The 2012 NFL draft was packed with talented players who should make an impact during their rookie seasons. That said, many of the top guys selected have had outrageous expectations heaped on them by fans and the press.
Rookies rarely make a huge impact on the NFL. Yes, some guys step up and have great seasons, but it typically takes time for players to adjust to the speed of the pro game.
The following three guys have had ridiculous expectations placed on their shoulders, and people need to be more realistic about what they will do as rookies.
Trent Richardson is expected to lead the Cleveland Browns' offense this season and for the foreseeable future. After being selected with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, the Alabama product will step in right away and become the team's primary ball-carrier. Given his size and athletic ability that may not be a problem for the 20-year-old.
But with an unsettled quarterback situation and no other reliable running backs on the roster it's not hard to picture Richardson leading the NFL in touches in 2012. That's a lot of pressure to put on a rookie.
Leading up to the draft I scouted Richardson heavily and watched hours of tape on him. I'm convinced he's the best all-around back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson in 2007. He has size, power, speed, great vision and is the type of guy who doesn't shy from contact but actually seems to relish it. He is the rare punishing inside runner who can also outrun defenders.
He will be a successful running back in the league, but the Browns need to be careful not to overuse him as a rookie. While he should certainly be the team's No. 1 running back, he shouldn't be expected to bail its offense out all the time. He can only do so much, and until the Browns get better around him, they won't go anywhere.
The Washington Redskins surrendered three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move up to the No. 2 spot in the 2012 draft so they could take Robert Griffin III. It was a bold move, but by making it the 'Skins showed tremendous confidence that Griffin was worthy of taking over as their franchise quarterback.
Many are projecting Griffin to the be NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012, but just because Cam Newton had a remarkable rookie season in 2011 doesn't mean that Griffin is destined for the same level of success.
Griffin has incredible athletic ability, and the fact that he has 4.41 speed at nearly 6'3" and 220 pounds makes him a dangerous threat in and out of the pocket. He has a good arm and developing accuracy, but the rest of the Redskins will need to raise their game if RG3 is going to be successful early in his career.
Washington went out and vastly overpaid to sign former Indianapolis Colts receiver Pierre Garcon. But with Garcon, tight end Fred Davis and running back Roy Helu, the Redskins have a nice young core surrounding Griffin. I'm just not sure those guys are ready to step up and be premiere offensive players yet. They still have developing to do.
Many are expecting huge numbers from Griffin as a rookie, but quarterbacks often have a long learning process in the NFL. Newton's rookie season was a complete aberration, and the chances of Griffin replicating that kind of success are extremely low. People need to dial down the expectations for the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner's rookie year.
All Andrew Luck is supposed to do is step in and replace a four-time MVP and 11-time Pro Bowler who may go on to be remembered as the greatest quarterback of all-time when he retires. Good luck kid.
The Stanford signal-caller was expected to be the top pick in the 2012 NFL draft for over a year, and it was no surprise that the Indianapolis Colts made him their top selection this year. But the fact that they jettisoned franchise cornerstone Peyton Manning in order to do it puts a lot of pressure on Luck.
Fans need to remember that no matter how good Luck is, he will still be a rookie on a team that went 2-14 last year while boasting the worst roster in the NFL. The Colts did some work to add pieces around Luck through the draft, but they are still years away from challenging for a playoff spot.
The key for Luck and the Colts will be slow growth. He doesn't have the talent around him to make a huge impact as a rookie. Fans need to understand that Indianapolis essentially hit the reset button on the franchise this offseason, and it's going to take a long time to build the team up.
In the meantime Luck's job will be to minimize mistakes and get acclimated to the speed of the NFL game. An average season in 2012 would be considered a success.