The 2013 NFL season may seem like an eternity from now, but with the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine set to take place Feb. 20-26 in Indianapolis, it's time to start scouting rookies for your 2013 fantasy roster.
With a continually increased emphasis on a rookie's role in a team's grand scheme, finding a player that will make an instant impact is a vital ingredient in how success is defined in today's NFL.
While all drafted rookies have potential, some are simply projects, while others are expected to deliver instant gratification to NFL GMs and fantasy owners alike.
Remember, NFL fantasy drafts can't be won with the first few picks, but they can be lost in the later rounds.
Keep these rookies in mind as the combine unfolds.
Texas hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end Alex Okafor may not be rated No. 1 in his class at his position, but he'll have the most impact in his inaugural NFL season.
Okafor has experience at both positions and is reliable in both the run and pass situations, which can't be said for all of his fellow classmates.
He's not the fastest man in his role in this draft, but sliding down the board to the late first round will do him some good.
With defenses focusing elsewhere. Okafor be able to roam free and get his feet wet in the NFL. He'll only improve during organized team activities and training camp, too.
He has enough strength to shed blocks and enough speed to get to the quarterback.
Don't forget about him when you're searching for an "Individual Defensive Player" sleeper.
Michigan State tight end Dion Sims may have left school prematurely, but his pure size is unavoidable to scouts.
To put it simply, he's huge.
At 6'5", 285 lbs, he'll be a force in the red zone in the near future.
While at Michigan State he just scratched the surface of his potential. Due to lingering injuries, he wasn't at 100 percent in his final collegiate season, but he showed enough to attract draft hype.
He may not be a team's No. 1 tight end as a rookie, but he won't be forgotten about when they make it to the red zone. He's the type of guy who could finish his first NFL season with 50 percent of his catches going for touchdowns.
A strong combine and he'll be a third-round selection. Keep him in mind as a sleeper when your fantasy draft rolls around.
Not much is being said about Florida running back Mike Gillislee quite yet, but as the draft nears, that won't be the case.
He has a couple things going for him that will strike intrigue from teams; the first is that he does a little bit of everything and he does it well. Gillislee can run, catch and block, and that isn't true for every back in the NFL.
The other point of interest is that he's from Florida, a state that has a history of producing multi-dimensional weapons that cause havoc in the NFL.
He only started for the talent-rich Gators his senior season, which means he's also taken fewer hits than many of his classmates.
In a sense, he has the perfect storm of positives on his side, which will make one NFL team look brilliant come late April.
Take a chance on him with your last pick.
Some may argue that Ryan Swope was aided by two top-notch quarterbacks while at Texas A&M in Ryan Tannehill and Johnny Manziel.
Then again, a trustworthy receiver always relaxes his quarterback and gives him an added boost of confidence.
Swope will bring just that to his NFL quarterback. Even though he won't be selected until the middle of the 2013 NFL draft, he'll see the field in his rookie season.
His work ethic will impress scouts and he'll utilize organized team activities to make the right impression on his new organization.
If by chance he's selected by the Miami Dolphins, he'll benefit from reuniting with Tannehill and offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, who was his head coach for three years at A&M.
Thanks to a steady pair of hands, he'll be valuable in the fantasy world.
Alabama running back Eddie Lacy is pure muscle, which will help him break tackles to the delight of frenzied fans at the NFL level.
Turning to Lacy to find paydirt in goal-line situations will become automatic for his NFL offensive coordinator.
His abundance of strength means he's durable, which will also be a hidden plus to fantasy owners.
Even though carries are dwindling around the league, he has the power for 20-plus touches. This means Lacy will be relied upon for a complete four quarters every Sunday.
Expect an impressive display in his rookie campaign.
Don't think twice to draft Lacy somewhere around the eighth round.
Let's not beat around the bush here—West Virginia's Tavon Austin is the most explosive man in his class.
His blazing speed negates his lack of height. Considering that he would be inserted into the game to block, his small stature may be a red flag to the opposition that the ball is coming to him. On the other hand, he could also become the best decoy in the league.
When he's on the field, he'll attract a member of the opposing secondary every time, linebackers won't be able to keep up with him.
It'll be interesting if he'll be able to withstand the punishment that the NFL dishes out every Sunday.
Nonetheless, fantasy fans everywhere will be willing to shoot the moon and take him sooner than later.
Expect him to go no later than the sixth round of your draft.
Thanks to the 2012 draft class being a quarterback gold mine, those teams that missed out on their opportunity for a franchise centerpiece will be reaching this season.
While many questionable quarterback selections will be made, the team that selects North Carolina State signal-caller Mike Glennon will not regret it.
At 6'7", he'll have no problem peering over the line and down the field at his receivers.
He may not look mobile, but his length makes him look slow. In reality, he has a long stride and covers enough ground to escape trouble.
He's gifted with a very strong arm. Glennon will help himself tremendously by showing scouts at the upcoming combine that he's sharp on the interview hot seat and can make the intermediate throw with ease.
If there's one thing NFL teams love, it's a quarterback who can air it out with precision. In that case, Glennon is their man.
Due to the current climate of the NFL draft and desperation for downtrodden teams to find a cornerstone, Glennon will start Week 1.
Out of any quarterback in this year's draft, he'll produce the most fantasy points.