The 2012 NFL Draft is finally ready to take place on Thursday and while Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III will most likely see plenty of action as rookies this upcoming season–there are plenty of talented players in the first round that could have an immediate impact with their new team. Here’s a look at seven players expected to be selected in the first round that could have an immediate impact with their new teams as rookies.
7. Boston College LB Luke Kuechly
Not only is Luke Kuechly capable of being one of the top linebackers from this year’s class, but the Boston College standout could quickly develop into an immediate leader on defense for his new team. There are numerous teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles and the St. Louis Rams that are in desperate need of help at the linebacker position, but everything comes down to where Kuechly lands in the first round. Kuechly has received nothing but praise over the last couple of months and don’t be surprised if this rookie earns a starting role with his new team from day one.
6. Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill
Thanks to Ryan Tannehill, the first round of the draft on Thursday could become quite interesting considering how many teams have expressed interest in the Texas A&M standout. If the Miami Dolphins end up selecting Tannehill with the eighth pick, there’s a slight chance he could work his way into the starting role as a rookie. Then again, there’s also the strong possibility of a team like the Cleveland Browns taking a gamble on him with the fourth pick or even another team trading up a few picks to land Tannehill.
No matter what team he lands on–there’s no question Tannehill is capable of earning playing time as a rookie.
5. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd
Michael Floyd may be one of the most difficult players to determine where he lands in the first round. As the second-best receiver in this year’s class, there’s numerous teams like the Arizona Cardinals (13th pick) or the Chicago Bears (19th pick) that would love to land the Notre Dame standout if he’s still on the board. What’s even better is Floyd would most likely start as one of these teams No. 2 wide receiver–which means there won’t be as much pressure as there would be if he were the team’s top option on offense. Not to mention if a player like Larry Fitzgerald is pushing for the Cardinals to land him, Floyd must be one heck of a talented player.
4. Alabama RB Trent Richardson
All signs point to Trent Richardson landing with the Cleveland Browns at No. 4 and after finishing 30th in the NFL last season when it comes to rushing yards–they could certainly use him on offense. With Peyton Hillis joining the Kansas City Chiefs and Montario Hardesty struggling with injuries over the first two seasons, Richardson could work his way into the starting role beginning Week 1 if the Browns decide to go with him in the first round.
And if Cleveland decides to pass on–there are plenty of other teams that would be willing to give Richardson a chance for plenty of playing time as a rookie.
3. Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon
Ever since the college football season ended, Justin Blackmon has been considered the top wide receiver in this year’s draft and there are numerous teams he would immediately become the No. 1 option on offense–especially the St. Louis Rams. The Rams are in desperate need of providing Sam Bradford with more weapons on offense and a player like Blackmon could be the perfect option after finishing his junior season at Oklahoma State with 121 catches for 1,522 yards and 18 touchdowns–which was twice as many touchdowns as the entire Rams passing game.
2. Baylor QB Robert Griffin III
The Washington Redskins gave up their first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 to move up to the No. 2 spot in this year’s draft to land Robert Griffin III–which means they better hope he lives up to all of the hype. Griffin will face plenty of pressure during his first season with the Redskins, but how long it takes for him to be effective may rely on what type of weapons the team can provide him in the passing game.
As bad as it sounds, it may not take long for Griffin to have an immediate impact in Washington considering it doesn’t take much to surpass Rex Grossman or John Beck.
1. Stanford QB Andrew Luck
Does this pick even need an explanation? Andrew Luck faces the most pressure of any player from the 2012 class as he replaces Peyton Manning–a future Hall of Famer–as the new franchise quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. He may never be able to live up to the same numbers as Manning, but Luck has shown NFL potential for a couple of years now and could be effective early on with a target like Reggie Wayne in the passing game.
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