17. Miami Dolphins: Lamar Miller/RB
The Dolphins’ 2012 fourth-round pick is the reason why Miami let Reggie Bush walk right out the building. Miller has more patience, speed and has more size without giving up any quickness. The former Hurricane averaged 4.9 yards a pop on 51 carries for the season. Second year starting QB Ryan Tannehill said Miller is heads and shoulders above the running back group right now.
18. Minnesota Vikings: Cordarelle Patterson/WR
Watching film on Patterson will leave you sick to your stomach figuratively and literally. His abilities in the open field are second to none. When the ball is in his hands, it instantly becomes a punt return. However, he routinely catches the ball with his body, will have “focus-drops,” and is a below-average route runner. Besides special team, it’s hard to tell if he will have an immediate impact at the WR position. Although, with Percy Harvin traded to Seattle, Patterson may inherit a significant role.
19. New England Patriots: Aaron Dobson/WR
Another rookie wideout debuts on this list. The 6’3” 204 pound WR known as ‘Muscles’ has a knack for making the highlight reel catch. He possesses strong hands, springs implanted in his quads and attended the University of Marshall. Why does where he went to school matter? The only time Tom Brady had a premier receiver was Randy Moss. Where did he go to school? Marshall. Aren’t you glad I didn’t say Tebow?
20. New Orleans Saints: Kenny Vaccaro/S
Three rookies in a row lets you know the NFL is a “What have you done for me lately league.” The Saints statistically had the worst defense in NFL history this past season. The addition of the pompous Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator is a start, but they still have a long way to go to turn this defense around. New Orleans ranked 31st in passing defense and ranked dead last (32nd) in rushing defense. Selecting the most coveted safety 15th overall was chosen to become the Saints defensive leader on and off the field. A tall task for a rookie.
21. New York Giants: David Wilson/RB
The former first rounder has ‘breakout’ written all over him. He was put into Tom Coughlin’s doghouse because of an ill-advised fumble in the first game of the season. After spurts of big time plays during the season including a 97-yard kickoff return, Wilson was a constant contributor down the stretch. With the departure of Ahmad Bradshaw, it’s Wilson’s job to lose.
22. New York Jets: Mark Sanchez/QB
Maybe I butt fumbled into a typo, but that actually says Mark Sanchez. Reports from camp are saying Sanchez has never had a better looking off-season, but it’s only June. Sanchez is on a short leash especially with the arrival of second-round draft pick Geno Smith. If Sanchez show the slightest sign of a decline in play, coach Rex Ryan won’t hesitate to pull Sanchez. The pressure continues to add up for the often bashed quarterback. If he doesn’t produce this year, he’ll be on the chopping block by the end of the season.
23. Oakland Raiders: Tyler Wilson/QB
Matt Flynn may get overthrown by another Wilson in Oakland, Tyler Wilson. Russell Wilson and Tyler Wilson have no relation to each other, but Flynn is probably wishing they didn’t share the same surname either. During the pre-draft process, I had Wilson as the best quarterback coming out the draft. Flynn may get the early nod, but the new regime will be tempted to put in their guy.
24. Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson/OT
Big people need love too. The Eagles might have reached a bit to select Johnson with the no. 4 overall pick in the 2013 draft, but something had to be done about the blind side of whoever starts at QB for the Eagles. Michael Vick has the second most turnovers in the last two years, second to only Sanchez. Vick does hold on to the ball at times, but he needs a balanced running game and protection. Johnson was drafted to become the solution for both of those problems.
25. Pittsburgh Steelers: Jarvis Jones/OLB
It was simply unfair for Jarvis Jones to slide to the already vaunted Pittsburgh defense. ‘Sacman’ Jones was slotted to go as high a no. 2 overall, but his draft stock took a hit because of a spinal condition. In Pittsburgh fashion, they selected the fiercest pass rushing linebacker in the draft. Jones tallied 28 sacks in two season at Georgia, 14.5 in 2012-13 season. Leading sack man for the Steelers this past season was Lawrence Timmons with 6. Jones will line up opposite of Timmons on the right side to provide a fearsome tandem.
26. San Diego Chargers: Danario Alexander/WR
“If Alexander ever had healthy knees, man.” This is the ongoing story line for the gifted, but often injured wide receiver. The 6’5” 217 pound gazelle was a freak of nature down the stretch scoring seven touchdowns in the final 10 games. He showed flashes of brilliance in St. Louis, but he never remain healthy. Alexander will enter 2013 as Rivers top target, but his knees still worry me.
27. San Francisco 49ers: Marcus Lattimore/RB
The last time the ’9ers took a running back with multiple knees surgeries in college, it worked out for them. see Frank Gore. If Lattimore was healthy, without a doubt he would’ve been the first running back off the board. San Francisco may have drafted damaged goods, but the upside was too much for them to pass up.
28. Seattle Seahawks: Percy Harvin/WR
On any day, Harvin can be the best player on the field. Hands down. He only played nine games this past season due to a high ankle sprain, then he was dealt to the Seahawks because of disputes in contract negotiations. Harvin will be used in a plethora of ways in Seattle. He is one of the top playmakers in the NFL today. The QB switch from Christian Ponder to Russell Wilson will only elevate his play on the field.
29. St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford/QB
Most would point out the most dynamic player in the draft to be the player to watch as the Rams traded up to pick Tavon Austin with the no. 8 overall pick, but what about the guy throwing him the ball? Bradford is a legitimate 6’4″, a live arm, underrated mobility and clutch in late game situations. Now, surrounded with a young but talented receiving core and prized free agent acquisitions like Jared Cook and Jake Long, the former Heisman Trophy winner and his Rams have the potential to be the surprise team in the NFL this year.
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Darrelle Revis/CB
Only playing in two games for the Jets in ’12, Revis Island has been submerged, but he know he has a lot to prove as he suits up for the Bucs’ in 2013. Tampa Bay had the 32nd ranked passing defense giving up 297. 4 yards per game. Revis was specifically brought in to fix this whole in the secondary.
31. Tennessee Titans: Derrick Morgan/DE
Morgan is an absolute freak in stature. From year one to three, his sack totals have increased every season. Tennessee is normally know for having a physical defense stemming from the Jeff Fisher days, but they took a step back in ’12 ranking 27th overall. It starts with getting to the quarterback in today’s NFL and getting to the QB is in Morgan’s DNA. Expect 10+ sacks from Morgan this season.
32. Washing Redskins: Phillip Thomas/Bacarri Rambo/S
Both the Redskins rookie safeties could see significant action this season. Brandon Merriweather is a solid starter when healthy, but that’s the thing, he’s missed 20 games the past two seasons. The other penciled in starter, Reed Doughty, doesn’t possess the upside or skill set of Rambo or Thomas. The Redskins 30th ranked pass defense can also attest to the mediocre play of Washington’s safeties. Both are center-field type safeties, so it remains to be seen how both will be on the field at the same time.