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Are the St. Louis Rams really attempting to replace Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson with fifth round rookie Zac Stacy? In one sense, at least, the answer appears to be yes. Shockingly enough, the strategy could pay off.
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The Seahawks struck gold in the fifth round under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll before, landing Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor. Could former Alabama strongman Jesse Williams make the league's stingiest defense even more ferocious?
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It's hard for a rookie to make an impact for a club as talented as the 49ers. Take last year, for example, when not a single start was made by a first-year player for Jim Harbaugh's club. With the range to potentially prove an upgrade over Pro Bowler and free agent defection Dashon Goldson, however, 2013 first-round pick Eric Reid won't be on the sideline for long.
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Opponents who aren't wary of Tyrann Mathieu in 2013 could be taking a bigger gamble than the one that the Arizona Cardinals made in selecting the former LSU star in the third round.
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The Chargers (and everyone else) expect their first two picks of the 2013 draft -- OT D.J. Fluker and ILB Manti Te'o -- to play immediately. Wideout Keenan Allen will prove a steal in the third round. Williams, overshadowed by Allen and others at Cal, could prove the most pleasant surprise of San Diego's rookie crop.
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Former UConn standout Sio Moore could prove to be the big play specialist that Oakland has been searching for at linebacker. The third-round pick is one of several standouts in what might be the draft class that helps rebuild the Raiders' mystique.
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While Kansas City landed an excellent tackle at the No. 1 spot, it's third-round TE Travis Kelce who could make the surprise early impact.
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With defenses focusing on slowing down Peyton Manning, the NCAA's career leader in rushing touchdowns, Montee Ball, looks like a big hit in Denver.
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Half of the defensive line which helped Tampa Bay lead the NFL in run defense a year ago is now playing elsewhere. Rather than panic, general manager Mark Dominic and head coach Greg Schiano found similarly gifted (but younger and cheaper) players in the draft as replacements, including potential starting nose guard Akeem Spence.
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The Saints finished dead last in 2012 against the run. Big John Jenkins -- all 6-foot-4, 346 pounds of him -- could be the run-stuffing presence New Orleans needs to return to the top of the NFC South.
 
 

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