Every NFL Team's Top Under-the-Radar Rookie to Watch Next Season
We all know that Eric Fisher and Dion Jordan are going to make an impact next year, but have you figured out which little-known rookies are going to make their mark in their debut season in 2013?
I bet you haven't even thought about it. We're all still busy drooling over the top picks and plugging Chance Warmack into the starting lineup.
I get it—it's hard not to get excited. But the real success of NFL drafts comes from unearthing later-round gems that find a way to help your team win games.
So click through to find out who is your team's Doug Martin or Alfred Morris.
Arizona Cardinals: WR Ryan Swope
Don't call him Wes Welker II—Ryan Swope is much more than just another clone.
He's a speedster who can stretch the field and seems to be a perfect fit for Bruce Arians' sling-it-down-the-field offense. The Arizona Cardinals are going to love this selection, especially since they nabbed him in the sixth round.
Besides running a 4.34 at the combine, Swope caught 252 passes for 3,117 yards and 24 touchdowns at Texas A&M. Here's betting he finds a way to be productive from the jump.
Atlanta Falcons: TE Levine Toilolo
The Atlanta Falcons converted a fourth-rounder into Tony Gonzalez's replacement. Levine Toilolo is a big boy (6'8") who will learn from the master while contributing to a Super Bowl favorite.
His stats at Stanford don't reflect his actual value; his 24 catches don't seem as bad when you remember that he was lining up next to Zach Ertz.
Toilolo is the kind of player who finds a way to get on the field and help a team win. That's the definition of an under-the-radar guy.
Baltimore Ravens: DE Kapron Lewis-Moore
The Baltimore Ravens aren't going through a rebuilding phase—they're renovating the entire foundation. And Kapron Lewis-Moore can be another brick in the basement.
The almost-300-pounder can eat up space and keep the linebackers clean to make plays. Just as he did for Manti Te'o, he’ll aid the second line of the defense immensely.
The Ravens are breaking in new linebackers. What better way to help them than a big run-stuffer up front.
Buffalo Bills: WR Da'Rick Rogers
From potential first-round pick to undrafted free agent, Da'Rick Rogers experienced the ultimate draft-stock fall. Now, we'll see how he responds.
If Rogers uses the slight as a motivational tool, he could be a beast from day one. This is a guy who torched the SEC to the tune of 67 catches for 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns.
There's also the concern that his off-the-field issues will resurface, proving the entire league correct in passing Rogers over. However, I'll take that chance since I just need him to shine for one year.
Carolina Panthers: DT Kawann Short
The Carolina Panthers ended the draft with only five selections, so there weren't many different directions to go. And it would seem odd to call a second-rounder an under-the-radar guy, but Star Lotulelei casts a large shadow over Kawann Short.
Soon, Short will shine too bright to be covered up. If there weren't questions regarding his effort, he would have been taken in the first night.
Short is capable of stuffing the run with his massive girth, but is agile enough to rush the passer as well. He will be a nice addition to a rapidly improving front seven.
Chicago Bears: OT Jordan Mills
The Chicago Bears reached for Kyle Long in the first, but they got an absolute steal in the fifth. Jordan Mills has the ability and talent to hold down the right side of the offensive line for the next eight years.
The Bears addressed the left tackle position by signing former New Orleans Saint Jermon Bushrod to a massive five-year deal. They currently have J'Marcus Webb slated to start at right tackle, but it won't be long before Mills makes a run at him.
Mills is a long-term investment who could pay big dividends in a year or two. This was a solid pick.
Cincinnati Bengals: WR Cobi Hamilton
The Cincinnati Bengals continue to stockpile wide receivers in an almost Matt Millen-esque manner. Well, except they aren't wasting top-10 picks and seem to be using some form of intelligence.
Cobi Hamilton put together an extremely productive senior year at Arkansas, amassing 90 catches for 1,335 yards and five scores.
He's also a big receiver who needs to use his size more. However, he could be a productive contributor before the year is over.
Cleveland Browns: OT Garrett Gilkey
Cleveland Browns fans are going to love Garrett Gilkey. He's a tough, mean SOB who loves the nasty side of trench warfare.
Gilkey isn't going to be a starter in 2013 and may have to spend a year on the practice squad. So I might have broken the rules of the slideshow, but I'm banking on no one calling me out on that.
However, give the Division II product a few years to transition and Cleveland will have a guy that can shore up the interior offensive line.
Considering how well most of the offensive line played last year, the Browns could be dangerous for years to come with a strong team up front.
Dallas Cowboys: CB B.W. Webb
Just two years ago, we all pointed and laughed at the Dallas Cowboys secondary. They were coughing up late leads and curbing any hope the Cowboys had of making postseason noise.
That's no longer the case, and fourth-rounder B.W. Webb is the last nail in the coffin for all those tired jokes.
Webb is going to excel in Dallas' zone scheme and will fortify the nickel spot by the end of the season.
Denver Broncos: OLB Quanterus Smith
The rich truly got richer. The Denver Broncos significantly improved a 13-3 team through free agency and the draft.
Part of that draft haul is linebacker Quanterus Smith. He's a speedy pass-rusher who can come in on third down and supply some of the pressure that left with Elvis Dumervil.
If he can learn a few tricks from Von Miller this offseason and camp, Smith could have a legitimate impact on the 2013 season. I'll put the over/under on his season sack total at 7.5.
Detroit Lions: OG Larry Warford
Ezekiel Ansah and Darius Slay are getting all the ink because they're sexy picks at positions of need.
I understand if you don't find 331-pound men sexy, but that's exactly what the Larry Warford selection is. He'll step in from the beginning and literally fill a huge hole on the offensive line.
The Detroit Lions now boast a great pair of guards, and new addition Reggie Bush will enjoy the rushing lanes that Warford will pave for him.
Green Bay Packers: RB Johnathan Franklin
I know you've heard of Johnathan Franklin, and very few cheeseheads aren't aware of the former UCLA running back's selection. But too many people are focusing on just Eddie Lacy.
Franklin has decent straight-line speed and an explosive burst to break through seams for long gains. He's also adept at catching the ball with 33 catches to his credit last season.
I'm not saying it's a "sure thing," but I would throw a few dollars on a bet saying that Franklin ends his rookie campaign with better numbers than his rookie classmate.
Houston Texans: CB Johnny Adams
The Houston Texans have found a steal in undrafted cornerback Johnny Adams.
Adams isn't one to shy away from a fight. His lack of size (5'10", 185 pounds) might be a bigger problem for offensive players, as they'll think they can manhandle him.
They'll be wrong. Additionally, not being drafted will put a chip on his shoulder, and since the Michigan State product already plays with a mean streak, one can only assume he will play with a vengeance now.
Indianapolis Colts: DE Bjoern Werner
How can a first-rounder be considered "under the radar"?
Well, how much chatter have you heard about Bjoern Werner? I'm willing to bet little to none.
Werner isn't as flashy as Ezekiel Ansah or Dion Jordan. However, you know what they say about making a Ferrari your "everyday" car...they're expensive to maintain and are unreliable.
Werner is more like a Corolla. He'll get the job done time after time.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Ace Sanders
The Jacksonville Jaguars might be the secret "winner" of the 2013 NFL draft. They added talent all over the place and picked up a pair of explosive playmakers.
While Denard Robinson garners more of the headlines, Ace Sanders will be the better professional next season. Sanders has excellent hands and a quick burst that will force defensive backs to play catch-up.
Oh, and he's an electrifying return man.
Kansas City Chiefs: TE Travis Kelce
Luckily, I don't have to worry about off-the-field concerns in this slideshow. I'm only trying to find those players who are overlooked and can have an immediate impact.
Travis Kelce is one such player. Just look at his last year at Cincinnati when he racked up eight touchdowns.
This kid is a big ball of talent who can handle the blocking duties as well as catching the ball. And we know that Alex Smith loves to use his tight ends—just look at Vernon Davis' numbers when Smith was the starter.
Miami Dolphins: RB Mike Gillislee
The Miami Dolphins couldn't enter the 2013 season with Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas as their top two running backs. That would be placing a lot of trust in a couple of players who hadn't earned it.
That's why Mike Gillislee is going to get plenty of opportunities next season. He's a physical blocker who averaged 5.3 yards per carry throughout his college career at Florida.
And he also added 16 receptions last year, meaning he should be named the third-down back at worst.
Minnesota Vikings: P Jeff Locke
I know. I took the easy way out.
But when the Minnesota Vikings took three guys in the first round, there wasn't much left that would be considered "under the radar."
Well, what's more incognito than a punter? Jeff Locke averaged 44.2 yards per punt at UCLA and has already pushed Chris Kluwe off the roster.
New England Patriots: OLB Jamie Collins
Jamie Collins is going to make Bill Belichick a happy man. He might even be responsible for Belichick earning back some of that defensive-genius reputation that has diminished in recent years.
Collins can line up anywhere on the field, as evidenced by his tenure as a safety, linebacker and defensive end at Southern Miss. That type of versatility will present matchup nightmares for offensive coordinators.
His 4.64 40 and 41.5" vertical belie an athletic freak who will add some much-needed pop to the New England Patriots pass rush.
Yes, the Hoodie is going to love this guy.
New Orleans Saints: WR Kenny Stills
Considering the New Orleans Saints only had five selections, the pickings are slim (Get it? Fine. I'll stick to "analysis").
Anyways, the best bet to have an immediate impact is Kenny Stills.
Terron Armstead is going to need a couple of years before he can be trusted to protect Drew Brees, and Johnathan Jenkins is another possibility, but Stills' ability to get deep and open is difficult to ignore.
New York Giants: DE Damontre Moore
The New York Giants are always finding additional pass-rushers while the rest of the league struggles to find any. It's starting to become concerning.
Damontre Moore might not be ready for the big time (cough, 12 reps, cough), but the Giants are going to give him plenty of chances. New York already lost Osi Umenyiora and is in real danger of losing Justin Tuck next season.
Moore has the athleticism to get around tackles, but his lack of strength could be an issue. Still, he's the most likely of the Giants bunch due to his situation and opportunity.
New York Jets: DT Sheldon Richardson
I'm a liar and a cheater. Excellent.
However, the New York Jets had three noteworthy picks and some projects that will have minimal impact in their first year. So I'm turning to the big man from Mizzou to carry me through, even if he was a first-rounder.
Sheldon Richardson is going to provide a valuable service for the Jets. His quickness will allow him to pierce the pocket while his almost 300 pounds will give him the girth needed to survive inside.
Oakland Raiders: DE David Bass
The Oakland Raiders got my favorite late-round pick (David Bass) and my favorite undrafted free agent (Conner Vernon). That's right—I love what the Raiders did.
Bass has everything you want in a pass-rusher. He's fast (4.69 40-yard dash at his pro day), quick (4.33 20-yard shuttle) and durable (50 straight starts).
Oh, and he racked up 39.5 sacks at Missouri Western State. Impressive numbers, even if it was Division II ball.
Philadelphia Eagles: CB Jordan Poyer
I still haven't figured out how Jordan Poyer lasted until the seventh round. I wonder if Chip Kelly didn't pull a fast one and remove his name from everyone else's boards.
Anyways, Poyer is a physical corner who finished as an All-American for Oregon State. He didn't measure well at the combine or his pro day, but the proof is in the tape.
And there is plenty of tape to suggest that he can take the nickel spot, where he can use his physicality to his advantage. He could also see time as a kick returner, making him a lock for the roster.
Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Markus Wheaton
No, I didn't attend Oregon State...the article just broke that way.
Much like it broke for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have to be thrilled to have nabbed Markus Wheaton in the third round.
Wheaton has nice speed (4.45 40) to match his reliable hands (227 career receptions, an OSU record). He can't fill Mike Wallace's shoes, but he can help fill some of the void left behind.
Safety Shamarko Thomas would have been another solid selection here.
St. Louis Rams: WR Stedman Bailey
Last year, while Sam Bradford threw for 21 scores, Stedman Bailey caught 25 touchdown passes (and in less games). You see where I'm going with this, right?
Of course you do. Bailey is going to provide that home run threat that the St. Louis Rams have sorely needed. And it doesn't hurt that Tavon Austin will be the one being examined under the microscope, freeing Bailey to surreptitiously go about his job. Well, at least initially.
San Diego Chargers: WR Keenan Allen
When you draft Manti Te'o, every other rookie is going to be flying under the radar. It's inevitable.
However, Keenan Allen will soon remind everyone why he had a first-round grade heading into April before an injured knee helped lead to his third-round fall. And the San Diego Chargers passing offense is a mess outside of Antonio Gates, meaning Allen will have a shot to put up numbers right away.
San Francisco 49ers: OLB Tank Carradine
With such a deep team, it's hard to find where the San Francisco 49ers rookies will earn much playing time. So I'm going to turn to a more notable selection because he is probably the only one who will contribute immediately.
Tank Carradine became the darling of the draft process (save for new teammate Marcus Lattimore), having gone from injury afterthought to second-round selection.
And it's with good reason. The man tears after quarterbacks with frightening speed and quickness. Carradine won't earn a starting role, but the coaches won't be able to keep him off the field.
Seattle Seahawks: NT Jesse Williams
Jesse Williams might not be "under the radar" because he was such a popular selection on many "steal" lists, but I'm not sure many Seattle Seahawks rookies will have an impact next season. This team was deep as it was, meaning very few first-year players will see the field.
However, Williams will break into the defensive line rotation as a backup. He will anchor the run defense, eating up blocks so the linebackers can do their thing.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: DT Akeem Spence
It's science—big defensive linemen and wide receivers have the easiest road to making an instant impact.
That's why you've seen so many of each position. Akeem Spence was taken in the fourth round and will immediately step into a backup role with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's not going to push Gerald McCoy or Gary Gibson for a starting position anytime soon, but Gibson will certainly lose a couple snaps this year to the rookie.
Tennessee Titans: DE Lavar Edwards
Fourth-rounder Brian Schwenke seems too obvious of a choice here, so we'll turn to the other side of the ball and spotlight Lavar Edwards.
Edwards will be used to give Kamerion Wimbley and Derrick Morgan a breather, but he'll also keep the pressure on offensive tackles, not affording them any plays off. He can help wear down an offensive line by creating a second wave of pressure.
Edwards won't be great, but he'll be a solid role player for years.
Washington Redskins: S Bacarri Rambo
Brandon Meriweather hasn't done anything to cement his role as Washington's starting strong safety. He had a solid game last season, but one good half in a year doesn't evoke much confidence.
To be fair, Bacarri Rambo hasn't done anything to land the starting gig either, but he has the range and ball skills to do everything needed of him in Washington. And he's cheaper.
Rambo will find himself on the field sooner rather than later in the 2013 season, and he may even find himself with a starting role by the end of it.