Which NFC North Rookies Will Have The Biggest Impact?

Andy RAnalyst IMay 24, 2010

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Toby Gerhart #7 of the Stanford Cardinal runs with the ball during their game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Each season, some rookie comes out of nowhere to impress coaches, teammates and fans. They may have not been a first-round pick, but they blew away the competition and never looked back.

For a division that drafted a total of 26 players, there's bound to be a few booms and a few busts.

(The overall selection is in parenthesis)

Detroit Lions

IMPACT PLAYERS: DT Ndamukong Suh (2), RB Jahvid Best (30), and OT Jason Fox (128)

Both Suh and Best were first round picks in 2010 for the Lions with Detroit moving up four spots just to grab Best.

Suh has drawn comparisons to future Hall of Famer, Warren Sapp. His ability to stand his ground against the run and rush the passer make the Suh a dangerous weapon for an improved Detroit Lions team.

Acquiring Corey Williams and Kyle VandenBosch greatly improves the defensive line and will no doubt help Suh develop into one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL.

Best is an explosive running back who will forever have one of the most disturbing comments surrounding him. By that, I mean head coach Jim Schwartz' comment, "Some people watch adult videos on their computer. I go to YouTube and watch Jahvid Best highlight clips. That's what gets me aroused."

Think Schwartz wants to re-evaluate that comment? Probably not.

Best brings a fast and agile weapon to a suddenly impressive offense, on paper at least. With Stafford, Johnson and Best, this could be a solid trio for years to come.

Lastly, offensive tackle Jason Fox was a second-round prospect that fell to the Lions in round four because of injury concerns including an irregular heartbeat.

As a guy with an irregular and slow heartbeat myself, I don't see this as a problem like so many others.

Fox wants to play in the NFL and is extremely dedicated to the sport. He's a great blocker in both pass protection and road grating. It'll be interesting to see if he can pry away a starting tackle position as the Lions move Backus to guard... hopefully.

Detroit's other picks included cornerback Amari Spievey (66 overall), defensive end Willie Young (213 overall), and Mr. Irrelevant, wide receiver Tim Toone.

I can't see Spievey as anything more than a special teams player for the Lions. The same goes for Young. While Spievey is projected as the teams' number two cornerback, I can't see it happening.

As far as Toone goes, irrelevant is exactly what he'll be for the Lions.

Chicago Bears

Impact Players: S Major Wright (75)

The Bears didn't have a lot to work with after trading their first two picks for Jay Cutler and Gaines Adams (RIP). They did the majority of their work in the offseason during free agency with Julius Peppers and Chestor Taylor joining the team.

What they did get is a very good safety at a spot where few are actually found. Wright provides the Bears with a solid free safety prospect at extremely good value.

He'll likely start right away as the Bears are in dire need of secondary help. He's no Louis Delmas of 2010, but I can see him as a 70 tackles and five interception guy.

Chicago's other picks include defensive end Corey Wootten (109 overall), cornerback Joshua Moore (141), quarterback Dan LeFevour (181), and offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb (218).

Wootten had a great junior year, but injuries set him back last season. I wanted to love this pick, but "defensive end", "Chicago Bears" and "draft" don't work well in the same sentence.

With Zachary Bowman and Charles Tillman taking the starting spots, I don't see Moore getting a lot of attention at cornerback. I can't see the Bears using the Nickel formation with the linebackers they have.

I dubbed LeFevour as one of the best quarterbacks of this class, but playing behind Cutler hurts his stock a little. However, if Cutler has a couple more 20 interception seasons, LeFevour could be the franchise quarterback for the Bears.

The Webb pick is a joke and he probably won't even be on the roster in two years. The guy wasn't good in college and that success will likely transfer into the NFL.

On another note, am I the only one that thinks that teams should get a compensatory pick for players that pass away while on the team? I think the Bears should have at least gotten an extra third-round pick instead of nothing for the Gaines Adams tragedy.

Green Bay Packers

IMPACT PLAYERS: OT Bryan Bulaga (23), FS Morgan Burnett (71), and OG Marshall Newhouse (169)

Bulaga basically fell right into the Packers' lab. Literally.

The guy was easily a top-ten pick and one of the best offensive tackles in the draft, but concerns about his arm length saw him fall down the draft.

His 33 1/4" arm span were apparently a concern for NFL teams. However, did anyone take into account that his span was still longer than Joe Thomas (32 1/2") and Jake Long (32 7/8"), both of which were drafted in the top three of their respective classes?

Bulaga's arm length is not a concern. Sorry guys, but the guy is a beast on the offensive line and will push for a starting position from day one.

Morgan Burnett is not a flashy player. He doesn't rack up interceptions or make unbelievable plays, but he is a consistent player who plays with his heart.

I love the Burnett pick because it fills a relative need for the Packers and is of great value. Burnett can tackle very well and always seems to be near the ball. While a Hall of Fame stamp is nowhere in his sights, an underrated stamp will follow him like it does with London Fletcher.

Marhshall Newhouse could easily find a starting spot on the Packers' offensive line in 2010 for a few reasons, but a lack of competition will likely see him start immediately.

It's no secret that the Packers' offensive line struggled in 2009, but the second half of the season went remarkably better than some think.

Newhouse is a huge offensive lineman that will provide a solid blocking unit for Ryan Grant to have another underrated season. Not only do the Packers get value here, but they fill a dire need with one of the more underrated guards in the draft.

The Packers' other picks include defensive end Mike Neal (56), tight end Andrew Quarless (154), running back James Starks (193), and defensive end C.J. Wilson (230).

Neal is a big question mark in my book. The Packers extended a four-year contract to Ryan Pickett, drafted B.J. Raji in the first-round in 2009, and a have a great 3-4 defensive end in Cullen Jenkins.

Where does Neal fit in? Do the Packers plan on grooming him to replace Pickett in a year or two? Regardless, I don't care much for this pick. The Packers already have a great defense and didn't need Neal.

Andrew Quarless will likely see the bench all season long, this year and next. With JerMichael Finley and Donald Lee as one of the best tight end tandems in the NFL, Quarless has nowhere to play for several years. Can you say special teams player?

Starks is an okay running back, but won't blow you away. The Packers have Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson. This pick is more or less a luxury pick.

C.J. Wilson is another question mark. He won't see any playing time, ever.

Minnesota Vikings

IMPACT PLAYERS: CB Chris Cook (34) and RB Toby Gerhart (51)

The Vikings reportedly were on the phone with cornerback Kyle Wilson at the time the Jets drafted him. They wanted Wilson and were shocked that the Jets took him, so they drafted back and selected what they felt was the next best cornerback.

Boy did they find one.

Chris Cook is huge for a cornerback at 6'2" and 215 pounds. He is good in coverage and played some free safety in college. That's just what the Vikings needed with Winfield getting older, Cedric Griffen rehabilitating an ACL tear, and Madieu Williams sucking it up.

If Griffen starts the season, Cook will be the nickel cornerback and play some free safety. However, that's unlikely and we should see a lot of Cook in the first few weeks.

The Vikings did the unthinkable and drafted up in the second-round and drafted Colt McCoy...wait, that's not right.

Nope, the Vikings drafted up to select Toby Gerhart to replace Chestor Taylor.

Gerhart was the entire Stanford team and carried them week in and week out. However, he'll take a backseat to Adrian Peterson and play on third-downs and short yardage situations.

Gerhart will see plenty of playing time and should be an immediate impact. He never fumbles the ball unlike another Vikings running back and is faster and stronger than people give him credit for.

The other Vikings' draft picks include defensive end Everson Griffen (100), offensive guard Chris Degeare (161), linebacker Nate Triplett (167), quarterback/wide receiver Joe Webb (199), tight end Mickey Shuler (214), and linebacker/fullback Ryan D'Imperio (237).

Everson Giffen was a first-round prospect who fell to the fourth-round. This is a great pick. However, the Vikings still have Jared Allen and Ray Edwards. While Edwards is waiting for a contract, he is not participating in off-season workouts with the team. Many have speculated that the Vikings may end up trading him before the regular season. In that case, Griffen would definitely be an impact player. That's not the way it is right now though.

Degeare wasn't even supposed to be drafted. He struggled with academic issues his entire college career and hardly played. This is a pointless pick.

Nate Triplett is expected to play special teams and add depth to the linebacking corps. Don't expect to see him starting any day soon.

Joe Webb was drafted as a wide receiver, but played quarterback in college, but started working out as a receiver for the Vikings, but is now working out as a quarterback. Can anyone make sense of this?

Mickey Shuler may play some day, but he wasn't the greatest tight end in college. He was only used in blocking situations and will likely find himself doing the same in Minnesota.

Ryan D'Imperio will work out as a fullback after playing linebacker in college. At least Tahi can't screw the Vikings over with stupid penalties (12 men in the huddle anyone?) if D'Imperio plays.

Like always, the 2010 was full of surprises. We'll see a lot of starters out of this bunch. What I don't really see is a lot of busts here. Players were drafted where they should have been or better yet, fell to a team after being projected much higher.

Overall, the NFC North had a good draft. I look forward to seeing how some rookies perform. After all, rookies are what ultimately sets up your team for future success.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.