Which rookies are already making a name for themselves as studs in the NFL? After breaking down the preseason and training camp performances of the top rookies, here is a look at those who are already standing out.

Of course, you know all about Andrew Luck. The No. 1 overall pick has looked great, but that's been discussed at length here and here this preseason. Who else is standing out?

There are tons of rookies on every team who look great so far, but these five players have the look of early studs and big impacts for their respective teams.


Kendall Wright, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans


While their college teams are jockeying for position in their conferences and the BCS standings, the top 2013 NFL draft eligible prospects will be causing their stock to rise and fall each week. The final big board in late April will look very different from this one. There will be new names, and names on this list will fall out of the draft's top 50-100, or perhaps not even declare for the draft. Who are the top 25 overall 2013 NFL draft-eligible prospects heading into the 2013 college football season?

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Keenan Allen is the best 2013 NFL draft eligible wide receiver that doesn't have questions about rehab from an injury.

Is he the best 2013 NFL draft eligible wide receiver, period? Let's take a closer look at the big Golden Bear pass-catcher.



Allen's size is going to be an asset at 6'3", 210 pounds. He is not a super-sized wide receiver like, say, Calvin Johnson, but his long limbs and better than average-sized frame should make him a tough draw for smaller cornerbacks.

Allen has speed, but it is build-up speed. He does not get up to top speed right out of his break, but given time to ramp up, Allen can run away from defensive backs.


With the first two picks in the 2012 NFL draft, the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins made the easy choices by selecting the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft class. Now, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III must lead their two new teams to the promised land. How are the two rookie quarterbacks looking after their first NFL action?

This is the preseason, so no two scenarios can be truly compared. Luck has played more snaps and thrown the ball more, so there is a larger sample size to evaluate. Judging from the first two preseasons games, here is what we've seen.


Andrew Luck

Stats: 363 yards passing (second best in the NFL), 63.4 percent completions, two touchdowns and two interceptions 

The Colts were expected by many to be a step behind the Washington Redskins this season, mostly because of inexperienced offensive linemen and a lack of notable players at receiver. So far, that hasn't slowed down Andrew Luck.


It's impossible to predict the final 2012 NFL standings with any accuracy, but if you want to mock the first round of next year's draft, you have to stick your neck out and take a shot. We can see the winds of change blowing around a few teams, and there are some teams that look like they will be stuck in the doldrums for yet another season. By projecting the order of finish of all 32 teams and adding in the current beliefs about the 2013 NFL draft-eligible prospects, we can take a stab at seeing how teams will be able to help themselves next year...because there's always a next year.


Wisconsin running back Montee Ball was a Heisman hopeful last year and Heisman favorite this year. Unfortunately, he was attacked by five other people (Adam Rittenberg, ESPN) in an unprovoked assault earlier this month, which could slow him early in the season.

As we have learned in the past, Heisman candidacy doesn't always equal big-time pro prospects. Does Ball pass the eyeball test to fit in as a starting pro running back, or is this another case of the right back in the right system who won't translate as well to the NFL?



Ball is listed at 5'11", 212 pounds with a 40 time anywhere from the mid-4.4s to the mid-4.6s. He is not a "special" back in any way physically. His initial burst and second gear are not elite, although he doesn't slow down once he reaches top speed, and he maintains his top speed from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. 

Ball's lateral agility is slightly above average at best. He doesn't make sharp cuts behind the line of scrimmage and sometimes has to gather himself to change direction. His balance and footwork is good, but not exceptional. Where he does shine in the quickness/elusiveness vein is in the open field.


It's preseason, but that doesn't mean that it's too early to think about how the 2012 NFL season will shake out and which current college stars will be targeted in the first round. Many of these predictions will look silly in a few months, but it is always an enriching exercise to think about where teams will be picking in the next NFL draft and who they may consider at those picks.

Just slotting the 32 teams will remind you that the St. Louis Rams have an extra first-rounder next year and that there will be some good teams missing the playoffs this year in the NFC. 

How would a draft play out based on a current estimation of player stock and NFL power rankings?

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Many will jump to compare the play of Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton, but are they really so similar?

At first glance, the two quarterbacks do seem very similar. Both are built like tight ends and stand out from the crowd as 6'5"-or-taller, well-built quarterbacks. It's easy to make the visual comparison that these two players do look alike on the football field due to their throwing motions, running style and physical dominance.

Newton made his mark at Auburn, and later with the Carolina Panthers, as a run-pass threat who was big enough to roll over tacklers and strong enough to thread the ball downfield. Similarly, Thomas is even bigger, stronger and may have a better short-to-intermediate arm. 

At surface level, yes, Newton and Thomas play a lot alike, but digging down deeper, we've found the comparisons end at face value.


Newsflash: Andrew Luck is a very good quarterback.

Nothing new, right? Before the 2012 NFL draft most sane people agreed that Luck was a rare prospect for a college quarterback, and many proclaimed him to be the best overall prospect they had seen. Now that Luck's first NFL game is in the books, let's take a look at three traits that separate No. 12 from the rookie quarterbacks we've seen over the last decade.



We hear it said all the time during a broadcast, but what does it mean for the quarterback to look off the safeties?

Luck demonstrated this very well in his first outing. To put it very plainly, he's not locking on to his receivers and showing the safeties where the pass is going. Instead, we'll see him actually lock his eyes onto the safety when the ball is snapped and then move his head and eyes to his targets in a routine manner. He may not throw there, but his eyes are scanning the field constantly to prevent the safety from keying in on where he's going with the ball.

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The shocking announcement Friday afternoon that the LSU football team would dismiss its best player—defensive back and return man Tyrann Mathieu—left the college football world reeling. Mathieu was the best player on an LSU team that came up just shy of a national championship in 2011 and enters 2012 as the No. 1 team in the country.

While there are many great people covering what this means for LSU, what does this mean for Mathieu?

When the 2012 NFL draft closed, Mathieu's draft stock was a bit of a mystery. He's been referred to in conversations as the "defensive version of Tim Tebow...minus the good-guy character."

That's pretty accurate, as Mathieu defies conventional scouting measurements and ideals. He's not big, listed at just 5'9" and 175 lbs but thought to be much smaller, and he doesn't possess what you would expect to be a very low 40-yard dash time based on his short strides.