NFL: Top 10 Impact Rookies in 2008

Gary LloydSenior Analyst IMay 11, 2008

It's probably a bit early to compile an impact rookie list, but I figured what the heck.

It'll at least elicit some discussion among you NFL gurus.

So, here goes.

10. James Hardy, Buffalo Bills WR: I like Hardy to win the wide receiver spot alongside Lee Evans. With Evans' ability to stretch a defense and go deep, Hardy, at 6-foot-5, should have no problems catching some balls across the middle and in the end zone.

9. Keith Rivers, Cincinnati Bengals LB: Rivers will start right away at linebacker for the struggling Bengals, and could be higher on this list. Rivers could have a rookie season similar to that of DeMeco Ryans in his first year with the Texans.

8. Kevin Smith, Detroit Lions RB: Running back isn't the strongest position for the Lions, so Smith should see adequate playing time early on in his career. I expect some long touchdown runs from Smith during his rookie campaign.

7. Jake Long, Miami Dolphins OL: Sure, Long was the first pick of the draft, but this team has so much more to worry about. He'll start from Day One at left tackle, but the Dolphins will still struggle all season.

6. Malcolm Kelly, Washington Redskins WR: I think Kelly will have an impact similar to that of James Hardy of the Bills. He should push the more experienced receivers for playing time, and will get possession receptions with down-the-field threat Santana Moss playing alongside him.

5. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders RB: McFadden will put up solid yards per carry numbers, but won't get as many carries as Adrian Peterson did a year ago. Justin Fargas and Michael Bush will be getting carries, too.

4. Jerod Mayo, New England Patriots LB: Mayo will definitely find his way onto the field as a rookie in New England's 3-4 defense. He'll make his playing time worthwhile, no matter how much he gets. I've learned not to bet against the Patriots' personnel.

3. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers RB: McFadden was all the talk at the running back position during the 2008 draft. However, I think Stewart will have a more immediate impact for a Panthers squad that is thin at the running back position. He could rush for 1,000 yards in his rookie campaign.

2. Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City Chiefs DT: The Chiefs were one of the worst teams in the NFL last year in terms of rushing yards allowed. Adding Dorsey immediately fixes that, and he'll come up with a lot of stops in the middle for K.C.

1. Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints DT: This pick could be somewhat of a stretch, but I'm really high on Ellis. The Saints were solid against the run in 2007, but the addition of Ellis is huge. I think he'll lead all rookies in tackles for loss.