When the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl following the 2008 season, they did it with a rookie draft class that combined to play 125 regular-season snaps, fewest in the league and well off the 1,535 average for the other 31 teams. The 2012 San Francisco 49ers reached the Super Bowl with a rookie draft class that played 100 snaps, a league low that season. It was a similar story last season when Seattle and Denver ranked among the bottom three in drafted rookie snaps.
It isn't always this way, of course, but as the 2014 draft approaches, those examples remind us that selecting players fresh out of college is often more about the future than the present. Not everyone can afford to take the longer view, however. Some teams need high-impact rookie classes in a big way.
The New York Giants, St. Louis Rams, 49ers, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers fit into that category through a confluence of factors. Here we consider how well-positioned each of them are to get what they need from this draft. The outlook is brighter for some than for others.
New York Giants
Why they're on the list: There’s pressure on the Giants’ leadership to break the team’s recent run of mediocrity. A flurry of lower-impact moves in free agency felt good and could lead to improvement, but it isn't going to solve the situation overnight. It’s reasonable to think the Giants will have better luck with injuries, but they lack star power either way unless Eli Manning reverses his recent downward turn. The team would love to maintain a long-range strategy, but like it or not, the roster has declined to the point that the Giants need immediate impact from this draft.
Chances for success: Low.