On Monday night at the ESPN Zone in Baltimore, I spent a couple of hours with you -- ESPN.com readers and Insiders -- debating and discussing last week's NFL draft. There's always disagreement and conjecture about grades, and before I list the first-round guys who I think could make the biggest impact, I will say that I don't like one grade just a few days after giving it.
I was too hard on the Miami Dolphins. I've already said how much I like Jared Odrick, but aside from the recent addition of Brandon Marshall, I think Koa Misi from Utah could be better than I had judged. I think he'll convert to outside linebacker much more easily than I expected, giving the Dolphins a chance to have essentially three pretty impactful players (including Marshall) from one draft class early next season. I really like Misi's chance to start the more I look into that situation.
But enough about where I screwed up. Starting Tuesday with Round 1 and following with Rounds 2-7 later in the week, I'll pick out teams that could see the quickest impact from rookies in the upcoming season. This year, it starts in Detroit.
1. Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best
On Monday night at the Insider event, one question was framed around the Detroit Lions and essentially boiled down to this: Are Suh and Best impact players because they really are that good or because they're going to Detroit, where even average players will make an impact?
Sure, the Lions have an edge because they had two first-round picks, but my answer is that Suh and Best should help that team immediately, and partly because the Lions under general manager Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz didn't use the draft alone to improve this team. Start with Suh, who isn't simply stepping into a massive void on the interior of Detroit's defensive line. The Lions also went out and added Corey Williams along the interior and Kyle Vanden Bosch on the edge of that 4-3 to make Suh's transition easier. Suh was the highest-rated player on my Big Board for much of the year because double-teams were often useless against him. Because the Lions added talent to that front, they've created a situation in which Suh has a chance to thrive, and early. Again, impact doesn't happen just because there's a void.
As for Best, Schwartz has made it known in sometimes hilarious fashion how much he likes the talent out of Cal, and with incumbent Kevin Smith coming off an injury, expect Detroit to not only use Best often but also help him by spreading out defenses with additions to its receiving corps and (presumably) the growth of Matthew Stafford. Remember, Stafford was the age of a college senior last year in a league in which guys who start that young struggle as a rule. Best simply isn't far at all behind C.J. Spiller. Same size, same speed, same propensity for the huge play. Best fell in the draft because of his track record with a couple of injuries. He has a chance to be a highlight machine, and the Ford Field turf will help.