Success as a rookie in the NFL isn't determined by how high a player is taken in the draft. It's determined by the situation they find themselves them in once they hit the field.
At this time last year, no one was making a big deal about Alfred Morris. He just happened to lead all rookies in rushing in 2012 after he was selected by the Washington Redskins in the sixth round.
Three rounds into the 2013 draft, there are plenty of players that have found good landing spots. Places that will provide them with the right systematic fit, opportunity to play and environment to make an immediate impact right away.
Here are the three players with the best chance to put up big numbers and compete for the Rookie of the Year award.
Barkevious Mingo as a Sack Specialist in Cleveland
The Cleveland Browns will have a new-look defense under defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Considering they used the No. 6 selection on Mingo, the former LSU defensive end figures to be an important part of that defense.
At LSU, he was primarily used as a right defensive end that would contain athletic quarterbacks, but Horton will look to use Mingo as a pure pass-rusher destined to find quarterbacks. Considering Horton's Cardinals team racked up 38 sacks last season, he knows how to get pressure.
With Paul Kruger and Jabaal Sheard also coming off the edge in Cleveland, it's not unrealistic to expect at least eight sacks from him this season. Because he won't be seeing many double teams and is likely to only be on the field in passing situations, he should be able to remain fresh throughout games.
Eddie Lacy as a Go-To Back in Green Bay
As a rookie running back, does it get any better than going into an offense that has Aaron Rodgers running the show?
Lacy will have the opportunity to take over as the No. 1 running back on the depth chart. If he can become the starter, he'll have all the opportunity in the world to put up great numbers.
Much like Alfred Morris took advantage of defenses hesitant to allow Robert Griffin III to break free, Lacy will have the advantage of defenses that are spread thin by Green Bay's spread philosophies. Lacy runs with great power and isn't afraid to get tough yards between the tackles.
Lacy may have slipped a bit, but he can't be disappointed with where he ended up. He could make an already potent Packers offense even more scary.
DeAndre Hopkins as the Long-Awaited Complement to Andre Johnson
For years the Houston Texans game plan has looked something like this: Run Arian Foster. Run Foster. Run Foster. Throw to Andre Johnson. Repeat.
It's been effective to some degree. The Texans have been a playoff contender. But when they fall behind, they're done. Matt Schaub hasn't had enough weapons to throw them out of deficits.
Jacoby Jones, Kevin Walter and even tight end Owen Daniels have tried to become a reliable second option, but none have been dynamic enough to make the Texans passing game click. DeAndre Hopkins should be just what the Texans are looking for.
Hopkins has the size, speed and ball skills to take advantage of the quality targets he is sure to see thanks to Johnson and the Texans' strong run game.
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