NFL Rookies: Top 5 First Round Draft Picks to Make an Impact This Season

Blaize PenningtonCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2009

ASHBURN, VA - AUGUST 03:  Defensive end Brian Orakpo #98 of the Washington Redskins warms up during training camp August 3, 2009 in Ashburn, Virginia.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Now that training camp has started and we are finally getting somewhat of an idea of how the rookies will start to pan out. Every year many rookies make direct impacts on their teams.

Three years ago it was Vince Young who turned around a losing season to take the Titans to a game away from the playoffs. Adrian Peterson transformed the Vikings running game in 2007, and made them a competitor in the NFC North.

Last year was the year of rookies, with Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Matt Forte, Chris Johnson, and Steve Slayton all made huge impacts on their teams last year.

This year there are five guys who stick out in my mind as players who should make an impact this year, and here is the real surprise: three of them are defensive players.

5. Percy Harvin, WR, MIN

Many people will not agree with Harvin being one of the top rookies this upcoming year. However, the reason he will be a top rookie is due to the situation he has been put in. With no big threats in the passing game, and most defenses spending the majority of their gameplanning on Adrian Peterson, Harvin will be given the chance to be a major impact.

It will not surprise me to see many different screens and gimmicks designed for Harvin. Look for reverses or play action wide receiver screens to throw off the defense and potentially let Harvin hit some homeruns for the Vikings.

4. Brian Cushing, LB, HOU

Cushing is going to be put into a place to succeed. From what I understand he is going to be playing on the other side of the field as Mario Williams. Since Williams will be taking many double blocks, any blitzes from Cushing's side could produce a wide open path to the quarterback.

On top of that, most teams will not run toward Mario Williams, giving Cushing the opportunity to make game changing tackles. Teams also have to account for DeMeco Ryans who made 112 tackles last season. Cushing's success will depend on how hard he works this offseason.

3. Aaron Curry, LB, SEA

This guy is the best athlete in the draft. He is going to be a great addition to the Seahawks defense and between Curry and Lofa Tatupu the Seahawks now have a great core to work around. Curry will be able to help the running defense and passing defense immediately.

2. Brandon Pettigrew, TE, DET

Yes, Matt Stafford was taken ahead of Pettigrew, but this year Pettigrew will make more of a difference. With Dennis Northcut and Calvin Johnson on the outside there will be a lot of room available in the middle for Pettigrew to make plays.

It would not surprise me if Pettigrew became a favorite target of Dante Culpepper or Stafford this year. I'm not expecting a Rookie of the Year award for Pettigrew, but he will definitely make an impact.

1. Brian Orakpo, DE, WAS

This rookie is getting the best opportunity by being able to play next to arguably the best defensive tackle in the league in Albert Haynesworth. Orakpo will very rarely be double teamed this year as long as Haynesworth is healthy.

London Fletcher would also take attention of Orakpo, giving him every chance to succeed.

Honorable Mention
Donald Brown, RB, IND
Robert Ayers, DE, DEN
B.J. Raji, DT, GB
Jeremy Maclin, WR, PHI
Mark Sanchez, QB, NYJ


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