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May 1, 2006

Top ten impact rookies

The NFL Draft has come and gone. The talk of superstars, sleepers and sliding prospects is behind us.

Some All-Americans will have to wait their turn. Some undrafted free agents will have an immediate impact on special teams.

No matter where players were selected or what they did in college, they now share the same label: rookie.

Rivals.com has paired up with Frank Coyle, head scout and publisher of www.draftinsiders.com, for its coverage of the 2006 draft.

Now that the picks have been made, we've asked Coyle to tell us which NFL newcomers he thinks will play right away. Below is a list of our top 10 impact rookies.

Ten impact rookies
1. Reggie Bush Southern Cal - RB 5-11, 200 lbs. New Orleans Saints
Bush is a rare athlete with the ability to be a difference-maker and a major NFL performer. He gives this changing offense a Marshall Faulk-type weapon with explosive running and rare receiving skills for the position. He has the ability to hit the home run as a runner, receiver or return specialist, and should be the next magical NFL performer .
2. Joseph Addai - LSU - RB 5-11, 210 lbs. Indianapolis Colts
Pick of this well-developed back may have shocked some fans, but he has the talent to give the Colts a prime replacement for Edgerrin James immediately. He is an ideal fit here with the speed and quickness to win the starting job as a rookie. He is a good receiver and should be a natural in this offense. Remember Colts GM Bill Polian took James over Ricky Williams and that worked out great for the Colts. They usually land the guy who is the best fit for them.
3. Santonio Holmes - Ohio State - WR 5-11, 205 lbs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers moved up to select this playmaker. Holmes addresses a major need after the loss of veteran free agents at this position in recent years. He is a fine complement opposite Hines Ward and should compete for a starting job immediately. The Steelers have gotten their top picks into the offense quickly, and Holmes should follow that plan. His run-after-the-catch ability and sure hands should allow him to fill the slot receiver spot vacated by the departed Antwaan Randle El.
4. Sinorice Moss - Miami (Fla.) - WR 5-8, 183 lbs. New York Giants
Moss is a playmaker with the rare ability to hit top speed quickly. He should be an early performer as a slot receiver, where he should become a favorite of Eli Manning. Moss will usually line up in single coverage vs. nickel corners. His vertical speed and running ability could make him an instant hit in this offense.
5. A.J. Hawk - Ohio State - LB 6-1, 243 lbs. Green Bay Packers
Savvy defender may give the Packers the type of immediate impact and leadership that Brian Urlacher gave the Bears. His technique is outstanding, and he has the talent to be an every down defender. Hawk has the intangibles that will allow him to provide the fire needed for this struggling unit. He is the type of defender who can bring major improvement from Day One.
6. Brian Calhoun - Wisconsin - RB 5-10, 205 lbs. Detroit Lions.
This is a good pick in the third round. Calhoun is a performer with the talent to surprise and claim the starting job early in his career. He is a tough, compact runner with natural skills. He has the hands to be a third-down back as a rookie. He had more than 400 touches last fall and could be a huge surprise here with an opportunity to shock fans and win the starting job in camp.
7. Chad Jackson - Florida - WR 6-2, 205 lbs. New England Patriots
Big, athletic receiver was one of the best values in the entire draft. He addresses a major need in New England and should become a favorite of QB Tom Brady after free agent losses the past two offseasons. He has size and toughness to go over the middle and the separation speed to get deep. He is a fine compliment to their smaller receivers.
8. Greg Jennings - Western Michigan - WR 5-11, 197 lbs. Green Bay Packers
Talent and development plus opportunity equals impact in the NFL. Jennings is in an excellent situation with receivers Javon Walker and Terrence Murphy out in Green Bay. Jennings is a sure-handed receiver who runs great routes and gets open consistently. He should earn the slot receiver role this season and put up strong numbers working with veteran quarterback Brett Favre.
9. DeAngelo Williams - Memphis RB 5-8, 208 lbs. Carolina Panthers
Tough, well-rounded tailback gets into a nice situation behind veteran DeShaun Foster - who has struggled with injuries over his career. He has been a workhorse runner and can fill a number of roles, including starting feature back if Foster continues his tendency to get hurt.
10. Vernon Davis - Maryland - TE 6-2, 255 lbs. - San Francisco 49ers
Gifted athlete may rank behind only Reggie Bush in overall ability. He has wide receiver skills, speed, hands and run-after-the-catch ability. Whether young quarterback Alex Smith can get him the ball remains to be seen, but he can be a major playmaker in the NFL in the right setting. He is well developed as a receiver and is capable of putting up big numbers if used properly.

This is special to Rivals.com from Frank Coyle. Coyle has written about the NFL Draft in his newsletter for more than 15 years and has endorsements from NFL veterans like Gil Brandt, Phil Savage and Charley Casserly. Coyle's work can also be found at www.draftinsiders.com - where he offers a free NFL e-mail service. You may call Coyle toll-free at 800-776-1949.



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