Last year’s rookies will most likely go down in history as one of the best ever. With talents such as Andrew Luck, RG3, Trent Richardson, Russell Wilson, Doug Martin, and Alfred Morris, a class like that is hard to come by again. While this year’s rookies are not even close to as talented as the previous years, it is still very possible they will make a huge impact on the NFL. Here are some skill-players who are in the right situation to make an impact next year:
Tavon Austin – WR (Rams) With the Rams trading up to pick Austin, I have a feeling they will be using him in as many ways as possible. While Austin has a very small frame 5’8, and only weighs 175 lbs., don’t let that fool you about his ability. Many have compared Austin to Percy Harvin, and after watching his highlights against Oklahoma (572 all-purpose yards) I don’t doubt it. Not only does Austin play like Percy Harvin, the Rams have proven with Danny Amendola, that they can successfully use a slot receiver. Between those two factors, Austin could make a remarkable impact on the NFL becoming an established Slot Receiver early in his career.
Montee Ball – RB (Denver) Ball might have been drafted in the best place possible for a running back of his stature. Denver may already have three solid starting running backs, but each one has a major problem. McGahee is over 30 years old, Moreno is injury prone and coming off his second surgery, and Hillman is strictly a change-of-pace back. With all of these factors in play, ball might be in the starting lineup from week 1. Placed in an already dynamic offense, Ball should succeed with Peyton manning at the helm. Many defenses will be more concerned with trying to defend the crazy pass game the Broncos have. This should open up holes that Ball will be able to run through all day.
Le’Veon Bell – RB (Pittsburgh) A talented rookie out of Michigan State, Bell will have the chance to shine early in his career. The Running back situation in Pittsburgh was in need of some help before the draft and with this pick they may have just solved their problems. While many people don’t consider Bell to be the top running back in this year’s rookie class, he fits in perfectly to Pittsburgh’s offensive schemes. His ability to catch the ball out of the backfield along with dynamic running ability, Bell should see the start from week 1.
DeAndre Hopkins – WR (Texans) The Texans have been in need for a WR2 for a long time. With Kevin Walter leaving in the off-season, Hopkins has the chance every rookie wishes they had. There is a very good possibility that Hopkins could start across from Andre Johnson, a once elite WR. Hopkins has drawn many comparisons to Roddy White. While his production won’t be like Roddy White’s considering the offense he is playing in, he has the ability to develop into the #1 WR on the Texans in years to come.
Giovani Bernard – RB (Bengals) Giovani Bernard and Green-Ellis could turn into the best running back committee in the NFL. With Green-Ellis’ bruising running style and Bernard’s quick cuts, this could be a tough 1-2 punch to stop. While Bernard suffered a torn ACL in 2010 his recovery and play since then has been great. Bernard also has great pass-catching ability out of the backfield which makes him that much more dangerous.
Geno Smith – QB (Jets) If you ever have any questions about how the QB situation was in New York last year, just turn on ESPN to see Mark Sanchez Butt-fumble. That pretty much summed up his season for the Jets along with still being the Worst-of-the-Worst. So Geno Smith comes into a situation in which he should start from week 1. While he doesn’t have the most talented group of WRs around him, the Jets traded for Chris Ivory who will definitely help the Jets poor offense. Smith also is a talented quarterback with a fantastic work ethic fighting to prove all the critics wrong.
E.J. Manuel – QB (Bills) E.J Manuel is an interesting prospect. Coming into an offense that just released their QB, he has the chance to start week 1. Manuel has drawn many comparisons to Cam Newton. While Manuel isn’t nearly as fast or as accurate as Newton he still seems to have a lot of upside as the Bills starting QB. With two dangerous weapons in C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson, I expect Manuel to be successful immediately. Another person who may help Manuel succeed is Robert Woods out of USC. He was drafted with Manuel, and if a strong connection develops, they could be a threat for years to come.
Eddie Lacy – RB (Packers) The dangerous Packers offense got a little bit scarier after drafting Eddie Lacy. The Packers already seemed unstoppable at some times last year, but with a considerable running back in Lacy, they may actually be unstoppable. Many people consider Lacy to be the top RB of the draft skill-wise, but having a history of injuries made him fall down the draft board considerably. He did land in a good spot though. With the Packers not having a clear #1 RB Lacy will most likely be the starter. If Lacy is to stay healthy and get the opportunity to start, he will most likely be the top rookie running back in the NFL.
Others: Zach Ertz-TE (Eagles), Aaron Dobson-WR(Patriots), Tyler Eifert-TE(Bengals), Robert Woods-WR(Bills)