With the NFL Draft behind us, it’s time to evaluate the rookie class and spot some players who will have an immediate fantasy impact on their respective teams.


#1 Jermaine Gresham, TE, Cincinnati Bengals: This is a great pick for the Bengals and one that was predicted by astute NFL Draft analyst, Adam Poedubicky. Carson Palmer has never had a true threat at the tight end position. The 6’6″ Gresham will give satisfy that need, giving Palmer a huge target over the middle. Some pundits were a little concerned about Gresham’s ACL injury that caused him to miss his senior season at Oklahoma. However, Gresham had an excellent rampart with quarterback Sam Bradford in 2008 when he hauled in 66 passes for 950 yards and 14 touch downs. Gresham will give the Bengals a solid receiving option behind Chad Ocho Cinco and Antonio Bryant.

#2 Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers: The Fresno State product will get an immediate opportunity to make an impact. The Chargers cut future Hall of Fame running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, earlier this off-season. The Chargers thought so highly of Mathews that traded up 16 spots to select him at pick 12. Mathews carried the ball 276 times for 1,808 yards and 19 scores during his junior season with the Bulldogs. Mathews has the ability to be a three-down back in the NFL who will be able to provide a nice compliment to change-of-pace back, Darren Sproles. With the departure of Tomlinson, 730 yards and 12 touchdowns are suddenly vacated. FANTASYYYYYYYYYY

#3 Demaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos: The Broncos used their #22 overall selection on Thomas, who was the first receiver selected in the draft. The 6’3″, 229 lb. Thomas grabbed 46 passes for 1,164 yards and 8 TDs during his 3rd season with the Yellow Jackets. Prior to the draft, the Broncos shipped out disgruntled receiver, Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins. Apparently, Thomas does not have any character issues, so that is a positive. Thomas ran a 4.49 40-yard dash so he adds a fast, physical option to a smallish Denver receiving core. Rookie receivers typically have a slower transition to the NFL, so bare with him. We really don’t know who Denver’s opening week quarterback will be (either Kyle Orton or Brady Quinn, sorry Tim Tebow), but Thomas should definitely help whoever is under center.

#4 CJ Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills: The Buffalo Bills spent the 9th overall selection on Clemson running back, CJ Spiller. Spiller has received comparison’s Titans All-Pro running back, Chris Johnson. Spiller is a smaller running back, standing at 5’11 and weighing only 195 lbs, but he makes up for that with explosive play making ability. He scored 51 TDs in four season at Clemson including four special teams touchdowns during his senior year.

The Bills current have running backs, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson currently on their roster. Bills management has clamored that they will keep both backs, limiting Spiller’s upside. If Lynch is dealt, I will feel a lot better about Spiller’s 2010 fantasy prospects. Spiller is way too explosive to stand on the sidelines and will definitely get the team’s special teams touches.

#5 Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have high hopes for the Oklahoma State product. Bryant fell all the way to pick 24 before the Cowboys traded up to select him.

Why I’m not excited about Bryant in 2010: Football is only played with one ball.

The Cowboys have a laundry list of great receiving options already. Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Roy Williams, Felix Jones, Marion Barber III. Patrick Crayton has apparently asked for a trade, so if Bryant can take Crayton’s 2009 production(622 yards, 5 TDs), it’ll be a success. Bryant will make an impact with the Cowboys. That impact may not be great in 2010.

#6 Arrelious Benn, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to nab Benn in 2nd round. Many believed that the Illinois product would be a first round pick, but he fell to a Bucs team who does not have a true #1 receiver. Leading receiver, Antonio Bryant bolted for the Bengals this off-season leaving the Bucs with a plethora of mediocre options. Benn was limited by an ankle injury during his junior year at Illinois. However, he excelled during his sophomore season, pulling in 67 passes for 1,055 yards. Benn ran a 4.42 at the NFL combine and will definitely be in the running to start on Opening Week. The Bucs will definitely be trailing in many games this season, so they’ll be throwing the ball. Benn could form a nice rapture with 2nd year quarterback, Josh Freeman. Rookie receivers typical start slowly in the NFL so bear with him.

#7 Golden Tate, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Seattle head coach, Pete Carroll selected one of the players that gave him trouble during his tenure at USC. During his junior year, the Notre Dame product caught 93 passes for roughly 1,500 yards and 15 TDs. The Seahawks have two solid receiving options in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and tight end and Notre Dame alum, John Carlson. Look for Tate to help out on special teams while working into the offense.

Other Notables:

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Carolina Panthers: The Panthers may have gotten the biggest steal in the draft. Clausen, regarded by most as a Top 5 talent, fell all the way to pick 48. Matt Moore is the incumbent starter in Carolina, but Clausen will figure into the starting competition. Carolina has a loaded back field with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, so that will take a lot of pressure off the Notre Dame product.

Joe McKnight, RB, New York Jets: The Jets newest running back will look to make an immediate impact in 2010. Incumbent running back Thomas Jones was cut prior to the draft and change of pace back Leon Washington was shipped to Seattle. Shonn Greene figures to garner the majority of carries with McKnight playing the Washington role in the offense and on special teams.

Brandon Lafell, WR, Carolina Panthers: The athletic  LSU product will probably see some snaps this season. Receivers Steve Smith, 30, and Mushin Muhammed, 36, will start for the Panthers, but the injection of new blood will help keep the older bodies fresh.

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis Rams: Bradford will take his lumps this season. The Rams will probably start him Week 1 and it won’t be pretty. Last year’s #1 pick, Lions Quarterback, Matthew Stafford started Week 1 and suffered a weekly beat down, but he survived. Survival is the key word for Bradford this season. Stafford benefited by having a freak of a receiver, Calvin Johnson. This is something that Bradford will not have. However, Bradford will have a great running back in Steven Jackson who will take off some of the pressure. Here’s to hoping that Bradford won’t be broken in half in 2010.

Who are you looking forward to watching in 2010?