The Biggest Impact Rookie and His Landing Spot

By Lucas M.

Now that the 2012-13 NFL season is in the books, it’s naturally time to begin looking forward at the incoming draft class. This year’s crop of rookies doesn’t offer nearly as much dynamic quarterback talent as last year, but a few of the other positional classes are off the charts. In case if you missed it, here is the draft order for this upcoming April:

1 Kansas City Chiefs
2 Jacksonville Jaguars
3 Oakland Raiders
4 Philadelphia Eagles
5 Detroit Lions
6 Cleveland Browns
7 Arizona Cardinals
8 Buffalo Bills
9 New York Jets
10 Tennessee Titans
11 San Diego Chargers
12 Miami Dolphins
13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
14 Carolina Panthers
15 New Orleans Saints
16 St. Louis Rams
17 Pittsburgh Steelers
18 Dallas Cowboys
19 New York Giants
20 Chicago Bears
21 Cincinnati Bengals
22 St. Louis Rams (from Washington Redskins)
23 Minnesota Vikings
24 Indianapolis Colts
25 Seattle Seahawks
26 Green Bay Packers
27 Houston Texans
28 Denver Broncos
29 New England Patriots
30 Atlanta Falcons
31 San Francisco 49ers
32 Baltimore Ravens

As we learned last season with Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, the right rookie in the perfect situation can dramatically impact their team’s chances, and, of course, their betting lines. For instance, last season, the Colts over/under win total was 4.5 wins. They won 11 and claimed a playoff berth, largely on the play of rookie QB Andrew Luck, who set the passing yardage record for a first-year pass thrower. The Washington Redskins were similarly expected to do zilch in a tough NFC East, yet they went 10-6 and also made it into the playoffs over more veteran and heavily favored teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants. The right rookie can be the difference between dwelling in the NFL basement and making real noise in the playoff picture.
Of course, this year, there are very few players of the caliber of Luck and Griffin. However, that doesn’t mean that a team can’t swing its fortunes if they strike it rich in April. Here is the top impact rookie in the upcoming draft, and how he could affect the fortunes of the team that takes them.
Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia
Smith is one of the biggest conundrums in the upcoming draft. Most seem to agree that he’s a first-round caliber talent, but can the Chiefs really justify taking him at No. 1? He was solid in his combine drills, but nothing more than that. He did rank as the fastest QB in the draft, but he’s considered to be much more of a pocket passer, and in that he was inconsistent. It’s always possible that he could be the next QB to succeed in a read-option type scheme, and Andy Reid would love to have a QB to build around long-term in KC. However, it just isn’t clear if Smith is good enough to warrant that first overall pick. Still, it might become a game of chicken; if the Chiefs don’t take him, the Jaguars or Raiders almost certainly will with their two subsequent picks. Either way, Smith is going to have a big impact for his team’s win column, one way or the other.