<
>
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
Get ESPN+

Kiper's instant-impact rookies: 2019 NFL draft picks who will play early

play
Kiper predicts Raiders will win the AFC West (1:34)

Mel Kiper Jr. expects the Raiders to win the AFC West next season after Jon Gruden's great 2019 NFL draft. (1:34)

The 2019 NFL draft has come and gone, and now we can focus on how those 254 prospects fit into their new teams' plans. Yes, several first-round picks will be guaranteed starters when training camp begins, but the league's best teams find multiple starters throughout their class. Just look at what the Colts did in 2018.

By now hopefully you've seen my draft grades for all 32 teams, and now let's evaluate the rookies I think will make an early impact, from each day of the draft. This is more about having a clear role, not coming in and dominating from the outset.

Here are 15 rookies selected in Rounds 1-7 who will make an immediate impact:


Round 1

Here are five prospect-to-team fits I really liked in the first round:

Ed Oliver, DT, Buffalo Bills

Pick: No. 9

My pal Louis Riddick said on TV several times over the past few months that Oliver was used incorrectly in college. Why is an athlete like Oliver -- he has one of the fastest first steps off the ball of any defensive tackle I've ever scouted -- playing nose tackle? Buffalo will play him as a 3-technique tackle in its 4-3 defense, in place of the retired Kyle Williams, and he's going to be a disruptive presence. No, he's not Aaron Donald like some were calling him last summer -- he is still developing consistent pass-rush moves -- but Oliver will destroy double-teams and cause wreckage in the backfield.

Because of the Bills' offensive struggles in 2018, the defense went under the radar; it was the top-ranked pass defense, allowing only 179.2 yards per game, and gave up only 294.1 total yards per game. This is a young, talented and physical group. Oliver fills an immediate need.

Garrett Bradbury, C, Minnesota Vikings

Pick: No. 18

Yes, offensive linemen picked in the first round are supposed to start on Day 1 with their new teams. But I want to highlight Bradbury here because of the way he instantly makes the Vikings better. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was just OK last season, but it was the Minnesota running game that disappointed most, as its 93.3 yards per game ranked 30th in the league. And in the Vikings' new zone-blocking scheme, the athletic Bradbury is a perfect fit at center, allowing Pat Elflein to move to guard. That helps turn a huge weakness into a potential strength.

With an improved running game, Cousins will be improved, too. And in Year 2 of his three-year deal, the offense must be more complete for the Vikings to get back to the playoffs.