Seven Rookies that Should Factor

Rookies generally are not expected to become immediate impact players at the professional level. While many have stepped into the pro ranks and performed remarkably well, the rule is never anticipate great things in Year One. Despite this notion, here are seven rookies on the offensive side of the ball selected in the first round of the draft who could make an immediate impact in the 2005 season. And, no, the 49ers' Alex Smith - the overall No. 1 selection - is not among them.

1. Cedric Benson – RB; Chicago – Cedric Benson isn't guaranteed a starting spot heading into training camp, but he was not selected to sit on the bench. Veteran Thomas Jones will battle to retain his starting role, but Benson's toughness and inside running style is tailor-made for the ball-control Chicago offensive scheme. Look for Benson and Jones to share the load early in the season, with Benson becoming the feature back and Jones filling the third-down receiving back role due to his versatility and threat coming out of the backfield. Quarterback Rex Grossman is back, Mushin Muhammad comes over to be the Bears threat at receiver, leaving the middle of the field for Benson to roam.

2. Carnell Williams – RB; Tampa Bay – Carnell Williams will be given every opportunity to win the starting job, it is his job to lose heading into training camp. Versatile and explosive, Williams is a natural fit for the Jon Gruden offense in Tampa Bay and could put up better statistics than Benson and Brown due to his ability to remain on the field, regardless of the situation. Tough and powerful with exceptional speed, Williams should move the chains and help an inconsistent Buccaneers offense. Williams could quickly become quarterback Brian Griese's best friend.

3. Ronnie Brown – RB; Miami – The potential return of running back Ricky Williams could reduce the necessity to rush Ronnie Brown as the main-weapon within the new look Miami offensive scheme. Due to his ability as a ball carrier and receiver coming out of the backfield, Brown will be counted on to produce immediately, but expect him to share the load with Williams, if the later is on the roster heading into the regular season. Despite Williams' presence, the Dolphins are expected to emphasize Brown's dynamic ability. Below average offensive line play and a lack of playmakers in the backfield throttled the Miami offensive in 2004, Brown should be the remedy to what ailed the Dolphins last season.

4. Braylon Edwards – WR; Cleveland – Edwards' arrival in Cleveland is expected to bring excitement and a playmaking threat to the offensively challenged Browns. Edwards will be given every opportunity to become the go-to guy in the Browns offense, as he and veteran Trent Dilfer have hit it off in his short time in Cleveland. Cleveland has some talent at the receiver position, giving Edwards the opportunity to see man-to-man coverage early and often in his rookie campaign. His exceptional speed and quickness, along with a natural fluidness should provide the Browns with a solid, if not spectacular option in the passing game.

5. Mike Williams - WR; Detroit – Granted, there is only one football and the Lions have three potentially exceptional receivers (Williams, Charles Rogers, and Roy Williams). Add to the mix the rushing threat of Kevin Jones, these Lions could be a force heading into the 2005 season. There will be a lot of competition at the wide receiver position, but Mike Williams has the size, strength, and receiving skills to become a vital option in this offense. He should become an immediate red-zone threat and could be a factor immediately due to the injury issues which has hampered Rogers.

6. Troy Williamson – WR; Minnesota – Troy Williamson is as talented as any receiver which came out in the 2005 draft. His tremendous speed, athletic ability, and desire to improve make him a serious talent. His speed is a great fit for the Vikings offense, and he will be counted on to provide the Vikings with the deep threat potential lost in the trade of Randy Moss. Williamson should not be counted on to become the next Moss, especially in his first-season, but he should amply fill the void of speed at the wide receiver position for the Vikings.

7. J.J. Arrington – RB; Arizona – A tough and deceptive runner, Arrington is expected to be the opening day starter for the Cardinals. Head coach Dennis Green loves Arrington's toughness, vision, and natural running ability, while being a better threat coming out of the backfield than many realize. Arrington's main competition comes from Marcel Shipp, which should make for an interesting summer for the Cardinals. Scouts are divided as to the potential and success Arrington will have at the next level, but in the Arizona camp the organization is quite pleased with the rookie.

Niners Digest Top Stories