Which Rookies Will Make An Immediate Impact?


When NFL teams draft prospects, they do it for the three, five and 10-year impact they can provide. No team drafts a player solely based on the immediate impact they will make year one. The impact a rookie can provide for the future is the base of the evaluation with the ability to make an immediate impact the cherry on top.

With that being said, there are some players who will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact during their rookie campaigns.

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Dallas Cowboys

The first player who will make an immediate impact is the easiest one. Ezekiel Elliott is a dynamic playmaker at running back who could potentially lead the NFL in rushing in his first year in the NFL. When you combine elite talent, with an elite offensive line and an offense conducive to running the football, you get a perfect match for immediate impact.

Laremy Tunsil, Offensive Tackle, Miami Dolphins

The top prospect in the draft fell all the way to the 13th overall pick, but that doesn’t mean he won’t make an immediate impact. Laremy Tunsil is an elite specimen on the offensive line and he has the talent to have a similar career arc of Joe Thomas or Tyron Smith. The only way Tunsil’s talent could be derailed is if they put him inside at guard, which takes away his immense physical gifts.

DeForest Buckner, Defensive End, San Francisco 49ers

DeForest Buckner was drafted to the perfect place for his pro-development. He goes to a team who runs a similar defense to the one he ran in college, which will limit the learning curve he will experience. Five-technique defensive ends rarely put up big numbers, so don’t expect him to light up the stat sheet, but Buckner will make an immediate positive impact for the 49ers defense.

Ryan Kelly, Center, Indianapolis Colts

One of the most pro-ready players in this past draft class was center Ryan Kelly. He had the rare physical skill set and mental makeup to fit on any team. He walks into the NFL as a better player than 70 percent of the starting centers in the league, which shows how great of a talent he is. Kelly will make life easier on Andrew Luck, and if the NFL didn’t have a bias against offensive linemen, he’d be one of the favorites to win the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Laquon Treadwell, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings

Laquon Treadwell’s skill set was tailor-made for the NFL. The physical nature that he plays football and the technical nuance that he plays with should allow him to make an immediate impact. Not only will he finally give Teddy Bridgewater a legitimate No. 1 target, but he will improve the running game with his blocking. You can bet that he will spring Adrian Peterson for more than a few big runs in the upcoming season.

Myles Jack, Linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars

Myles Jack fell to the second round, but he is not a second-round player. He is an immense talent who, if not for an ACL injury, should have gone in the top five. Jack is an incredible run and hit linebacker who has generational talent in coverage. Jack may be the favorite to win the defensive player of the year and the Jaguars will benefit from his immense talent.

Sterling Shepard, Wide Receiver, New York Giants

For a wide receiver to be able to step in and make an immediate impact, he needs to be able to run routes well with nuance, which Sterling Shepard does extremely well. Shepard is a better football player than the New York Giants’ first-round pick Eli Apple, and he will make a bigger impact during his rookie campaign.

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