An impact rookie is the greatest gift an NFL team can find. Based on the wage scale for first-year players compared to longtime veterans, you are going to get the most bang for your buck with rookies.
The 2013 NFL draft is loaded with talented playmakers who can step onto the field from day one and be superstars.
As we know, things won't work out for all the talented players available. So, as the postseason comes to an end and the final draft order gets set, here are the rookies that we love to play big in 2013.
Impact rookies are in italics
1. Kansas City Chiefs: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Smith isn't worthy of the No. 1 overall pick, though he would hardly be the worst quarterback ever taken at this spot. He has upside, but he needs to work on not always throwing the ball as hard as he can.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M
The Jaguars were pathetic at sacking the quarterback in 2012, recording just 20 in 16 games. Moore is the best and most explosive playmaker on the defensive line in this class.
3. Oakland Raiders: Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah
The Raiders are as soft as any team in the NFL. They need to establish some semblance of an identity, particularly on the defensive line. Lotulelei is arguably the top prospect in this draft class. He's a big-bodied, run-stopping defensive tackle. It is time to change the culture in Oakland.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M
Regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Eagles next season, that offensive line is in desperate need of at least one significant upgrade. Whether it is through the draft or free agency, something has to be done to provide some relief right away.
Johnny Manziel got all the accolades at Texas A&M, but he wouldn't have been able to do nearly as much as he did without Joeckel up front. He is a rock in blocking for the run, with enough upside in pass protection to turn into an All-Pro for the next decade.
It would be an upset to see the Eagles pass on a player who is as perfect a fit for this franchise as Joeckel. If you want to be a physical, smashmouth team, the offensive line has to be your foundation. Joeckel can and will start from day one.
5. Detroit Lions: Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
It is time for the Lions to start building the back half of their defense after investing so much time and resources into the line. Jones is the best linebacker in this class, with the ability to be a difference-maker as a pass-rusher or in coverage.
6. Cleveland Browns: Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU
The Browns used two first-round picks last year on offensive skill players. Now, they need to work on rebuilding the defensive front. Mingo continues to be more about potential than results, but the upside is so high that if you hit, you have a star for the next decade.
7. Arizona Cardinals: Chance Warmack, G, Alabama
While guard is not the most pressing need the Cardinals have on the offensive line, that whole unit is such a mess that the franchise would be better off blowing the whole thing up and starting from scratch.
Warmack is the best offensive line prospect, regardless of position, in this draft. He is a monster to move, though he does show a little more acumen in opening holes in the running game than in pass protection.
Regardless of whatever minor weaknesses he has right now, Warmack has first-team All-Pro written all over him. If you saw the way Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon ran in the BCS Championship Game, you know what Warmack can do.
8. Buffalo Bills: Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Te'o was exposed in the BCS Championship Game, as was the rest of Notre Dame's defense. But he is still a great open-field tackler who moves wherever the ball goes. He will add a lot to a terrible Buffalo defense.
9. New York Jets: Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
While Werner is best utilized in a 4-3 scheme, he does have the skills necessary to play as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. He will need to work on dropping back, but Rex Ryan loves players who come in ready to play and can get after the quarterback.
10. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama
With his stock soaring right now, Milliner might not make it to this spot by the time April rolls around. For now, the Alabama cornerback will remain at No. 10, because the Titans were dreadful against the pass last season and need to find a new impact player in the secondary.
11. San Diego Chargers: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
Ogletree is a superior talent to Manti Te'o. But where Te'o is more refined and closer to being NFL-ready, Ogletree still has a long way to go before he reaches his ceiling. The Chargers need someone they can build around on defense, even if that player has some risk attached.
12. Miami Dolphins: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Now that the Dolphins know Ryan Tannehill can handle himself in the NFL, it is time to build a line around him so that he actually has time to show off all that he can do. Cooper is an aggressive, physical blocker who will make defenders know his name.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
As Seattle has shown this season, big cornerbacks who can play the ball will do wonders for a defense. Given the need that Tampa Bay has in the secondary, it will take anything it can get.
Banks is a 6'2", so he shouldn't have any problems matching up with the big receivers in the NFL. He does need to work on his pure coverage skills, but because his instincts are so good, he should find himself in the top half of the first round.
14. Carolina Panthers: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
After hitting big with first-round pick Luke Kuechly at linebacker last year, the Panthers desperately need to address that gaping hole in the middle of their defensive line. Hankins is a better pure pass-rusher than Lotulelei, though he isn't as strong against the run or as good an athlete.
15. New Orleans Saints: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
Ansah played linebacker in college, but he looks the part of a dominant pass-rusher in a 4-3 scheme in the NFL. The Saints had one of the worst defenses in NFL history, so there is not a quick fix, but you have to start investing in playmakers on that side of the ball.
16. St. Louis Rams: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Sam Bradford had an outstanding season in 2012, especially when you consider how bad the offensive line in front of him was. Fisher is a long player, and he uses his limbs to prevent defenders from swimming around him.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
The foundation of the Steelers defense is starting to crack. This franchise needs to get younger in order to avoid situations like 2012, where everyone got hurt and there was no one to step in. Jenkins isn't the sexiest defensive tackle in the draft, but he gives a toughness and edge back to the middle of the line that Casey Hampton can't always bring.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Vaccaro is one of the most versatile players in this year's draft, which will make him an ideal fit for a Cowboys team that needs to find an identity on defense.
The Cowboys desperately need help at safety, where they lack an impact talent who can disrupt the game in pass coverage and stopping the run. They need someone who is going to get his uniform dirty when he hits.
Listed as a safety, Vaccaro can move to cornerback in nickel situations and is capable of handling either safety position. In a weak year for safeties, he is going to be a superstar for a long time.
19. New York Giants: Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon
With Osi Umenyiora likely gone, the Giants will have a vacancy to fill on the defensive line. Jordan's stock could drop fast if his shoulder injury, which Tony Pauline of Sports Illustrated reported will require surgery, prevents him from working out for teams:
Can now confirm Dion Jordan/OLB-DE/Oregon will have surgery to repair a torn labrum..— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 8, 2013
If all is right, Jordan is a potential steal at this spot in the draft. He has great size and freakish strength to just barrel over much bigger offensive lineman, with the speed to track down quarterbacks.
20. Chicago Bears: Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse
The Bears need to hit on an offensive lineman sooner rather than later, or else Jay Cutler is going to be one snap away from missing an entire season. Pugh is not the most explosive lineman you will see, but he is a strong, solid football player who will step in and start right away.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
The Bengals need to find another receiver who can complement A.J. Green, Patterson is an unknown because there is not a lot of film to judge him by, but he is 6'3" with incredible hands and explosive speed off the line of scrimmage.
22. St. Louis Rams (From Washington Redskins): Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Despite an inconsistent season, which can be partly attributed to inconsistent quarterback play, Hunter still possesses the raw tools that made him one of the receivers to watch this season. The Rams need someone who can go down the field and open things up on offense.
23. Minnesota Vikings: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The Vikings have an old defensive line that needs an infusion of youth, both to prevent them from breaking down in a hurry and to rejuvenate some of the players up front. Richardson has great strength up the middle, performing well against the run and as a pass-rusher.
24. Indianapolis Colts: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
Even though they made the playoffs, the Colts still have a number of holes that have to be filled before they can become Super Bowl contenders. Offensive line is one of the biggest problem areas.
Adding Fluker to a young, still-developing team will help make Andrew Luck get more comfortable in the pocket instead of having to run for his life more than he should.
25. Green Bay Packers: Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn
Not a prototypical 3-4 defensive end, but good enough to handle it, Lemonier gives the Packers another strong pass-rusher off the edge that they need. Colin Kaepernick picked them apart in the playoffs because they couldn't create pressure without sending extra defenders.
26. Denver Broncos: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
A heartbreaking end to the season leaves the Broncos scrambling for answers. While the defense did take strides forward in 2012, there is still a serious lack of production up the middle on the defensive line. Short is a disruptive, albeit inconsistent, monster at defensive tackle.
27. Seattle Seahawks: Shariff Floyd, DT, Florida
The run on defensive linemen continues, though the Seahawks are always one of the most unpredictable teams in the draft. Floyd can shift from defensive end and tackle if needed, but he is the best run-stopping tackle remaining at this spot.
28. Houston Texans: Logan Ryan, CB, Rutgers
Houston's secondary was exposed late in the season, both because of injuries and the defensive line wasn't creating the same pressure it was when the team had the best record in the NFL.
Ryan is not an elite talent, which isn't a shock this late in the draft, but he just makes plays whenever the ball is thrown his way.
29. Baltimore Ravens: Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
The Ravens could look for an inside linebacker to replace the departing Ray Lewis, if that's possible. But without a good one available here, Hubbard becomes the choice. He is a tremendous 3-4 linebacker, ready to contribute as a pass-rusher or in coverage.
30. San Francisco 49ers: Bennie Logan, DT, LSU
The 49ers need to start thinking about contingency plans for when Justin Smith isn't around anymore. Logan obviously has a long way to go to reach that level, but giving him time to learn this system is going to benefit him and the team in a couple of years.
31. New England Patriots: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor
Williams is the big-body receiver that we always say the Patriots need to draft, despite the success of this offense and the versatility of the tight ends. Of course, since it is Bill Belichick, a trade out of the first round would not be a shock.
32. Atlanta Falcons: Alex Okafor, DE, Texas
The Falcons defense is still not where it needs to be, though the offense has gotten a lot better in recent years to make this team a Super Bowl contender. Atlanta needs to find speedy pass-rushing defensive ends who can attack the quarterback.
Okafor is a great two-dimensional player who can be a solid contributor as a rookie, but is more likely to explode in his second season with experience.
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