When you make a selection in the NFL Draft, you are either looking for someone to help you make the playoffs that year, or you are pegging a player that will guide you to a Super Bowl run in the future.
Can those two become one? Of course, but nine times out of 10, you get either one or the other – or, if you are the Oakland Raiders, you get neither.
So, here are five rookies you can pencil, not pen, into their respective teams Week 1 lineup later this year.
Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons
Asante Samuel is locked in on one side of the field, so there is a perfect opening for Desmond Trufant to make a splash on the other.
The Falcons already have a more-than-respectable defensive front, so putting a Pro Bowl-caliber corner on the other side of Samuel could send Atlanta back to the Super Bowl.
Trufant stands just shy of 6-feet-tall and recorded a 4.38 40-year dash at the combine. At the University of Washington, he was an all-conference selection and helped the Huskies rank in the Top-20 in the nation in pass defense.
Plus, he has great bloodlines, as brothers Marcus and Isaiah each play in the NFL.
Matt Elam, Baltimore Ravens
Ed Reed will not be the last line of defense for the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens this year.
Instead, that role could fall into the lap of Matt Elam, a highly-ranked recruit who excelled at the University of Florida.
Elam is on the short side, but he makes up for it in terms of skill and power. He came out a year early, but is already 21 years old and has played in the SEC – the premier football conference in all the land – for three seasons.
Is Elam going to be Ed Reed right off the bat? Heck no, but he could develop into the cornerstone of the Ravens unit in a few years.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers has been begging and pleading for a running game.
It seemed as if Alex Green/James Starks were going to form a solid combo for the Packers, but that didn’t happen.
So, instead of trying to make a big splash in the free agent market, Green Bay and Ted Thompson used the draft to land Eddie Lacy.
If you watched this past national championship game, you saw Lacy running all over a much-hyped Notre Dame defense. He’s not quite Trent Richardson, but Richardson is a once-in-a-lifetime player.
Lacy, however, is excellent in pass coverage, has solid hands and runs people over; exactly the kind of back that can help grind out victories in the Wisconsin winters.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans
I’m a little biased on this selection, as I am huge Clemson Tigers fan and enjoyed every single reception DeAndre Hopkins pulled down last year.
But, while I cried a little when he left a year early, it was hard to fault him.
Hopkins had 18 touchdowns and over 1,400 yards as a Tiger receiver, and will give defensive coordinators nightmares trying to plan for himself, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and the Texans this fall.
He still has to fine-tune his route running and techniques, but Hopkins will go up and make the catch; and, he always has Johnson to learn from.
Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams
The Rams hit the draft jackpot with Tavon Austin, landing the speedster and inserting him into the No. 1 receiver role.
Austin has out-of-this-world speed, as evident by his 4.3 speed and incredible hips. The kid can flat out play, and will look even faster on turf.
Here’s a quick look at Austin’s numbers from his most recent season at West Virginia:
– 114 catches, 1,289 yards, 12 touchdowns
– 72 carries, 643 yards, 3 touchdowns – 15 punt returns, 165 yards, 1 touchdown
– 32 kickoff returns, 813 yards, 1 touchdown
Add all that up…..go ahead, I’ll wait.
That equates to Austin averaging 12.5 yards each time he touches the ball. That, my friends, is a first down in football.