The 2017 NFL Draft had a ton of talent in it, and a number of the top prospects landed in perfect situations. Several rookies are in a great position to do big things in Year 1. Here’s a look at the 10 who have the best chance at making a major impact in 2017.
10. Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans
A big (6’3″ 209), prolific receiver in college at Western Michigan, Corey Davis will finally give Marcus Mariota the type of target he’s been lacking in the NFL. There’s a reason Tennessee took Davis with the fifth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Mariota completed just 159 passes to receivers for 16 touchdowns in 2016. Davis had 97 receptions for 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns at Western Michigan as a senior in 2016. If this duo gets on the same page, the Titans offense could explode in 2017.
9. O.J. Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Mariota, Jameis Winston got something he really didn’t previously have when the Bucs drafted O.J. Howard with the 19th pick in 2017. While Mike Evans is turning into a star on the perimeter, Winston needed a solid option over the middle and in shorter areas. His new toy from Alabama gives him that.
Howard was easily the best tight end in college football last year and returning for his senior season solidified his draft position. At 6’6″ and 251 pounds with a 4.51 40, he’s big, fast, athletic and powerful. He’ll be perfect for Winston’s quarterbacking style.
8. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings needed to find a long-term replacement for Adrian Peterson and they did so with the 41st pick in the 2017 draft. Dalvin Cook’s stock took a hit due to character concerns but there’s little doubt he was one of the best and most complete running backs in the draft.
Cook rushed for 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns in three years at Florida state, while averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He also caught 79 passes. As a team the Vikings rushed for just 1,205 yards and averaged 3.2 ypc in 2016. Cook should fundamentally change the team’s offense with his game-breaking speed and receiving ability out of the backfield.
7. T.J. Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
J.J. Watt’s little brother blew up at the combine, showing excellent athleticism and quickness that should lead to on-field playmaking ability. T.J. Watt is being brought in solely to help Pittsburgh’s pass rush, which garnered 38 sacks in 2016, but wasn’t consistent enough.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2016, Watt checks in at 6’4″ and 252 pounds with 4.69 40 speed.Those are all ideal numbers for an edge rusher, which is why the Steelers selected him with the 30th pick in the draft. While he’ll never be the physical freak his brother is, T.J. could make a big impact on a Steelers team that should be in contention in the AFC this season.
6. Haason Reddick, OLB, Arizona Cardinals
With Kevin Minter, Calais Campbell and Alex Okafor all gone from the front seven, the Cardinals needed a boost of athleticism to their linebacking corps. Enter Haason Reddick, who played defensive end at Temple, but will be an inside linebacker in Arizona’s 3-4 scheme.
At 6’1″ and 237 pounds, Reddick won’t blow anyone away with his size, but he ran a 4.52 40 at the combine, while busting out an incredible broad jump of 11’1″ and a 36.5-inch vertical. The 13th pick in the 2017 draft is obviously super athletic, but also possesses next-level instincts and should be a prolific tackler on a defense that needs one.