Fletcher Cox and the Next Generation of NFC East Studs

Steven Slivka@@StevenSlivkaCorrespondent IIIAugust 8, 2012

Fletcher Cox and the Next Generation of NFC East Studs

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    The NFC East is one of the most historic and competitive divisions in the history of the NFL.

    With a division full of proven veterans, the next class of rookies is ready to start 2012 with a bang.

    The regular season is only a month away, and first rounders will be putting their skills on full display as the preseason begins.

    Expectations for rookies are higher than ever, and seeing them succeed (at least by today's standards) becomes less surprising every year.

    With that in mind, these four rookies will take the NFL by storm in 2012.

David Wilson, New York Giants (RB)

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    After losing Brandon Jacobs in free agency, the New York Giants have helped fill the void at running back when they took David Wilson in the first round of this year's NFL draft.

    The rookie from Virginia Tech skipped his senior season as a Hokie and decided to turn pro after rushing for over 1,700 yards as a junior.

    His rushing yards nearly tripled from his sophomore to his junior year, and with a fumble-prone Ahmad Bradshaw carrying the load, Wilson will have a big impact on the Giants' offense.

    According to Steve Serby of The New York Post, Wilson has become a favorite among his teammates, something that has to please head coach Tom Coughlin.

    Along with running for big gains, Wilson also played special teams during his three seasons at Virginia Tech. His versatility makes him that much more valuable to a team that finished dead last in the league in rushing last season.

Morris Claiborne, Dallas Cowboys (CB)

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    During his final season at LSU, Morris Claiborne won the Jim Thorpe Award (country's best defensive back) while playing in the SEC, the toughest conference in the country.

    Claiborne's sophomore year as a Tiger featured 37 tackles and five interceptions.

    His junior year was even better, as he finished with 51 total tackles and six interceptions. His dangerous speed also helped him gain an average of nearly 29 yards after each interception, including taking one back to the house for a touchdown.

    Not only was Claiborne pivotal to the Tigers' secondary, he also played special teams and averaged over 25 yards per kickoff return in 2011.

    Look for the No. 6 overall pick to have an immediate impact on a Cowboys defense that was nothing more than mediocre last season.

Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles (DT)

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    After moving up three spots in this year's draft to grab defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, the Philadelphia Eagles are expecting him to have a smooth transition to the NFL.

    Cox had a spectacular year in 2011 at Mississippi State, finishing with 56 tackles and five sacks.

    Forty-one of his 56 tackles were for a loss, showing his ability to break through offensive lines with regularity.

    After holding his own in a stacked SEC conference, Cox was one of the most coveted defensive linemen in this year's draft.

    With defensive tackle Mike Patterson still recovering from brain surgery, Cox has a strong chance of being a starter once the season begins.

Robert Griffin III, Washingtin Redskins (QB)

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    With the exception of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III was the most coveted rookie of this year's draft class.

    The Heisman trophy-winning quarterback from Baylor finished his senior season with nearly 4,300 yards in the air, 700 yards on the ground, and 47 total touchdowns.

    With those kind of numbers, how could RG3 not be the fan favorite in Washington?

    The team hasn't had a solid quarterback since Mark Rypien, and in a division that has Tony Romo, Michael Vick and Eli Manning, the Redskins must have strong quarterback play this season if they want to contend for the NFC East crown.

    RG3 will undoubtedly be one of the most watched rookies this season. If he's able to make NFL defenses look as foolish as he did while in college, then the Redskins have to feel good about their new man under center.

    Washington will only go as far as Griffin takes them, and with an up-and-coming running game to help him out, this could finally be the year the Redskins make the postseason.