ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. recently posted three pieces on potential early-impact rookies. His first piece focused on rookies drafted in the first round, the second on rounds 2 and 3, and the third on those drafted in rounds 4-7.
There were a total of six Big Ten players listed in the three articles. Here is a look at those six Big Ten prospects and what Kiper Jr. had to say about each of them.
No. 57: Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde (San Francisco 49ers)
“Hyde might start the year behind Frank Gore on the depth chart, but he’s the most explosive runner on that roster and will get his touches, ” Kiper Jr. said of Hyde. “Most importantly, he can pass block.” Read Kiper’s Day 2 early-impact rookies.
No. 59: Ohio State OT Jack Mewhort (Indianapolis Colts)
“Jack Mewhort will be needed, but also will be converting inside for Indianapolis.”
No. 61: Penn State WR Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
“Jaguars quarterbacks had a league-worst 45.4 Total QBR targeting wide receivers last year. Don’t assume these two (Robinson and Marqise Lee) will be effective because they’ll be catching passes from rookie QB Blake Bortles. I’d bet they’re impactful because Chad Henne is getting them the ball. Although I wouldn’t expect big numbers, what you can expect is that, on a depth chart that includes Cecil Shorts and Ace Sanders as the top options before the draft, these guys will both challenge to start early.”
No. 68: Wisconsin S Dezmen Southward (Atlanta Falcons)
“Dezmen Southward could start immediately at safety for the Falcons,” Kiper Jr. said. “Zeke Motta could be the guy he needs to beat out, and Southward is the more talented player.”
No. 71: Iowa LB Christian Kirksey (Cleveland Browns)
Craig Robertson was a sore spot in the Browns’ LB corps last year, and Kirksey can step in soon as one of the interior linebackers,” Kiper Jr. said. “He was taken in Round 3, when the entire northern Ohio region had to assume the Browns would be drafting a wide receiver. Assume he’ll start early.”
No. 131: Minnesota CB Brock Vereen (Chicago Bears)
All you need to know about the Bears’ safety situation is that they allowed a completion percentage of 55.3 percent on throws of 15-plus yards downfield last season. The Raiders were next closest at 49.3 percent. No job is safe at safety in Chicago. Read Kiper’s Day 3 early-impact rookies.