Early-impact first-round rookies

Which of the top 32 draft choices seem particularly suited to help soon?

Updated: May 13, 2014, 5:31 PM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN Insider

Wide receiver Brandin CooksSteve Dykes/Getty ImagesSpeedy Brandin Cooks appears to be set for a substantial role with the Saints this season.

Prospects don't get drafted high just because they have the polish to help right away. In fact, it can be the opposite. Look at the top three picks:

Jadeveon Clowney is a remarkable physical talent, but his transition could involve scheme adjustments; he'll need to learn a great deal.
Greg Robinson is a player I've compared physically to Walter Jones. But he might start at guard, not tackle, as he works on pass protection.
Blake Bortles likely won't start. He has to work on his ability to make next-level reads and refine his ball placement.

The draft can be a lot like a free-agent contract: You pay for what you expect to get in return, not just for what already has been accomplished. High picks often have flaws. I expect Clowney to have an early impact in 2014, but Robinson and Bortles could take time.

Elsewhere, however, some players enter situations that could lead to an early impact. Let's take a look at a few on offense and defense, with notes on some others.

Remember: For this, immediate fit is the most important.

More Kiper NFL draft content:

Draft Grades | Impact players: Round 1 | Rounds 2 and 3


Offense

Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints

The Saints moved up aggressively to get Cooks at No. 20, and I think that probably changed the plans of at least one other team. The Eagles would have taken Cooks if he had been there at No. 22, I believe, and they immediately moved down after he came off the board. (In fact, Green Bay at No. 21 was an option, too.)

With great respect to Marques Colston, Cooks immediately becomes the most talented and explosive wideout on the Saints. Lance Moore and Darren Sproles are gone, which removes 108 catches from last year's offense. Kenny Stills is around, and clearly Jimmy Graham will get his, but Cooks should catch 70-plus passes in this offense.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst