The scene of the NFL draft is a thing of beauty—though the manner in which the draftees convey their emotions may differ, being drafted to a team means the same to everyone—they’ve made it to the promised land. Whatever hardships walked beside them in the moments prior are now figments of the past.
With rookie camps closing this past weekend, let’s take a look at which new editions will have the biggest impact for their respective team.
New England Patriots: Derek Rivers, OLB
New England is mocking the rest of the league right now. The Patriots did not have a draft pick until the third round— selecting Derek Rivers 83rd overall and bolstering their already-elite defense with the addition of the athletic linebacker out of Youngstown state.
Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, DE
While on the subject of athletic linebackers, enter Charles Harris. He finished his career at Missouri with a strong junior season, recording 61 tackles and nine sacks on his way to second team all-SEC, and will make a fine addition to Matt Burke’s defense.
New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S
This is an easy one—Adams will not only be the biggest impact rookie on the Jets, but will quickly become one of the best safeties in the NFL. He’ll be the anchor for a young Jets secondary that hopes to improve in pass coverage, as New York was 28th in the league in points allowed in 2016.
Buffalo Bills: Zay Jones, WR
With little receiver competition on the Bills, Jones looks to be the sure complement to Sammy Watkins. The Bills finished 30th in passing yards per game, look for Jones to aid Tyrod Taylor and improve that standing.
Baltimore Ravens: Tyus Bowser, OLB
Not only is he a great player, but how can you not love that name? Just try saying it with a menacing tone—Tyus Bowser. He’ll look to impose his name on opposing QBs and will make an immediate impact in Baltimore.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon, RB
Mixon will have an impact on and off the field, whether he likes it or not—though he did a terrible thing, Marvin Lewis saw enough to grant him a second chance, and I think he’ll take advantage of it. There are a lot of Cincinnatians outraged by this selection, time will tell how he’ll be received on the field.
Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, OLB
The perfect landing spot for a talented linebacker—Watt will certainly have a lot to live up to on name alone, but will have the privilege of learning from one of the best to ever lace ‘em up in James Harrison, and will soon be a starter for Dick LeBeau’s defense.
Cleveland Brown: David Njoku, TE
Miles Garrett will be good. Jabrill Peppers will be good. But David Njoku will be the primary target for whoever they decide to stick at quarterback, and without Gary Barnidge, he will have free reign in the middle of the field.
Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, QB
Though Tom Savage is currently considered the starting quarterback, Watson will get the nod by season’s beginning. The Texans believe he’s the future, and have to be excited about the Watson/Hopkins duo.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB
The Jaguars are a quarterback away from being serious contenders—Fournette will be a 25 carries/game back that Jacksonville will use to build around.
Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S/Quincy Wilson, CB
Sometimes, ties are a positive, especially when it comes to biggest rookie impacts—Wilson and Hooker have the chance to change the culture in the Colts secondary, which finished 27th in the league in passing yards allowed per game.
Tennessee Titans: Adoree’ Jackson, CB
So, so tempted to choose Corey Davis in this situation. He will make an excellent receiver, but Jackson will lead the Titan rookies this season. From his cover abilities to his punt return skills, he will be used in a similar manner as Jabrill Peppers.
Kansas City Chiefs: Kareem Hunt, RB
Mahomes will eventually be the starting quarterback of the Chiefs, but Hunt will produce for the Chiefs this season. He’ll likely split with Spencer Ware and look to make up for the loss of Jamaal Charles.
Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT
Bolles was the first lineman taken this year, and how can you not root for this guy and his cute kid? Bolles will immediately inserted into the starting lineup to block for Siemian and the newly acquired Jamaal Charles.
Oakland Raiders: Obi Melifonwu, S
The Raiders clearly looked to bolster the secondary in this draft, and Obi was one of my favorite picks—a freak athlete, Melifonwu will tower over most receivers, a key factor in a division with the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Mike Williams.
Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR
This may be River’s last shot at a playoff run—Allen is back, Gordon is coming off a solid sophomore season, and he now has a big target in Williams. The title game hero will make an instant impact.
New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE
The Giants took a similar approach as the Buccaneers—draft a star tight end to complement two outstanding receivers. Though Engram is not the force that Howard is, he will be in the starting lineup week one.
Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE
Barnett will instantly be inserted into the starting lineup, and judging by the applause in Philly, Eagles fans are very pleased with this selection. He finished tied 6th in the NCAA in sacks with 13 in 2016, and will look to continue his success in the NFL.
Washington Redskins: Samaje Perine, RB
I really wanted the Packers to take Perine (can’t argue with the Biegel pick though!)—I had the pleasure of watching him run in high school against my alma mater–he will soon be running over NFL defenders.
Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charleton, DE
Charleton was a great pick for a Cowboys defense that ranked first overall in rushing yards allowed in 2016—and may now very well be the best D-lineman on the Cowboys. Charleton is a mountain of a man and will give opposing tackles major problems.
Minnesota Vikings: Pat Elflein, C
Down the road, Cook will have the biggest impact on the Vikings, but for this season, the title belongs to Elflein. It doesn’t matter who Zimmer has in the backfield—with a line that porous, they won’t get far. Elflein will contribute in the trenches immediately.
Green Bay Packers: Kevin King, CB
Packers fans should be very excited about their draft class, but for the upcoming season, the excitement should center around Kevin King—the Packers finished 31st in pass defense, and the addition of King’s tall, athletic frame to the starting lineup will surely improve the secondary.
Detroit Lions: Teez Tabor, CB
With Aaron Rodgers in your division, you had better focus on the secondary. If Tabor shows out in training camp, he has a chance to start opposite Darius Slay and improve a mediocre Lions secondary.
Chicago Bears: Eddie Jackson, S
Befuddlement towards the Bears draft strategy aside, Jackson is a great pick—he won’t be a factor at safety this season, but will have the chance to elevate the Bears’ return game to its best since Devin Hester.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, TE
Don’t look now, but the Buccaneers are quietly developing one of the best receiving corps in the league—with a go-to receiver in Mike Evans and a deep threat in DeSean Jackson, Howard was the threat missing for Winston down the middle of the field.
New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB
I was tempted to pick Ramczyk, with the addition of Adrian Peterson and the increasing need to protect an aging Brees, but Lattimore is the best corner in this class, and will be an instant starter for this abysmal Saints secondary.
Carolina Panthers: Curtis Samuel, WR
McCaffrey will be used all over the field, but Samuel will be more important to Newton this season. He’ll be a matchup nightmare for linebackers in the slot with the hopes of improving the Panther’s mediocre offense.
Atlanta Falcons: Takkarist McKinley, DE
The Falcons finished middle of the pack in sacks last season, and another athletic rusher opposite Beasley will improve that standing. And if you have any qualms about McKinley’s passion, go watch his post-draft interview. This man will play inspired and give Dan Quinn 100% every down.
San Francisco 49ers: Reuben Foster, ILB
How tough a choice it was to choose between Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster—both will make excellent players, but Foster will change the culture of the 49er defense. I’m excited to see how Foster will be used, but not quite as excited as John Lynch.
Seattle Seahawks: Ethan Pocic, C
If the Seahawks were looking for their cornerstone offensive lineman, this was certainly not the draft to find it. Nonetheless, John Schneider took what was given to him—a versatile center capable of playing anywhere on the line. Seattle gave up 42 sacks last season, 6th worst in the league. Had it not been for Wilson’s scrambling abilities, the number would surely have been much higher.
Arizona Cardinals: Budda Baker, S
Baker will not be a starter come week one, but he will still have the biggest rookie impact for the Cardinals—fellow safeties Antione Bethea and Tyvon Branch are now in their thirties, and will certainly see shared time with the rookie out of Washington.
Los Angeles Rams: Gerald Everett, TE
With the departure of Lance Kendricks to Green Bay, Sean McVay was quick to find his replacement in Everett. With Goff entering his second year as the starting quarterback, the tight end out of South Alabama will provide him a middle-of-the-field presence from day one.