Last week I did 2 Top 10 lists. I had a list of the most overrated players & a list of 10 players every football team could use. Today's list will be a little bit different. This will be 10 players that I expect to have instant success as a rookie. 10 plug & play type players. I'll attempt to think outside of the box & not just list the top 10 picks, because that's pretty much a cop out. I'll also try to keep it as Charger-ish as I can, so no quarterbacks, running backs, or tight ends. So without further ado:
10. Taylor Hart, Defensive End, Oregon
Hart is a guy that will go to a team that needs a 3-4 defensive end(cough cough), step in right away, and do a great job. He's 6'6, 281 pounds, has great length & strength. Hart is good at using his length to stack and shed blocks. Couple that with the fact he is a high motor player & I have no question Hart will be a long time starter in the league. He won't go high because he's not a sack artist, but don't be mistaken, Hart is a legit talent in the draft.
9. Christian Kirksey, Linebacker, Iowa
The 233 pound linebacker will likely get the label as undersized, but when you can diagnose plays as quickly as Kirksey can, size isn't an issue. Kirksey can play both on the weak or strong side in the 4-3, and I wouldn't put it past him to excel as an inside linebacker. He's not flashy, he won't make the big hit, but he'll make the right play, and finish it. He can play and excel on 3rd downs in both zone & man coverage. Kirksey is a guy that can play in space, and will be another guy that I expect to start in the NFL for a long time.
8. Weston Richburg, Center, Colorado State
This is turning out to be a "all non flashy list." I had a chance to speak with Richburg at the Senior Bowl, and he was oozing with confidence, and I love that about him. Richburg is a guy that plays with very good technique, and just gets guys blocked. He's not going to over power you, but at the same time, he's not weak by any means. I think calling him a 'zone' scheme center is a compliment to his awareness, lateral ability, and ability to execute blocks on the next level. Throw in Richburg's positional versatility and guys like that stick around in the league for quite some time.
7. Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State
A top 5 performer at the combine in the 40 yard dash(3rd), bench press(3rd), vertical jump(3rd), broad jump(2nd), & 3 cone(3rd.) But Bucannon is far from a workout warrior. He might be the most complete safety in the draft. If he can fix his eye discipline/over aggressiveness, he could very well be a star in this league. There's a little tightness when it comes to guarding slots, but as far as matching up with Tight Ends, there shouldn't be an issue. He has underrated range/speed to play the single high safety, but best of all, his run support. He will come up, and knock you out. Because of this, I think Bucannon might emerge as the best safety in this class in a few years.
6. Joel Bitonio, OL, Nevada
Bitonio has said himself that teams want him to play center. He's shown that he can excel at guard, and the projection of him being a guard is very high. What you want in a lineman is a finisher, and that's exactly what Bitonio is. He's an ideal zone lineman. Is great on inside zone, and working to the second level. Bitonio can also mirror the defender and will keep the quarterback clean. Though he'll need to improve on his pad level, Bitonio is a guy that should thrive early on if put into a zone scheme.
5. Telvin Smith, Linbebacker, Florida State
One of the most frustrating things throughout this draft process was hearing people suggest moving Telvin to safety. Yes, he's undersized. But if you move a player away from where his greatest strengths are, he's no longer the same player. Smith is an athlete that can flat out fly. He takes on blocks much better than you'd expect a 220 pound linebacker to. Telvin is underrated at slipping blocks in tight spaces. His anticipation & instincts>size. Just let him run and make plays, that's where his money will be made at the next level. If you put him on the field, he'll make plays. Smith is rangy versus the run, gets great depth in zone against the pass, and is fluid/fast enough to cover in man coverage. His improvements over the years leave me to believe he'll be successful in the NFL early, especially in a pass happy league.
4. Demarcus Lawrence, Edge Rusher, Boise State
A lot of times pass rushers come into the league and have no clue how to use their hands. That's why they usually get off to a slow start. That won't be the case with Lawrence. Not only is Lawrence usually the first person off of the snap and show the ability to bend the edge, but he has powerful, active hands, to keep himself clean from lineman. Lawrence displayed the ability to shed blocks & use his hands at a high rate, for that reason, I think he'll be able to succeed early in the NFL.
3. Kyle Van Noy, Football Player, BYU
There's nothing he can't do on the field. Because of this, he's going to be just as good in the NFL as he was in college. I wrote about Van Noy before, he's another guy that you just put on the football field and let him play. He's disruptive enough to play off the edge, athletic enough to play in space or in coverage, and smart enough to diagnose run plays or react to the run. I don't think there's a player in this draft with better instincts than Van Noy. I have a hard time imagining him not being successful early on, and throughout his career at the next level.
2. Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
It's rare that defensive backs, especially corners, succeed early in their NFL career. Because of this, I'm leery of drafting a corner in the 1st round. However, if there's one that will, I believe Fuller is a player that will be successful from the jump. I love his aggression, even if it'll get him in trouble at times. Fuller has arguably the best route recognition in the class, and his ability to transfer out of his breaks, and use his length to be disruptive at the catch point is the reason he should be the best corner in the class. Fuller can play on an island, play on, off, in the slot, blitz off the edge, and play the run. He's the best defensive back in the class.
1. Odell Beckham Jr., Wide Receiver, LSU
I've made no mistake about how I feel about Beckham as a receiver. What's important to be successful at the next level? You not only have to catch the ball, but be able to catch the ball in traffic. Beckham does this at an elite level. You also need to be able to win early in the route, off press coverage, and late in the route, to create separation. Beckham has these skills and does this at a high level. Beckham's ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls, finish in traffic, and maximize yardage after the catch leave me reaching for reasons he can't be successful in the NFL, and I can't find a reason.
Obviously, the situation will be key to how successful he is, and most of these players. But I believe these are the most NFL ready, plug and play type players. Beckham is the highest, because he offers the best skill set with the most versatility. His explosiveness should be on display even more at the next level.