When we try to think of the most impactful picks immediately following each draft class, we often think of just the first rounders when it comes to who might stand out the most in a rookie season. But the fact of the matter is the draft is seven rounds for a reason, and every player that is drafted has the chance to not only make a difference but perhaps the biggest one.
You'll read plenty of articles -- hopefully ones here on this fine website -- talking about "sleepers" and late rounders that are poised to play meaningful snaps and be potential x-factors in their first seasons in the league. But what about taking it a next step further? What about asking yourself if any of these late round players have a shot at the rookie crown?
I'm talking about Rookie of the Year, of course.
These are my Top 5 Day 3 players who have the highest chance to win Rookie of the Year.
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, New Orleans Saints
If you ask me, this one is super obvious because Chauncey Gardner-Johnson should not have been a Day 3 pick. There was talk leading up to the draft that he could be a player who snuck into the late round one range, and as draft weekend rolled on and CGJ's name continued to not be called, I was shocked.
Gardner-Johnson can play free safety, strong safety and nickel cornerback for the Saints. His versatility is going to be a factor in what gets him early playing time and his skillset beyond that gives him a chance at the rookie crown.
Justice Hill, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Though they have Mark Ingram in front of him on the depth chart, I think it's only a matter of time before Justice Hill finds himself a prominent role in the Ravens running back rotation. I see Hill coning along in that same type of mold Philip Lindsay did for the Broncos last year. He's an undersized guy who is more of a receiving difference maker than a true running back, but expect that kind of role the be utilized heavily in Baltimore's offense.
Duke Shelley, CB, Chicago Bears
This one feels like a true sleeper, but I like Shelley's skillset. He's a smaller cornerback at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, but has the speed at 4.46 to be a contributor. He nabbed eight interceptions in three seasons at Kansas State, which shows his mentality for takeaways, and the best part about his situation in Chicago, for him, is that there is not much competition in front of him. One injury or perhaps even poor play from Buster Skrine or Prince Amukamara could open the door for Shelley, and if that happens I see some potential for high impact.
Kevin Harmon, WR, Washington
It's crazy that I'm even talking about Kelvin Harmon as a Day 3 pick, but here we are. Ok, so maybe he's not the fastest receiver in the league, but he proved in his tape at N.C. State time and time again that he could win consistently without constant separation via agility or long speed. Harmon is in a receiver room that is wide open at the X receiver position. He could very well be a starter, and if he is, he'll be on the fast track for some rookie accolades.
Benny Snell, RB, Pittsburgh
James Conner is clearly the lead back in Pittsburgh, and he should be, but I'm highlighting Snell here because if Snell were to be given the reigns this season, for whatever reason, I really think he would thrive. He's is such a tough and determined runner that I believe he would make the most of his carries in Pittsburgh. He's a Steelers-type back I think they would feed early and often to control games.