NFL

Players Who Will Make An Impact Coming Off the Bench

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Each NFL team has 53 players on its final roster; however, only 22 of them can start on any given Sunday. These 22 players have the easiest opportunity to make an impact, but they aren’t the only ones that can significantly affect what happens on Sundays.

The other players on the roster are left to make impact in more creative ways. Some may a big impact as returners and some of them fill a niche on offense or defense. Last year, players like Pernell McPhee and Brandon Graham were able to be fantastic players, despite not being starters on their respective teams.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few players that are primed to make similar impacts coming off the bench in 2015.

Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys

Cole Beasley may be one of the best niche players in the NFL. He is not someone you want to line up on the outside and run deep routes throughout a game; however, if you put him in the slot and let him work in space there are not many players who are better than him.

Beasley is one of the better slot receivers in the NFL as he uses his quickness and precise route-running to get open in tight spaces. Beasley makes his money on third down where he has showed the capability to be a reliable target for Tony Romo.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett stated that Beasley has the instincts to be a great receiver for the Cowboys. “Obviously undersized and looks like the paper boy coming in – despite the beard that he has,” Garrett said. “But right from the start of his rookie minicamp, he was someone who showed up to us, and you could tell he just had a good feel and instinct for playing, very quarterback friendly, makes a lot of little plays, makes a lot of big plays – just has a knack for playing the game.”

Beasley probably won’t start for the Cowboys, but you can bet that opposing defenses will feel his impact every week.

Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns

Because of a hamstring injury early in training camp, Duke Johnson has likely fell behind in his quest to become the Cleveland Browns’ starting running back in 2015, but that won’t stop him from making a positive impact for the Browns this year.

Johnson is a quick and fluid running back that exhibits great patience when reading his blocks. Johnson is a cerebral runner that understands the subtle nuances of playing running back in the NFL. He has the agility and flexibility to layer jukes together, which makes him extremely difficult to tackle for opposing defenses.

Johnson will likely play behind Isiah Crowell in Cleveland, but don’t be surprised if he becomes a great change of pace running back for the Browns as he will have many clamoring for him to take over the starting role in 2016.

Dwayne Harris, New York Giants

Dwayne Harris is a blue-collar receiver who does all the little things that most receivers scoff at. He is a fantastic blocker, just ask DeMarco Murray, and he isn’t afraid to catch the difficult passes over the middle. He’s not exceptionally fast or a great route runner, but his ability to get open and make plays with the ball in his hands make him a huge weapon.

Not only will Harris make an impact on offense, but also on special teams. Harris may be the best special teams player in the NFL as he can play on each special teams unit at a very high level. Whether it is covering kicks or returning them, Harris makes a big impact.

Harris is the type of player who won’t fill up the stat sheet, but the things he does so well don’t have stats dedicated to them. Whether you see it in the box score or not, you better believe that Harris will be a big reason why the Giants have some success this year.

Scott Crichton, Minnesota Vikings

Scott Crichton is a key cog on the talented Minnesota Vikings defensive line. He will likely be stuck behind Brian Robinson and Everson Griffin, but Crichton will be the guy that the coaches look to when they decide to rotate their defensive line.

Crichton is an explosive and powerful player that is at his best when he uses his heavy hands to create push on opposing linemen. The biggest thing Crichton will have to do is remain healthy, which he has been unable to do in his short career.

If Crichton can remain healthy, don’t be surprised if he makes an impact like Pernell McPhee did last year for the Baltimore Ravens. He can play numerous positions along the defensive line and you can bet that head coach Mike Zimmer will take full advantage of each of them.


About John Owning

John Owning

John Owning is a NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has years of experience covering the NFL, NFL draft and NCAA football. John's work has been featured on the Bleacher Report and DraftBreakdown.com