Who'll make the most impact?


Which rookie will have the most impact in 2014?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,774)


Out on a limb

Jr. By Mel Kiper Jr.

I see Todd going with chalk, so I'll take a little bit of a risk here.

On offense, I'll go with Dri Archer of Kent State. I know Archer is going to draw comparisons to Darren Sproles due to his diminutive 5-foot-8, 175-pound frame, but he could be even more explosive than Sproles, and capable of being used in more places. Archer, who ran the fastest 40 at the combine in a freakishly low 4.26 and jumped 38 inches in the vertical, can do it on the run and with the pass.

This is a guy who ran the ball more than 300 times at Kent State and averaged 7.2 yards per carry, and his 99 catches showed off his soft hands. He also adds pop in the return game. But why a rookie of the year? Because I don't think you draft Archer as high as the third round unless you have plans to get him the ball. I know he's a longer shot, but I think, in the right system, Archer can make plays and put together some totals.

On defense, I'll go with Chris Borland of Wisconsin. Borland isn't the fastest or tallest player, and he lacks long arms. But what he does is play a position (inside linebacker) that traditionally sees players contributing early, and what he brings is a level of instinct and a knack for making big hits at and behind the line of scrimmage. Bottom line with Borland: There's no reason to draft him unless you plan to play him, and right away. He's not going to become a better athlete, and he already has great experience and doesn't need the development. You draft him to play him and let him lead your team in tackles. That could happen, and that's why he's my pick.

Mel Kiper Jr. has been ESPN's NFL draft expert for more than 30 seasons and has published a draft report for 35 years. He also can be found on Twitter at @MelKiperESPN.

Going chalk

McShay By Todd McShay
Scouts Inc.

On offense, I'm going to go with Carlos Hyde, a running back out of Ohio State. He is the most NFL-ready and most talented all-around RB in this class. He has the power you need to be a successful inside runner, and he has the lateral agility and second gear you need to break free once you get to the second level.

Additionally, he can catch the ball very well -- a lot better than you might expect given he had 34 catches in his Ohio State career -- and he's a good blocker in pass protection, which is essential for rookie running backs in terms of being able to stay on the field. He'd be a good value for teams looking to add a running back in the mid- to late-second round, and I think the New England Patriots would be a perfect fit for him, if he's still available at No. 62 overall.

On defense, I'm going with chalk again and taking South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney. There has been a lot of discussion lately about what he can't do, and about his perceived work-ethic issues and speeding tickets and other concerns. But none of those factors take away from the fact that he is the best prospect in this entire draft.

He is the most physically dominant defensive lineman I've ever evaluated in terms of the physical tools he brings to the table. He'll have some adjusting to do at the NFL level, just like all rookies do, in particular adding a wider array of pass-rush moves (he was too reliant on his swim move at South Carolina). But he is fully capable of coming in as a rookie and having a monster impact right away.

Todd McShay is the director of college scouting for Scouts Inc. He has been evaluating prospects for the NFL draft since 1998. Follow McShay on Twitter at @McShay13.


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