Sankey is a beneficiary of being on a team that is desperate for someone to handle the running back workload. After an impressive career at Washington, he had a near-perfect process through the draft. What’s more is Titans scout Marv Sunderland notices similarities to former Giants running back Tiki Barber. "He can run inside, he can get outside, he runs through guys and he can break the long runs," Sunderland said after the draft, per The Tennessean. "He has great hands out of the backfield, and he's a good blocker. He is a well-rounded back.” Head coach Ken Whisenhunt will be sure to squeeze every ounce of potential out of his second-round running back.
Getty ImagesFrederick Breedon
Jets TE Jace Amaro (49th overall)
Only three tight ends in NFL history have had 100 receptions in a season, but Amaro hopes to become the fourth. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end has been getting adjusted to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s system, but is aggressively carving out a role for himself. “He’s lined up everywhere,” tight end coach Steve Hagen said, per The Star Ledger. "He's lined up flexed out, hand down, out by himself (on the) single-receiver side, on the three-receiver side, on the two-receiver side. We use him everywhere we can use him. So we have asked him to do a lot, and we expect him to do a lot.” That about sums it up.
Getty ImagesRich Schultz
Rams DL Aaron Donald (13th overall)
No rookie will benefit from the talent around him more than Donald. On a defensive line which features Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Michael Brockers, Donald brings extreme versatility and first-step explosion. With a rare blend of size (6-foot-2, 285) and speed (4.7 in 40-yard dash), defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will maximize his potential on an aggressive line. His athleticism allows him to run sideline to sideline and will help St. Louis combat the read option, which has become so trendy in San Francisco and Seattle.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
Cowboys OL Zack Martin (16th overall)
For the second season, the Cowboys addressed the offensive line in the first round. They may finally begin to enjoy the perks of an “inside-out” philosophy. While Martin played offensive tackle at Notre Dame, the Cowboys will ease his development and start him off at guard. Martin was celebrated as the most technical offensive lineman in the draft, but it’s his nasty demeanor that will sharpen the offensive line. The Cowboys, who historically pass to setup the pass, have the option of a downhill running game and Martin will pave lanes for DeMarco Murray and Co.
Getty ImagesRick Yeatts
Jets FS Calvin Pryor (18th overall)
Head coach Rex Ryan wanted to add another intimidating defender in the draft and got one with the Louisville hard-hitting safety. With a stout defensive line, the Jets needed to get better in the second and third levels to improve on a league-low 15 takeaways (31st in the NFL). The 6-foot-2, 208-pounder has caught some early buzz this offseason and has Jets’ fans thinking back-to-back Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards. What’s more is he’s taking under the guidance of veteran safety Dawan Landry, who is the QB in the secondary.
Getty ImagesRich Schultz
Chiefs OLB Dee Ford (23rd overall)
With Pro Bowl talents like Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, the Chiefs weren’t banking on Ford to make an impact right away. But it has been the opposite since his arrival in Kansas City. The Auburn product has shocked his teammates and drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas and another perennial All-Pro talent. "That guy's explosive," linebacker Joe Mays said of Ford. "He's quick off the ball. He kind of reminds me of Von Miller with the way that he gets off the ball and gets around the offensive linemen. He's a freak. He knows how to work angles and uses his hands real well. He can bend and do all types of stuff you don't see in the everyday pass rushers. Definitely as-advertised."
Denny Medley-USA TODAY SportsDenny Medley
Raiders LB Khalil Mack (5th overall)
Ask veteran offensive lineman Donald Penn of his initial impressions of Mack and he’ll leave you convinced the rookie linebacker is destined for greatness. "I see signs," Penn said, per CSN Bay Area. "In between snaps, he's in Justin Tuck’s ear. Khalil's a special athlete. I can tell from some of his moves and the way he can put his foot in the ground and change directions, for him to be doing that at defensive end, he moves like a defensive back. It's crazy for a guy that size to be doing that." With Tuck and LaMarr Woodley as mentors, it’s a matter of time before Mack makes a name for himself.
Getty ImagesThearon W. Henderson
Eagles WR Jordan Matthews (42nd overall)
Quarterback Nick Foles will have no shortage of weapons this season. After re-signing wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, the team selected a pair of young receivers in Matthews and Josh Huff in the draft. Add tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz along with a deep crop of running backs to the mix, and there aren’t many balls to go around. But Matthews, a 6-foot-3, 212-pound target, has stood out among the rest in organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. He has handled himself like a savvy veteran and completely bought into the Eagles’ way. “I love him,” Foles said earlier this month. “I think he’s a great addition to the team."
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsBill Streicher
Steelers LB Ryan Shazier (15th overall)
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau hasn’t started a rookie on his unit in over a decade. Well, times are a changing in Pittsburgh. Shazier has been penciled in as a starter as one of the inside linebackers in the 3-4 defense. Shazier, who had 23.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and four force fumbles at Ohio State last season, relies on his instincts and raw athleticism to make plays. While he’s been in town for a short period of time, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker has already made some big impressions. "He's going to be fun to watch," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said on WDVE 102.5 in Pittsburgh, "and the thing about him that is most underrated that people don't talk about is he's very smart on the field. I think he's going to be a guy that's going to be calling the defense pretty soon."
Getty ImagesJoe Sargent
Bills WR Sammy Watkins (4th overall)
General manager Doug Whaley made a splash on draft day, trading up to select the dynamic wide receiver from Clemson. Since then, Watkins hasn’t disappointed. Arriving early and staying late at the team facility, Watkins has already noticed a slight improvement on the way he runs the route tree. Now, it’s up to offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to get the ball in his best playmaker’s hands. "Our goal is to go fast, run a lot of plays, and go as quickly as possible," Watkins told Yahoo! Sports. "We’re going to throw the ball. But I can get it in other ways, and we’re going to run it well, too. We’ve been working a lot on third downs in OTAs. We know we have to convert those in order to be a great team and a complete [offense]. We know we can do it. It all there for us."