Rookie From Each Round That Will Make an Immediate Impact


1. First Round: Nick Fairley, DT, Lions

I think this one is “Fairley” obvious. The Lions got one of the best value picks if not THE best value pick in the first round with Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley. While I could go with an obvious guy here like Von Miller or A.J. Green, Fairley is a guy who is going to pair with Ndamukong Suh to give the Lions one of the best defensive tackle tandems in the league, and as Fairley stated, that duo is going to be “nasty”.

Which player will opposing teams put a double team on? With Jim Schwartz as the head man in Detroit, the Lions will get the best out of both players, and the competition between Fairley and Suh will be intense in and of itself. These guys have the potential to both be double digit sack guys, and if not, they are going to be opening/plugging holes for other players to make the plays. Great selection by a regime with serious potential right now.

Second Round: Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Going straight back to the defensive line here with Bowers, who could wind up being the steal of the draft. There is no reason why he won’t be able to contribute early and often, and like I mentioned with the Fairley pick, the Bucs have been drafting so they could have a dominant defensive line, and they just might. How about this for their last four 1st and 2nd round picks: Gerald McCoy, Brian Price, Adrian Clayborn, and Bowers.

Frightening, especially if all of those guys reach their full potential. Price and Bowers are health risks, but for this year at least, they could be a dominant young duo. Let’s call them the “Fab Four”.

Third Round: Nate Irving, LB, Denver Broncos

Watch out for Nate Irving next year. If this guy can stay healthy, he will probably lead the Broncos in tackles. The hard-hitting middle linebacker is in line to start for the Broncos right away, and is a tackling machine. He is one of the more athletic linebackers in the draft, and is a guy who will be the heart and soul of the Broncos’ defense, much like Al Wilson used to be. He has big shoes to fill, but this is a guy who could make a significant impact next year.

Fourth Round: Roy Helu, RB, Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan employs one of the NFL’s best and most consistently effective running games, and now he has a 6’0″ 220 pound guy with big time speed to tote the ball.

Sign me up for Helu in fantasy, please.

Helu is a candidate (especially with the health of Ryan Torain) to run for 1,000 yards next year, and could be the steal of the draft in round four. Shanahan found a couple of gems in the 4th round 5 years ago when he picked Brandon Marshall and Elvis Dumervil, two pro bowl players.

Fifth Round:  Shiloh Keo, Defensive Back, Houston Texans

Shiloh Keo is, simply put, a coaches dream. He will play safety, special teams, and anything the staff in Houston asks him to do. He really couldn’t be going to a more perfect place, because with the lack of talent in the Houston secondary, he is an infusion of life, excitement, and he hits anyone holding a football like a ton of bricks.

This was a shrewd pick by the Texans.

Sixth Round: Greg Jones, LB, New York Giants/Tyler Sash, S, New York Giants

Nobody–NOBODY–got better value in the sixth round than did the New York Giants. The Giants picked up two All-American performers, and two guys who were the emotional and vocal leaders of their respective defensive units in college. Sash and Jones have both been talked about as potential second round picks at one point or another, and just because of bad 40 times they fell.

Let me tell you–these guys are great football players. Not to mention, they are great value picks. Not only will both guys make the opening day roster, they will be key components of the special teams and will eventually start, in my opinion.

Seventh Round: Lee Ziemba, OL, Carolina Panthers

I was tempted to put new Broncos TE Virgil Green here, but Ziemba was an excellent pick in his own right. He was talked about this offseason as a potential second round pick, and started on the same line that new Carolina QB Cam Newton dominated behind in their 2010 national championship run.

Ziemba can play either tackle position or either guard position, and he could be a valuable asset for the Panthers.