2014 NFL Rookies Who Already Look Like Draft Steals

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2014 NFL Rookies Who Already Look Like Draft Steals
USA TODAY Sports
San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde is off to a strong start in preparation for his rookie season.

NFL personnel departments spent all year trying to determine which prospects held the most value in the 2014 draft, but the evaluation of those players didn't end with the selection meeting.

Now that each team has its rookie class assembled and is preparing for training camp, every franchise is continuing to reassess the value of its new players and determining which players might bring even more to the table than it expected.

Those players, whether they immediately rise to a high level of production or gradually emerge from obscurity, end up being labeled as "steals" if they sustain their success. While all first-round picks are expected to become integral players for their teams or risk becoming known as busts, there are always players who outperform the expectations typically associated with the slots in which they were drafted.

Until the regular-season games begin in September, we can't know who those steals will actually be. Even then, a player who stands out early could prove to be a flash in the pan who fizzles quickly, while other developmental projects will take more time to emerge but eventually become stars at a level that no one in the NFL expected they would reach.

Patience, however, is a dying principle in professional football. As the emphasis on immediate results increases around the league, so too does the market for prescient information on which rookies will quickly impact games despite being forced into extended periods of waiting during the draft.

The following 10 players are among those who, before training camp has even started, have already begun making names for themselves. If their early progress doesn't translate forward when the pads come on, their names will be quickly forgotten, but for now they stand out within a crowded pack as first-year players to watch this summer.

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