With the opening kickoff for the 2011 NFL Season just days away, there are some highly anticipated rookies. especially Julio Jones, that are looking to make an immediate impact. Franchises simply cannot miss on their draft picks, especially their first rounders, as the future of their teams lie in their hands.
This slideshow will preview 10 rookies that are almost surely expected to improve their team this season. If I missed anybody, feel free to give your thoughts in the comments section!
The Philadelphia Eagles used their first-round draft pick on Baylor guard Danny Watkins with their 23rd overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Big man out of Baylor is slated to be the starter, and is expected to ensure that franchise quarterback, Michael Vick, is protected throughout the year.
The former hockey player and firefighter is a bit older than most of the rookies, but that could help his mental makeup, and picking up the blocking schemes in head coach. Andy Reid's offense
The Washington Redskins needed to bolster their pass rush, and they addressed that need with the 16th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, selecting the former Purdue Boilermaker, Ryan Kerrigan.
Kerrigan had an extremely productive collegiate career in which he racked up 210 tackles, 32.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. Additionally, he was awarded the 2010 Big 10 Defensive player of the year award and the Big 10 Defensive Lineman of the year award.
His skill set across from former first rounder, Brian Orakpo, will wreak havoc on opposing offenses in the Redskins 3-4 scheme.
Patrick Peterson suprisingly sled down some draft boards, falling perfectly to the Arizona Cardinals, allowing them to trade fellow cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Peterson, once thought to be the first cornerback to ever be selected with the first overall pick, had an outstanding career at Louisiana State, making 135 tackles, three for a loss, seven interceptions, and a forced fumble.
He also was a force in special teams, returning 32 kicks for an average of 29.1 yards-per-return, and returned 27 punts for 424 yards and two scores.
The Washington Redskins needed another wide receiver other than Santana Moss or Anthony Armstrong, so they went ahead and snagged former Miami Hurricane wideout Leonard Hankerson in the third-round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
As a Hurricane, Hankerson hauled in 134 passes for 2,160 yards, 22 scores, and a respectable 16.1 yards-per-reception average.
With Denver Broncos' cornerback Champ Bailey aging, and the release of Perrish Cox, as well as the aging of safety Brian Dawkins, the Broncos needed an upgrade in their secondary.
Rahim Moore fell right to them in the second-round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and through preseason he has already proven his worth.
The former UCLA product had a productive career, making 186 tackles, six for a loss, 14 interceptions, and deflecting 29 passes. Moore has great speed and ball skills, and will improve the Broncos' pass defense ten-fold.
Sam Bradford was the St. Louis Rams' No. 1 overall choice in the 2010 NFL Draft, and we all know that a young quarterback's best friend is a tight end. That tight end happens to be Lance Kendricks out of Wisconsin, who was one of the nations top-ranked tight ends prior to the draft.
In his career as a Badger, he caught 78 passes for 1,160 yards and eight touchdowns, being named as a Big 10 1st Team All American.
Expect big things from Kendricks, as the wide receiver situation in St. Louis is still unsettled.
The Buffalo Bills had the worst run defense in the league last year, and in order to improve on that, they selected Alabama's nose tackle Marcell Dareus. Dareus, who reported to camp at 6'3" 343 pounds, has displayed the speed, power, and explosiveness that made him worthy of the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
In two seasons at Alabama, Dareus made 66 tackles, 20 of which were for a loss, while making 11 sacks, and earned the Most Valuable Player award in the Crimson Tide's 2010 BCS National Championship.
Mark Ingram fell quickly down the draft board, however he landed in the perfect situation with the New Orleans Saints, who traded up to select the former Heisman Trophy winner in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Ingram was the primary back in Alabama's offensive attack, rushing 572 times for 3,261 yards, scoring 42 times, averaging almost six yards-per-carry. He is solid in pass blocking, and can catch out of the backfield as well, displayed by his 60 receptions for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
The Atlanta Falcons traded away pretty much all of their draft picks to select Alabama's wide receiver, Julio Jones, with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. After his crazy combine results, which reportedly were on an injured foot, he seemed to be a lock as a top-10 pick.
The addition of Jones will free up fellow wideouts Roddy White and Harry Douglas to make plays, but Jones will have an impact as well.
At Alabama, Jones caught 179 balls for 2,653 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Denver Broncos might have one of the most solid pass rushes on the right side of the defense with outside linebacker, Von Miller, waiting behind Elvis Dumervil.
Miller, the recipient of the Butkus Award, awarded to the nation's top linebacker was an absolute beast as a Texas A&M Aggie. In his four years, he made 48 sacks, 178 tackles, and a stunning 54 tackles for a loss.
With Dumervil and Miller gunning for the quarterback, Miller will be an impact player for years to come.