NFL Draft Early Impact Prospects

Which players drafted in the 2011 NFL draft might help their teams immediately?

In a draft of over two hundred new football players, there will be many, many players who eventually make an impact in the league. But how many will actually help their teams significantly from Day 1? Top picks like quarterbacks Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are not NFL-ready so, while they will likely be on a list of 2011 NFL Draft Impact Players written in 2016, they may not do much for their teams in the coming season. So, which top prospects have a good chance to really help their teams early? Let's take a look at five from the early rounds who might:

Von Miller, Outside Linebacker for the Denver Broncos

I thought that the Broncos should have taken Dareus here to create an elite inside-outside combination with outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil but Miller is an incredible talent who could really pay off for Denver. Miller and Dumerveil are likely both top five pass rushers in the NFL right now so new coach John Fox's thinking with this pick was clear: don't stress position just get two guys on the field who can sack the hell out of the opposing quarterback. With Champ Bailey leading the secondary, Denver is a few pieces away from an intriguingly capable defense.

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MarcellDareus, Defensive Tackle for the Buffalo Bills

Dareus was the best defensive line prospect in the draft and the Bills selected him third overall. Dareus is ready to play in the NFL and could totally change the Bills defense from Day 1. Before the draft, the Bills defense had a capable secondary, some talent at linebacker, and the worst front four in football. They couldn't stop the run at all and were unable to pressure the quarterback in the pocket, which in turn weakened their secondary play. Dareus should capably plug the middle and even pressure the opposing quarterback in certain situations, which will help the whole defense.

Julio Jones, Wide Receiver for the Atlanta Falcons

Many pundits derided the Falcon's gutsy gamble to get Jones but I was a big fan. Jones is a very special, underrated talent: he has the size, power, and polish to be the second coming of Hines Ward and will form an elite tandem with Roddy White. The Falcons knew they were not a Superbowl team without better weapons and, since the team is willing to spend in free agency and GM Thomas Dimitroff has a penchant for finding the right players, their lost draft picks should be less costly than one might think. Meanwhile, Jones gives them the second option they need to free up both White and running back Michael Turner and diversify what was a one dimensional offense.

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Christian Ponder, Quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings

Sure, they could have moved back. But for a veteran team looking for the right, polished young quarterback who can keep them contending, don't you have to take your guy? Ponder is an underrated prospect whose stock was hurt by injuries but he has excellent instincts, a great football IQ, size, and a fairly strong arm. He is a Jake Plummer (or a bit better) type who you can contend with if your team is otherwise a consistent and veteran group so, before judging the Vikings, let's see what kind of an impact Ponder can make.

Robert Quinn
Quarterback Dave Shinskie #15 gets sandwiched between Defensive tackle Marvin Austin #9 and Defensive end Robert Quinn #42 during the Boston College game against North Carolina at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, MA

Robert Quinn, Defensive End for the St. Louis Rams

Quinn was probably this year's most talented prospect but he fell on inexperience, a missed season, and character concerns. But none of that changes the fact that he can flat out sack the quarterback and will revolutionize a talented Rams front four that is coming together under coach Steve Spagnuolo. Look out for the Rams!

Certainly, these five are not the only prospects ready to make an impact! Check back soon for more updates and additional profiles of prospects who could make an impact next season!

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