For every NFL rookie who has a nameplate above their locker, the first goal of his NFL career is complete: making his team’s 53-man roster.
As determined by draft position, that goal is an expectation for some rookies, with their real first goal being to earn immediate playing time and make an instant impact on the team. Throughout the league, however, many undrafted rookies have earned their way onto rosters.
Draft position no longer matters. Whether a player was a first-round pick or an undrafted free agent, every single rookie is trying to not only get onto the field, but also to help his team win football games once he gets there. If he cannot do that, he won’t have a nameplate for long.
Throughout the season, I will be keeping track of the league’s top-25 rookies with Bleacher Report's NFL Rookie Power Rankings.
So which rookies are making the most tangible impact for their team, exceeding expectations and/or leading award races? In this slideshow, we’ll take a look each week at which rookies have stood out up to that point in the season in order to help answer such questions.
In our preseason edition of the rankings, however, we’re going to take a look at which rookies have done the most this preseason to put themselves in positions to succeed. All rookies—from early draft picks validating their teams’ selections to undrafted rookies who have fought their way onto rosters—were considered.
This list is not intended to be a prediction of the top-25 rookies this season, as it will likely change drastically after the season’s first week. Instead, this slideshow is intended to highlight the exceptional rookie performances of the preseason, while looking ahead to how those performances might put certain players in positions to succeed in 2013.