As we look back at the 2011 NFL Draft, it was probably one of the more productive drafts in the history of the NFL. Five of the top 35 picks were Pro-Bowl candidates to include four of the top 5 picks. With guys like JJ Watt, Marcell Dareus and Julio Jones all having break out seasons as well. You will need to keep an eye on these 7 players from the 2011 NFL Draft who I think will have a huge impact in the 2012 NFL season for their respectful teams.
In the first round of last year’s draft, there were tons of guys who stood out looked very good, but the guy I think will have the biggest impact for his team in 2012 is the 9th pick in the draft Tyron Smith of the Dallas Cowboys. Smith was a right tackle in college and has been getting reps at left tackle. This year, watch how much Smith has grown by just lining up across from DeMarcus Ware every play. I believe that Tyron Smith is going to be a very special player this year. I know that he is a lineman, but he is going to have to be a major difference maker for the Cowboys this year if they want to get to the Playoffs.
The player in the second round that I believe will be a huge asset to his team if he stays healthy will be the 38th pick in the draft to the Arizona Cardinals. Ryan Williams was hurt last season, but coming out of college was rated as one of the top backs in the NCAA. Williams is a mixture of power and speed. The running back situation in Arizona has been on the back of Chris Beanie Wells for the past couple seasons. Well with a healthy Ryan Williams in the mix, watch out for him to be a guy that comes in right away and begins moving the chains.
In the third round I am a little bias, but let’s be honest with the 68th pick in the draft, the Buffalo Bills selected Kelvin Sheppard from LSU. In his first year at the end of the seasons he was one of the Bills best linebackers. This year he has already lost 20 pounds and looks better than ever. He is moving better and is already engraved as the starting middle linebacker in the Bills new 4-3 scheme. Watch out for Sheppard this year, the kid is going to be a vocal leader on a veteran defense.
In the fourth round the Washington Redskins picked a player in Roy Helu with the 105th pick who they probably didn’t envision starting right away. Well that won’t be the case this year, Helu finished the season etching his name into the starting role. Helu the former Cornhusker, is ready to be that force behind new rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III to help the Skins get to the Playoffs. Watch out fantasy owners, Helu is going to be a good back to own in all leagues.
The player in the fifth round that I believe will have a good role for his team is Denarius Moore. I know he had a great year last year with Oakland but this kid is going to show out again. He is the number one receiver in Oakland right now and is building up a great relationship with Carson Palmer. I wouldn’t have put him on the list because he had such a great season last year, but I love this kid, he is a gamer. He is a true deep threat and a pick that the Raiders truly hit on late in the draft.
I really feel that that the sixth rounder Charles Clay will be a guy that continues to succeed in the Dolphins offensive scheme. The Dolphins spent a 174th pick on Clay who is a good blocker and has very good hands. They used him a lot like Daniel Fells was used when he was with the Saint Louis Rams. Last year the fullback from Tulsa had some good games. In the offense that Joe Philbin is implementing in Miami he will be used as a hole opener, but will mean a lot to the team.
A seventh rounder very rarely sees the field even after a few years, but they can play major roles on Special Teams, and for that I chose the 206th pick in the NFL Draft. Justin Rogers became a return specialist for the Buffalo Bills near the end of the year, and to be honest, he was one of the lonely bright spots at the end of the season. He is a very explosive return man, who you will need to keep an eye on next year.