The Big Question: Impact rookies?

May, 4, 2010
5/04/10
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NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Which NFC South rookie will have the most impact from the start of the season?

[+] EnlargeArrelious Benn
Cliff Welch/Icon SMIArrelious Benn has a chance to make an immediate impact with the Bucs.
Let’s go beyond the first-round picks. Let’s go beyond the biggest name in the NFC South draft class (Jimmy Clausen) because some of those guys might not start right away and some play positions where you won’t hear a lot from them. Let’s turn to Tampa Bay receiver Arrelious Benn, a second-round draft pick. Heck, let’s also throw in Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams, a fourth-round pick.

Barring a totally disastrous training camp from either one of these guys, I see this tandem as Tampa Bay’s starters on opening day. If Benn and Williams can even come close to grasping the playbook by September, their physical talents make them better than Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall.

Throw them out there with Sammie Stroughter as the slot receiver and you have a group of receivers that’s incredibly young. But it’s also a very talented group that could make a lot of noise.

Sure, Tampa Bay’s going to be starting two rookie defensive tackles in Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. But you don’t hear a lot about defensive tackles if they’re doing their job. The same applies for Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who might not be an immediate starter. I’m not sure we’ll hear much from New Orleans first-round pick Patrick Robinson right from the start because the Saints now have such a wealth of talent in their secondary. Clausen might end up starting in Carolina. Still, the Panthers might open the season with Matt Moore as their quarterback.

But I’m pretty sure we’re going to hear a lot from Benn and Williams right from the start. Quarterback Josh Freeman needs some guys to throw to outside of tight end Kellen Winslow. Benn and Williams quickly could become popular targets.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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