Projecting Top 10 Impact Rookies Drafted Outside Round 1
The focal point of many NFL training camps will be the first-round picks on each roster, and for good reason. But as is often the case in the league, impact players must come from the remaining six rounds too.
Great general managers are able to identify talented players after the first round who, with a little work, could be impact players in the right scheme and position. The job of a general manager is more than hitting on first-rounders; it's about building a team through all seven rounds of the draft.
With training camps kicking off across the NFL, here is a look at 10 rookies drafted outside of Round 1 who will make some considerable noise this upcoming season.
10. Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns (Round 2, Supplemental Draft)
The Cleveland Browns have high hopes for wide receiver Josh Gordon after spending a second-round pick on him this past supplemental draft. But Gordon comes in behind schedule, and that has shown early in camp with a few dropped passes as he adjusts to a new quarterback in Brandon Weeden.
That said, Gordon has the size and speed to be an impact player on the outside.
9. Marvin McNutt, WR, Philadelphia Eagles (Round 6)
Iowa product Marvin McNutt fell in the draft due to a lack of elite speed, but he's the perfect fit for the Philadelphia Eagles' West Coast offense as a possession receiver. With Riley Cooper breaking a collarbone in camp, there is an opening for McNutt to rise up the depth chart.
#eagles WR Riley Cooper only out 6 wks w broken collar bone, but watch out for rookie WR Marvin Mcnutt.— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) July 29, 2012
8. Lavonte David, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Round 2)
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expecting rookie Lavonte David to step in right away as a starter at outside linebacker. He has the speed to be a dangerous chase-defender in the Tampa scheme and could be the best tackler on the Bucs roster right now. David is underrated in coverage, but Tampa fans will quickly see how good he is on all three downs.
Bucs rookie OLB Lavonte David, blessed with exceptional speed and quickness, has already earned a nickname from teammates in camp—Flash— Ira Kaufman (@IKaufmanTrib) July 30, 2012
7. Robert Turbin, RB, Seattle Seahawks (Round 4)
With the DUI arrest of running back Marshawn Lynch, the Seattle Seahawks could be looking for a replacement should Lynch be suspended by the team or the league as a repeat offender.
Even if Lynch stays on the team, without suspension, the Seahawks know they need to spread the carries around more this season. Robert Turbin has the ability to work between the tackles like Lynch, but he has extra burst to break free and take runs to the house.
Coach Pete Carroll on Robert Turbin: "There isn't any question he could be [the main running back.]"— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) July 30, 2012
6. Andre Branch, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (Round 2)
There was talk the Jaguars would go after Mario Williams in free agency or that they might draft an end in the first round, but they waited until the second and got a speedy, aggressive pass-rusher at a great value. Branch will line up opposite Jeremy Mincey, where he should see plenty of one-on-one matchups early in his career.
Mel Tucker said Andre Branch has tremendous upside and the arrow is up.— jaguarsinsider (@jaguarsinsider) July 28, 2012
5. Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis Colts (Round 3)
The selection of Coby Fleener in the second round received more attention, largely due to Fleener's connections to Andrew Luck from their days at Stanford, but Clemson's Dwayne Allen is the better all-around tight end. Allen and Fleener will spend their time in a lot of two-tight-end sets, and the smart money is on Allen becoming a huge value pick from the third round.
Still think the picks of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen for Andrew Luck, were some of the smartest picks of any franchise. Different TE types— Jayson Braddock (@JaysonBraddock) July 28, 2012
4. Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cleveland Browns (Round 2)
The Cleveland Browns had a wonderful 2012 draft. First-round picks Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden will be key parts of the offense now and in the future, but one of the better picks in the entire 2012 NFL draft happened in Round 2.
Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz flat-out dominated every pass-rusher he faced last season. And that includes first-rounder Nick Perry (USC) and potential 2013 first-rounders Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat (both Texas). Schwartz has reportedly looked great in camp early on.
3. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears (Round 2)
It is well-known that Alshon Jeffery was my No. 1 rated wide receiver in the 2012 draft. He fell to the second, largely due to concerns about speed, but so far, the Chicago Bears are seeing an excellent return on their investment.
Jeffery's downfield and red-zone ability have been on display in training camp. The expectation is that with Brandon Marshall drawing defenses his way, Jeffery will see one-on-one coverage—something he's built to beat with excellent size and jump-ball ability.
#Bears Rookie WR Alshon Jeffery is "catching everything in sight" in Bears camp.— Ryan Steele (@wcrtchicago) July 28, 2012
2. Amini Silatolu, OG, Carolina Panthers (Round 2)
You don't think of offensive guards as impact players—feel free to blame highlight shows and fantasy football—but make no mistake, Amini Silatolu can have a major impact if he can help keep Cam Newton's jersey clean and open up rushing lanes for the three-headed monster at running back in Carolina.
Silatolu is coming from tiny D-II Midwestern State, but he's catching on quickly in Panthers camp and looks like a rookie starter who will hold his position for a long, long time.
Rookie OL Amini Silatolu looking good in 1-on-1 blocking drills. Locked out vs DE Ryan Van Bergen.— Joe Person (@josephperson) July 25, 2012
1. Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Baltimore Ravens (Round 2)
When the Baltimore Ravens made Courtney Upshaw their top pick in the 2012 NFL draft, no one knew how much they would have to depend on him this season. With Terrell Suggs out, Upshaw has been asked to step into the starting lineup and produce immediately.
Upshaw showed the talent at Alabama to be a factor in Baltimore's hybrid defensive scheme. He's able to rush from the edge, but he can also stand up and play in the middle of the defense if needed. In a defense minus Suggs, the Ravens need a big impact from Upshaw.
Courtney Upshaw, the Ravens' top pick in April, has fared well in his first couple of days of training camp— Matt Vensel (@mattvensel) July 28, 2012
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