Multiple rookies will shine in the NFL in 2013, but not just the first-round picks. Several players who were drafted in rounds two through seven will also have a chance to make an immediate impact.
A substantial part of rookie success is "fit," players landing in the right position to see the field early. Last season, running back Alfred Morris was a sixth-round pick, but found himself in an ideal situation in Washington to win the Redskins' starting job, finishing second in the league with 1,613 rushing yards in 2012. Packers cornerback Casey Hayward was one of the final picks of the second round in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he earned his way onto the field in Green Bay and finished top five in the NFL in interceptions with six.
Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David are examples of other non-first round prospects from a year ago who made the most of their opportunities and made an immediate NFL impact.
The following dozen rookies weren't first rounders but are in opportunistic situations to start in 2013 and contribute early in their NFL careers.
(Rookies listed in order in which they were drafted)
SS Jonathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars (second round, 33rd overall)
With thin depth at the position, Cyprien will have every opportunity to win the starting strong safety job in training camp. And if he does, look for the former Florida International star to make an impact against both the pass and the run. Cyprien left FIU as the school's all-time leading tackler and will be productive in the NFL, too.
RB Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (second round, 37th overall)
The first running back off the board, Bernard is a poor man's Trent Richardson. He doesn't have the same type of power but has the burst and lateral quickness to make defenders miss and create. He has some durability concerns, but Bernard won't be asked to carry the load in Cincinnati, sharing backfield duties with incumbent starter BenJarvus Green-Ellis.
ILB Kiko Alonso, Buffalo Bills (second round, 46th overall)
The immediate reaction after Buffalo drafted Alonso was that he would push Kelvin Sheppard for the starting inside linebacker role in 2013. But Monday's trade sending Sheppard to the Indianapolis Colts for pass rusher Jerry Hughes is further proof that the Bills appear confident that Alonso will be able to handle the starting job as a rookie.
RB Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (second round, 48th overall)
The rookie running back with the easiest road to a NFL starting job might be Bell, who should be able to beat out Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman in training camp. Bell is a productive runner, but his impact catching the ball out of the backfield and in pass protection will likely earn him a good amount of playing time in year one of his NFL career.
CB Jamar Taylor, Miami Dolphins (second round, 54th overall)
Miami's starting corners entering training camp are expected to be Richard Marshall and Brent Grimes. Both battled serious injuries last season, and it would be somewhat surprising if both started all 16 games. Regardless, Taylor should see considerable playing time in sub-packages as the nickel cornerback and might be 2013's version of Casey Hayward.
LB Arthur Brown, Baltimore Ravens (second round, 56th overall)
If Taylor is this year's Hayward, then Brown might be 2013's version of Lavonte David, a slightly undersized linebacker who was drafted much later than he should have been. Not only does Brown's talent warrant early playing time in the NFL, but he lands in a favorable situation. Baltimore is tasked with replacing Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe at inside linebacker.
CB Leon McFadden, Cleveland Browns (third round, 68th overall)
The Browns have one of the league's top young cornerbacks in Joe Haden, but the starting role opposite him will be a bit of a question mark entering training camp. Buster Skrine, Chris Owens and Johnson Bademosi will all compete for the job, but it wouldn't be a shock if McFadden takes control of the right cornerback position and starts from day one.
OG Brian Winters, New York Jets (third round, 72nd overall)
The Jets' offensive line woes were well documented last season. Though they added Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman in free agency, offensive guard is far from a strength. A left tackle in college, Winters projects best inside, and his nasty demeanor could earn him early playing time and possibly a starting role at some point.
WR Quinton Patton, San Francisco 49ers (fourth round, 128th overall)
While Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin and Mario Manningham will likely be the top three receivers on the 49ers' depth chart, it wouldn't be a surprise if Patton passes last year's first rounder, A.J. Jenkins, and takes command of the No. 4 wideout spot. It was a surprise to see Patton fall out of the top 100 picks, and he's the type of performer who plays with a chip.
RB Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (fifth round, 151st overall)
The Cowboys' starting running back, DeMarco Murray, is a talented ballcarrier when healthy, but he has missed double-digit games over his two-year NFL career due to various injuries. Randle, who had 108 career catches the past three seasons for Oklahoma State, will be able to complement Murray in the backfield and also step in if (when?) he is unable to go.
RB Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams (fifth round, 160th overall)
With Steven Jackson now in Atlanta, the Rams have one of the youngest NFL backfields, led by second-year players Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. But Stacy, who leaves Vanderbilt as the school's all-time leading rusher, should push for early playing time as a rookie. It wouldn't be surprising to see him average a dozen touches per game in 2013.
TE Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders (sixth round, 184th overall)
The Raiders allowed Brandon Myers to leave via free agency, leaving Richard Gordon and David Ausberry as the only tight ends on the roster with any pro experience. Oakland also drafted Nick Kasa, who might be the long-term answer at tight end. But in 2013, Rivera has a chance to see the field early and often in an Aaron Hernandez-type role.