For draftniks and fans that hold a special place in their hearts for the NFL draft, the ensuing preseason and National Football League campaign is always an exhibition of sorts. It can be humbling and educational as the reality of a favorite college player or prospect is riddled with the adversity that often comes in the first year.
The opposite can also materialize when a guy that you followed closely in college or believed in strongly during the evaluation process makes good on his potential, either forcing his way into a significant role or capitalizing on an early opportunity that arises. Either way, those readers, fans and analysts who make rookies and the draft their business always bring a keen interest to each succeeding NFL season.
Some recent rookies that have amazed us with their first-year production include Aldon Smith who, after going seventh overall in 2011 out of the University of Missouri, nearly eclipsed Jevon Kearse's fairly long-standing rookie sack record. Staying in 2011, Cam Newton's performance has to be considered a coup despite the fact that he went No. 1 overall.
All he did was prove doubters wrong, yours truly included, about his passing aptitude whilst breaking the rookie marks for passing yards in a game and a season along with the all-time standard for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.
It was only a year earlier too in 2010 when we witnessed Sam Bradford establish rookie bests for passing attempts, completions and consecutive passes without an interception. Indeed, I think that most people in the industry, both on the football operations and media sides of the aisle, would agree that we are in the midst of an era of rookie prowess.
There are simply more players each year that are arriving to the National Football League armed with higher readiness levels physically, mentally and professionally; the latter point speaking to work ethic, commitment to preparedness and consistency.
This slideshow highlights 10 rookies in 2012 that I believe will make a heavy mark with their playing time and productivity. Some are relative household names but a few predictions may surprise some readers.