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Buying or Selling Each First-Round NFL Rookie as Immediate Impact Player

Ryan McCrystalFeatured Columnist IIIJanuary 10, 2017

Buying or Selling Each First-Round NFL Rookie as Immediate Impact Player

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    Barring injury, every first round rookie will make some impact in 2013. But not every one will necessarily be a true impact player for his team. 

    The following slideshow breaks down whether each first rounder will be an immediate impact player based on the following criteria:

    • The rookie is expected to perform in a starting role for the majority of the season. 
    • The rookie is expected to be an upgrade for his team at his position. 
    • The rookie is expected to play at a level equal to or greater than an average starter for his position.

Eric Fisher, OT, Chiefs

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    Instant impact? Buy

    As soon as the Chiefs selected Eric Fisher he was penciled in as the starter at right tackle, where he should find immediate success. 

    Fisher has all the physical tools to eventually excel as a franchise left tackle, but is blocked by veteran Branden Albert. 

    Few right tackles possess Fisher's blend of strength and athleticism which should allow him to dominate, even as a rookie. 

Luke Joeckel, OT, Jaguars

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Earlier this summer Luke Joeckel told the Associated Press that he initially felt uncomfortable after switching to right tackle, but he has since settled nicely into his new role. 

    Joeckel is built to play left tackle, but will begin his career on the right side due to the presence of Eugene Monroe. 

    On the right side, Joeckel should frequently find himself in favorable matchups which will allow for immediate success. Blaine Gabbert has been frequently pressured in recent years, but the addition of Joeckel should significantly upgrade the Jaguars' pass protection. 

Dion Jordan, DE, Dolphins

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    Instant impact? Sell

    According to the Palm Beach Post, Dion Jordan is expected to begin his rookie year as a "third-down specialist," which will give him limited opportunities to make a significant impact. 

    Further complicating Jordan's ability to make an immediate impact is the fact that he is still recovering offseason shoulder surgery which has limited his ability to full participate in team workouts. 

    Jordan is a rare physical specimen and has all the tools necessary to develop into a star, but it may take some time before he's prepared to be the type of three-down player the Dolphins ultimately hope he becomes. 

Lane Johnson, OT, Eagles

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Lane Johnson isn't nearly as polished as Fisher or Joeckel, but the Eagles have placed him in a position to find immediate success. 

    By beginning his career at right tackle, Johnson won't be forced to face the same pressure as a left tackle and it should allow for a smooth transition to the NFL

    Given his relative lack of experience Johnson will undoubtedly experience some growing pains but his raw athleticism should allow for him to recover from his mistakes and provide Michael Vick with steady protection on the right side. 

Ziggy Ansah, DE, Lions

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Ziggy Ansah may be relatively new to the game of football, but don't mistake his inexperience for an inability to make an instant impact. 

    Ansah has the combination of size, strength and speed to impact every aspect of the game and should excel immediately under Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham. 

    His ability to use the speed rush from the wide 9 position and the bull rush when lined up in a more traditional position gives Ansah a rare repertoire for a young pass-rusher and the Lions will likely take full advantage of this versatility. 

Barkevious Mingo, LB, Browns

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    Instant impact? Sell

    After Barkevious Mingo struggled to make a consistent impact during his final collegiate season at LSU, it's tough to imagine him making a smooth transition to the NFL.

    Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton will likely take advantage of Mingo's speed and put him to use as a situational pass-rusher, but Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger and possibly Quentin Groves will all be ahead of him on the depth chart. 

    Mingo may see an increased workload as the season progresses, but he will likely begin the season by playing almost exclusively in obvious passing situations. 

Jonathan Cooper, OG, Cardinals

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Now that Jonathan Cooper is finally under contract, the Cardinals can officially plug him in as their starting left guard. 

    Cooper is a freak athlete for an interior lineman and should immediate excel in Arizona, providing protection for Carson Palmer and also opening up holes in the Cardinals' running game. 

    For such a rare prospect at his position, it's not unreasonable to expect Cooper to play at a near Pro Bowl level during his rookie year. 

Tavon Austin, WR, Rams

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Tavon Austin may not be the traditional No. 1 receiver that Sam Bradford was hoping the team to land this offseason, but he is a versatile playmaker and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will have fun developing ways to get the football in Austin's hands. 

    Austin will likely line up in the slot and in the backfield when he's on the field and will primarily be used in a short passing attack, which will allow him to make things happen with his feet after the catch. 

    He certainly isn't the next A.J. Green or Julio Jones, but Austin has the tools to make a Percy Harvin-like impact in St. Louis. 

Dee Milliner, CB, Jets

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    Instant impact? Sell

    In a tweet by Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Dee Milliner is "100 percent back" from his shoulder surgery which has limited his offseason workouts. But even a healthy Milliner has a tough battle ahead of him with Kyle Wilson for the No. 2 cornerback role. 

    If Milliner fails to win the starting job, his impact may be minimal early in his career. Milliner has the tools to be a shutdown corner, but he lacks the elite quickness to excel in the nickel role. 

    Milliner will be an impact player eventually, but it won't necessarily happen in 2013. 

Chance Warmack, OG, Titans

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Chance Warmack will be plugged into an immediate starting role at right guard, a position which he should hold for years to come. 

    It remains to be seen how well Warmack fits into the Titans blocking scheme, but his raw talent should allow him to find success in just about any system. 

    Warmack is a traditional power run-blocker, which isn't necessarily what the Titans needed with Jake Locker and Chris Johnson in the backfield. But Mike Munchak and his staff should be able to find ways to put Warmack in positions to succeed immediately. 

D.J. Fluker, OT, Chargers

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    Instant impact? Sell

    D.J. Fluker should be an immediate upgrade over the revolving doors the Chargers started at right tackle in 2012, but he is still very raw and will struggle with veteran pass-rushers. 

    Due to his enormous size, Fluker should be an effective run-blocker from the time he steps onto the field but there will be some growing pains. 

    Philip Rivers deserves better protection than he has received in recent years, and Fluker may eventually provide that, but it could be a year or two before he reaches his full potential. 

D.J. Hayden, CB, Raiders

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    Instant impact? Sell

    Before any expectations can be set for D.J. Hayden, first he needs to get on the field. 

    After vomiting his way through mini-camp in May and undergoing follow-up surgery to his heart injury suffered last season, Hayden has yet to be cleared for contact. 

    According to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, there is no plan as to when Hayden will be cleared for contact and it is unclear whether or not he will be ready for the season opener. 

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Jets

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    Instant impact? Buy

    According to the Jets official website, Richardson lined up in just about every position on the defensive line during offseason workouts, so it remains to be seen how exactly he will fit into the defense. 

    However, the Jets made it clear that Richardson fits into the team's plans in 2013 when they moved Quinton Coples to linebacker immediately following the draft. 

    Richardson is an impressive athlete for his size and should immediately find success in the Jets' 3-4 scheme. 

Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Star Lotulelei likely won't earn a lot of headlines during his rookie year, but he will make a noticeable difference on the Panthers' run defense. 

    While he isn't a flashy interior pass-rusher, Lotulelei has the tools to be an elite run-stuffer and should provide just enough pass rush to be a well-rounded rookie and arguably the Panthers top interior lineman in 2013. 

    Lotulelei will likely start at nose tackle in the Panthers' 4-3 scheme and should be a three-down lineman. 

Kenny Vaccaro, S, Saints

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Kenny Vaccaro is expected to step into an immediate starting role for the Saints, and according to Vaccaro his rookie year is already getting off to a great start. 

    Vaccaro recently told the New Orleans Times-Picayune "Everybody keeps bumping me like keep doing your thing and keep balling... Real recognize real."

    Vaccaro still needs to officially win a starting safety job over either Roman Harper or Michael Jenkins, but he should be able to force his way onto the field and make an immediate impact in the Saints' secondary. 

EJ Manuel, QB, Bills

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    Instant impact? Sell

    Even if EJ Manuel wins the starting job, it's difficult to imagine him morphing from a constant disappointment at Florida State to an instant-impact player in Buffalo. 

    The raw physical tools are there for Manuel to develop into a quality starter, but he is a project and there will be an obvious learning curve as he works his way through his rookie year. 

    Few, if any, teams have a worse quarterback situation than the Bills for the immediate future and expectations for Manuel's rookie year should be set low.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Steelers

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    Instant impact? Sell

    The Steelers will find a way to get Jarvis Jones onto the field, but he will likely back up Jason Worilds during his rookie year. 

    Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert does an excellent job filling holes before they open up, and the selection of Jones was another example of a great draft strategy. 

    Jones gives the Steelers immediate depth and a future starter, but his instant impact will be minimal. 

Eric Reid, S, 49ers

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Safeties are typically able to make a smooth transition to the NFL and Eric Reid has the added benefit of landing on one of the NFL's best defensive units. 

    Reid will be playing behind one of the game's elite pass rush units and sharing a secondary with veterans Donte Whitner and Carlos Rogers. 

    Given Reid's talent and the veteran leadership around him, he should be capable of putting together an impressive rookie season. 

Justin Pugh, OT, Giants

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    Instant impact? Buy

    According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York, the Giants are expecting Justin Pugh to compete with David Diehl and James Brewer for the starting job at right tackle. 

    Given the recent struggles of both Diehl and Brewer, Pugh should be considered the front runner for the position and should offer the Giants a significant upgrade. 

    Pugh played left tackle at Syracuse but is a prototypical right tackle for the pro game and should excel immediately. 

Kyle Long, OG, Bears

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    Instant impact? Sell

    With just five career starts to his credit at Oregon, it's tough to expect much from Kyle Long in his rookie year in Chicago.

    Long will have an opportunity to win the starting job at right guard, but more by default than anything else. 

    Given his inexperience, the Bears should simply hope for Long to hold his own and not be a liability in pass protection. He's a developmental prospect and growing pains should be expected early and often. 

Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals

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    Instant impact? Sell

    In a different situation Tyler Eifert would be an easy decision to "buy" but his impact in Cincinnati will be limited due to the presence of Jermaine Gresham. 

    The Bengals will definitely find ways to get Eifert the ball, and have already toyed around with the possibility of lining him up at receiver according to the Columbus Dispatch. However, there are only so many balls to go around and with Gresham and A.J. Green in the fold, Eifert's immediate impact will be limited. 

Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Desmond Trufant will be plugged into an immediate starting role for the Falcons and may be their best cornerback by season's end. 

    Asante Samuel is still an effective starter, but he's not the Pro Bowl caliber talent he once was and it's clear that Trufant is the future in Atlanta. 

    Trufant has the raw athleticism to be a true cover corner and should excel under the guidance of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. 

Sharrif Floyd, DT, Vikings

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    Instant impact? Buy

    The Vikings have the depth on the defensive line to put Sharrif Floyd into positions in which he can succeed immediately. However, he will likely play a reserved role as a situational interior pass-rusher during his rookie year which makes it difficult to consider him an instant-impact player. 

    Floyd is somewhat one dimensional at this stage of his career and struggles at times in run defense. Fortunately for the Vikings, Floyd can be used in a rotation with Kevin Williams, allowing both to stay fresh and be into favorable matchups. 

Bjoern Werner, LB, Colts

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Bjoern Werner still needs to beat out Erik Walden for the starting outside linebacker job opposite Robert Mathis. However, Werner is expected to win the job and should find immediate success in the Colts' hybrid defense. 

    Werner's ability to play standing up or with his hand in the dirt makes him the perfect versatile player for Chuck Pagano's system, and the type of player they were missing at the position in Pagano's first year in Indianapolis. 

    Werner isn't necessarily an elite pass-rusher, but he is extremely well rounded and should be an above-average starter from day one. 

Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Xaiver Rhodes will step into an immediate starting role opposite Chris Cook at cornerback in the Vikings' secondary. 

    While Rhodes still has room to grow as a cover corner, he'll be put into positions to succeed in Minnesota due to the depth in their secondary. 

    Cook will handle the No. 1 receivers while Josh Robinson will handle the nickel corner duties and the smaller, quicker receivers which the 6'2" Rhodes would struggle to stay with on the outside. 

Datone Jones, DE, Packers

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Datone Jones is a prototypical 3-4 end and will fit perfectly into Dom Capers scheme in Green Bay. 

    The Packers have impressive depth along the defensive line, but Jones will likely beat out C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal for a starting job opposite B.J. Raji. 

    The depth will help keep Jones fresh and allow the Packers to once again have one of the more dominant front sevens in the game. 

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans

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    Instant impact? Buy

    DeAndre Hopkins' impact will be limited somewhat by his place on the depth chart behind Andre Johnson, but as the Texans' No. 2 receiver he will still see plenty of balls thrown in his direction. 

    Hopkins was the most polished wide receiver prospect in this year's draft class and possess the hands and route running skills to step into an immediate starting role for a playoff-caliber team. 

    Don't expect Pro Bowl type numbers from Hopkins, but he will be a quality No. 2 receiver and a significant upgrade over what Johnson has been supported by in recent years. 

Sylvester Williams, DT, Broncos

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    Instant impact? Sell

    Sylvester Williams definitely has the potential to earn a starting role in Denver, but he'll need to beat out Kevin Vickerson and Terrance Knighton for playing time. 

    Williams has already been hobbled by a knee injury during camp, and he cannot afford to miss any time if he hopes to win a starting gig. 

    While he will likely find success as part of a defensive line rotation, Williams' impact may be limited during his rookie year. 

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Vikings

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    Instant impact? Sell

    The Vikings will give Cordarrelle Patterson an opportunity to win the starting job opposite Greg Jennings, but he lacks the experience to make a significant immediate impact. 

    Patterson's impact will likely be limited to making plays after the catch due to his flawed route running skills at this stage of his career. 

    While he'll make his share of highlight-reel plays, Patterson is too much of a developmental prospect to make a consistent impact during his rookie year. 

Alec Ogletree, LB, Rams

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    Instant impact? Buy

    Alec Ogletree is a prototypical weak-side linebacker and should immediately excel in the Rams' 4-3 defense. 

    His raw coverage skills rival any linebacker in the league which gives the Rams the rare ability to send a linebacker into man coverage with just about any pass-catching tight end they encounter. 

    Ogletree needs to stay out of trouble, but as long as his off-field issues don't distract from his play, he will be an immediate difference maker in St. Louis. 

Travis Frederick, OL, Cowboys

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    Instant impact? Buy

    The Cowboys took a lot of heat in reaching for Travis Frederick in the first round but they ultimately landed an immediate starter at one of the most significant areas of need. 

    Frederick will start at either center or guard and will give the Cowboys a significant upgrade in both their pass protection and interior run blocking. 

    As a physical presence inside, Frederick should immediately help stabilize the Cowboys offensive line. 

Matt Elam, S, Ravens

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    Instant impact? Buy

    The Ravens are going to plug the versatile Matt Elam into an immediate starting role and his presence should help ease the pain of losing Ed Reed. 

    Elam may not be the next Reed, but his ability to step up against the run and also contribute in coverage will allow him to fill a similar role in the Ravens' defense. 

    Few rookies are in a better position to succeed and Elam may be capable of playing at a Pro Bowl caliber level right from the start.

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