With the NFL draft and minicamps all but over, it has become increasingly clear which rookies will make significant contributions during the 2012 season.
As we have seen in years past, rookies can have an immediate impact. Just think back to last year when Cam Newton took the league by storm.
So, here are 10 rookies you should recognize, as these newcomers looked primed to make an immediate splash.
Cleveland, in desperate need of an offensive playmaker, hit the lottery when it selected Richardson third overall in April’s draft.
Richardson’s combination of size, skill and athleticism is unmatched by no one in this rookie class. Richardson is a shifty runner who can use both finesse and power to beat defenders.
Richardson will no doubt be an immediate contributor and could be drafted as early as the second round in most drafts.
With Tampa Bay receiving an underwhelming season from LeGarrette Blount, the Bucs felt the need to upgrade their rushing attack and decided to use a first-round pick on Martin.
With Blount more suited for the short, goal-line yards, Martin will be used mostly between the 20s.
Martin is an explosive back who can also catch passes out of the backfield. Martin will certainly rack up a lot of all-purpose yards.
Either way you slice it, Martin will get a lot of touches in the Bucs offense, making him an enticing running back to target in the fifth or sixth rounds of drafts.
When the Giants were drafting late in the first round, they knew they had to fill the void left by the departure of Brandon Jacobs. When they saw Wilson sitting there, they couldn’t resist picking the very versatile running back out of Virginia Tech.
The explosive Wilson will get plenty of touches in New York’s high-octane offense, and considering Ahmad Bradshaw’s injury history, Wilson will offer great insurance for the Giants.
While Bradshaw is the unquestioned starter, Wilson will get his carries and is a great late-round flier in fantasy drafts.
The Redskins have been waiting a long time for a franchise quarterback to lead them back to prominence, and with the selection of RGIII, they have a player who can do magical things on the football field.
Players of Griffin’s pedigree are hard to find, as he blends great athleticism with a keen knowledge of the game.
RGIII will have enough weapons around him to have a solid season. At the very least, RGIII is a high-end No.2 QB with potential of being a No.1 QB for fantasy squads
When you are drafted No. 1 overall in the NFL draft, a lot will be expected of you, but Andrew Luck has the skill set and know-how to make an instant impact.
Luck has been making NFL GMs salivate for years with his tremendous arm and accuracy.
Luck should be on a learning curve, as the Colts don’t exactly have a lot of weapons. Plus, Luck is essentially replacing a living legend in Indianapolis in Peyton Manning. Regardless, Luck is still without a doubt worthy of being drafted because of his tremendous upside.
While his DUI arrest has lowered his value just a bit, Blackmon certainly should not be ignored.
Many young NFL players make these kinds of costly mistakes, and several learn from them. Hopefully Blackmon will too, as there is no more physically-gifted receiver coming into the league than him.
Blackmon is a steady, cerebral playmaker with plenty of room for growth. Playing in Jacksonville’s bland offense will not help, but Blackmon is at least a No. 3 receiver for fantasy purposes this year.
Floyd has been tantalizing scouts for years with his God-given abilities, and now he’ll have the opportunity to make an impact in Arizona.
Playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald, Floyd should receive plenty of single-coverage looks in the Cardinals’ vertical attack. With teams paying more attention to Fitzgerald, Floyd will be the supreme beneficiary.
As such, he should be in line for a solid rookie campaign.
With the NFL seeing an increased production of high-impact tight ends (think Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham), Fleener could be next in line to make a similar impact.
And with him reuniting with Andrew Luck, Fleener will have some familiarity with his quarterback as he grasps the nuances of the NFL game.
Don’t be shocked if Fleener ends up as a top-10 tight end in fantasy leagues next year.
The underrated Hillman is in a prime position to carve out a niche for himself in the Broncos offense this year.
When you consider that Broncos incumbent starting running back Willis McGahee is getting up there in age and Knowshon Moreno perpetually underachieving, Hillman should have every chance to receive significant carries.
It may take a while for him make his mark, but at the end of the season, the Broncos will want to see what they have in Hillman and will likely give him a healthy dose of carries.
Because of that, Hillman is definitely a guy to covet in the later rounds of drafts.
With Mario Manningham taking his talents to San Francisco, Randle will be looked upon to fill the void as the Giants’ third receiving option.
And with Hakeem Nicks suffering a broken foot in minicamp (making his return for the regular season in doubt), Randle will have an even bigger opportunity to make a name for himself in the high-powered Giants offense.
Randle has all the tools to succeed in the NFL, and now that he is part of a winning group, he should have a less-than-difficult time transitioning to the pro game.
Be confident in taking Randle with a late pick because by the end of the year, he could have numbers similar to those that Manningham posted last year
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