Every team looks to improve its roster through the NFL draft. This year, only a few squads were able to bring in players that will make an impact early next season.
There were teams that build for the future like the Cleveland Browns, who took long-term projects while also trading for future picks. Another example is the San Francisco 49ers, a team that drafted high-risk players with the hope of helping in a year or two.
On the other hand, there were teams like the Dallas Cowboys who did not really help the team for now or later.
Still, a few organizations really nailed the draft and will see the positive results right away in the regular season. Here is a look at complete grades for every team, with a deeper look at those that will receive an impact this year.
While there are always prospects who succeed after being selected later in the draft, the first round is usually where you find the most impact players. That makes the Vikings' strategy of getting three picks in the opening round a good one.
This was a playoff team a year ago, but there were a lot of holes on the roster. Minnesota did a great job of filling those needs with elite talent that should also find a starting job before long.
Sharrif Floyd and Xavier Rhodes were great value picks and play the physical brand of football that this defense loves to run. Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has some question marks, but his skill as a catcher and his athleticism will make him into a No. 1 target.
Additionally, fourth-round pick Gerald Hodges can compete for a starting spot at linebacker and Jeff Locke is certain to take over punting duties.
Minnesota will get a lot out of its rookies next season, and that will play a big role in competing for the division title and more.
Even though it is possible that none of the players in this draft get a starting job right away, a bunch of them will have a huge impact.
Tyler Eifert might begin the season behind Jermaine Gresham on the depth chart, but he can come in as a big-time red-zone target immediately. He has good size and very good leaping ability to go up and get balls in the air. He and Andy Dalton will connect on a lot of touchdown passes next season.
At running back, Giovani Bernard is the perfect complement to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who is more of a between-the-tackles runner. The rookie is a good receiver out of the backfield and his versatility will make the offense much more dynamic.
Cincinnati should also expect early contributions from Margus Hunt and Shawn Williams. At the very least, Hunt is a force on special teams where he blocked 17 kicks in his career.
With a talented defense and an improving offense, this squad can contend in the AFC this season.
Green Bay Packers
Over the past few years, the Packers have been one of the most one-dimensional teams in the NFL. Obviously, this has brought plenty of success, but a lack of a rushing attack has hurt the squad at times.
The team has not had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2009, and no one even had 500 yards a year ago. While DuJuan Harris showed potential, the team needed people it could trust.
Not only did Green Bay add Eddie Lacy in the second round to solve this problem, but it also grabbed Johnathan Franklin in the fourth round. These two running backs had very productive college careers and should be able to step in and contribute right away.
Add in two physical offensive linemen between David Bakhtiari and J.C. Tretter, and the run game should be much more of a threat next season.
Additionally, the team made a strong first-round pick in Datone Jones, who will be a solid pass-rusher from the defensive line.
There were a few reaches in this class, but the team filled its needs and will be better off next season as it tries to return to the Super Bowl.
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