His physicality as a slot receiver should help Brock Osweiler find some easy throws, but Miller’s familiarity as a QB is sure to be worked into the offense at times. The Texans have a history of using the wildcat formation, and this seems like the perfect player for it.
K, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — No. 59 Overall
Taking a kicker in the second-round doesn’t happen often. Factor in that Tampa moved up to make the pick and it’s obvious that they really believe in this kid. The most accurate kicker in NCAA history should translate well to the NFL. If his “impact” is simply knocking in kicks that the previous kicker was unable to, Winston and his entire offense have just improved.
RB, Tennessee Titans — No. 45 Overall
Henry was a surprising pick after the monster investment in DeMarco Murray. I would have used the pick to sure up different positions but that doesn’t mean Henry can’t make a big impact. Henry took a LOT of carries in college, so the best days of his career may be right at the start before he begins to wear down. As a big physical back, he figures to help the up and coming Titans into the end zone with a lot of carries at the goal line. If Murray were to get injured, Henry would be a bell cow back.
WR, Cleveland Browns — No. 15 Overall
RG3 needed a legit weapon and it would appear he now has one. Let’s say the Browns catch lightning in a bottle with Griffin … Coleman will be a huge part of that. Coleman is an excellent athlete with great speed. He has the potential to be a do-it-all WR sooner rather than later.
OT, Miami Dolphins — No. 13 Overall
Yup, draft night was pretty crazy for this dude. However, lets play the “if game.” If the Titans never traded the top pick, and if the infamous video was never released, Tunsil would have been the first pick in the draft. Things didn’t go his way. This is a big time value pick. Tunsil is really going to help that offensive line from day one which should help for more big plays for the entire Fins offense.
DE, Arizona Cardinals — No. 29 Overall
Like Miami, Arizona went for a troubled value pick in the first-round taking Nkemdiche, who has elite potential as a pure pass rusher. Factoring in the pairing with Chandler Jones on the opposite end, and the Cardinals’ biggest weakness (pass rush) is completely wiped away … assuming there are no off the field issues.
C, Indianapolis Colts — No. 18 Overall
Indy seems like they need players to steady the sinking ship after a brutal season. Kelly is a perfect guy to do just that. A pro’s pro by all accounts, Kelly should step in and get on the same page with Andrew Luck and start something special — much like a Peyton Manning/Jeff Saturday relationship. If they can do that, Kelly becomes invaluable.
(Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Dante Fowler Jr.)
Ok, I’m not on this crazy Jags to the Super Bowl bandwagon, BUT Jacksonville’s defense should be very good. They got the best player in the first and second-round of the draft AND don’t forget the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft will be debuting this season — Fowler tore his ACL before the start of last season. By all accounts, Ramsey can be an elite defensive back at corner or safety. Jack was going to be a top-10 pick until he discussed his potential future knee issues, but can clearly play. Fowler was considered not just the best pass rusher, but the best player in the draft last season — being selected after just Winston and Marriota. A player with elite potential has been added to each layer of the Jacksonville D.
RB, Dallas Cowboys — No. 4 Overall
Remember how good the Cowboys were with an elite season from DeMarco Murray? That’s exactly the type of team they should be this season, with an elite running game led by Elliot. Obviously, Elliot figures to be a fantasy favorite this season if all goes to plan. But believe it or not, if the major players around him stay healthy, Elliot could actually play a big role in getting Dallas back to the post season.
QB, Denver Broncos — No. 26 Overall
It looks like the Broncos are done going after quarterbacks, and Mark Sanchez was not very good last season. Lynch is almost a clone of Osweiler (probably not quite as talented) and in all likelihood is going to get his shot this season. Whether he thrives or not is anyone’s guess, but impact wise, it’d be silly to say any other rookie will be putting his stamp on the NFL like Lynch will be. He’s going to be handed the keys to the defending SB champs … We’ll see if he can handle everything that comes along with that.
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