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Ranking NFL teams based on first-year impact of '16 rookie class

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Now that the regular season has concluded, it's time to take a look at which rookie classes provided their teams with the biggest impact in 2016. Here are my team rankings based on the performances of their rookies this season.

1. Dallas Cowboys

» Round 1: (No. 4 overall) Ezekiel Elliott, RB.
» Round 2: (34) Jaylon Smith, OLB.
» Round 3: (67) Maliek Collins, DT.
» Round 4: (101) Charles Tapper, DE; (135) Dak Prescott, QB.
» Round 6: (189) Anthony Brown, CB; (212) Kavon Frazier, SS; (216) Darius Jackson, RB; (217) Rico Gathers, TE.

Whenever a team has a pair of Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates and Most Valuable Player contenders in the same class, the coaching staff and scouting department deserve props for their work. Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott have done more than exceed expectations as first-year starters -- they have catapulted the Cowboys into Super Bowl contention.

2. San Diego Chargers

» Round 1: (No. 3 overall) Joey Bosa, DE.
» Round 2: (35) Hunter Henry, TE.
» Round 3: (66) Max Tuerk, C.
» Round 4: (102) Joshua Perry, ILB.
» Round 5: (175) Jatavis Brown, OLB.
» Round 6: (179) Drew Kaser, P; (198) Derek Watt, FB.
» Round 7: (224) Donavon Clark, OG.

Imagine if Joey Bosa had been signed and sealed before camp. The rookie standout notched 10.5 sacks without significant preseason work. Jatavis Brown also looks like a keeper at linebacker, and Hunter Henry is a standout playmaker at tight end.

3. Atlanta Falcons

» Round 1: (No. 17 overall) Keanu Neal, SS.
» Round 2: (52) Deion Jones, OLB.
» Round 3: (81) Austin Hooper, TE.
» Round 4: (115) De'Vondre Campbell, OLB.
» Round 6: (195) Wes Schweitzer, OG.
» Round 7: (238) Devin Fuller, WR.

Keanu Neal and Deion Jones have helped the Falcons' D generate enough stops to complement the NFL's most explosive offense.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

» Round 1: (No. 5 overall) Jalen Ramsey, DB.
» Round 2: (36) Myles Jack, OLB.
» Round 3: (69) Yannick Ngakoue, DE.
» Round 4: (103) Sheldon Day, DT.
» Round 6: (181) Tyrone Holmes, OLB; (201) Brandon Allen, QB.
» Round 7: (226) Jonathan Woodard, DE.

The additions of Jalen Ramsey and Yannick Ngakoue helped the Jaguars' D quietly emerge as a top unit.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

» Round 2: (No. 37 overall) Chris Jones, DT.
» Round 3: (74) KeiVarae Russell, CB.
» Round 4: (105) Parker Ehinger, OG; (106) Eric Murray, CB; (126) Demarcus Robinson, WR.
» Round 5: (162) Kevin Hogan, QB; (165) Tyreek Hill, WR.
» Round 6: (178) D.J. White, CB; (203) Dadi Nicolas, DE.

Tyreek Hill has single-handedly transformed the Chiefs into a scoring machine as a do-it-all playmaker.

6. Tennessee Titans

» Round 1: (No. 8 overall) Jack Conklin, OT.
» Round 2: (33) Kevin Dodd, DE; (43) Austin Johnson, NT; (45) Derrick Henry, RB.
» Round 3: (64) Kevin Byard, S.
» Round 5: (140) Tajae Sharpe, WR; (157) LeShaun Sims, CB.
» Round 6: (193) Sebastian Tretola, OG.
» Round 7: (222) Aaron Wallace, OLB; (253) Kalan Reed, CB.

Jack Conklin solidified the Titans' O-line as a rugged edge blocker. With Derrick Henry making key contributions as a complementary runner, the Titans fielded the NFL's third-best rushing attack behind their impact rookies.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

» Round 1: (No. 11 overall) Vernon Hargreaves, CB.
» Round 2: (39) Noah Spence, DE; (59) Roberto Aguayo, K.
» Round 4: (108) Ryan Smith, CB.
» Round 5: (148) Caleb Benenoch, OT.
» Round 6: (183) Devante Bond, OLB; (197) Dan Vitale, FB.

Vernon Hargreaves and Noah Spence are foundation players on a defense that could spearhead a deep postseason run in the near future.

8. Chicago Bears

» Round 1: (No. 9 overall) Leonard Floyd, OLB.
» Round 2: (56) Cody Whitehair, OG.
» Round 3: (72) Jonathan Bullard, DT.
» Round 4: (113) Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB; (124) Deon Bush, S; (127) Deiondre' Hall, CB.
» Round 5: (150) Jordan Howard, RB.
» Round 6: (185) DeAndre Houston-Carson, FS.
» Round 7: (230) Daniel Braverman, WR.

Jordan Howard and Leonard Floyd showed the football world that they have the potential to thrive as future stars for a Bears team that's close to turning it around.

9. Pittsburgh Steelers

» Round 1: (No. 25 overall) Artie Burns, CB.
» Round 2: (58) Sean Davis, CB.
» Round 3: (89) Javon Hargrave, DT.
» Round 4: (123) Jerald Hawkins, OT.
» Round 6: (220) Travis Feeney, OLB.
» Round 7: (229) DeMarcus Ayers, WR; (246) Tyler Matakevich, OLB.

The Steelers' young pups (Sean Davis and Artie Burns) have energized the secondary and Javon Hargrave has become a bedrock along the front line.

10. Miami Dolphins

» Round 1: (No. 13 overall) Laremy Tunsil, OT.
» Round 2: (38) Xavien Howard, CB.
» Round 3: (73) Kenyan Drake, RB; (86) Leonte Carroo, WR.
» Round 6: (186) Jakeem Grant, WR; (204) Jordan Lucas, SS.
» Round 7: (223) Brandon Doughty, QB; (231) Thomas Duarte, TE.

Laremy Tunsil has helped the Dolphins find an offensive identity as a punishing blocker at the point of attack. Kenyan Drake and Jakeem Grant added some sizzle to the return game.

11. New York Giants

» Round 1: (No. 10 overall) Eli Apple, CB.
» Round 2: (40) Sterling Shepard, WR.
» Round 3: (71) Darian Thompson, S.
» Round 4: (109) B.J. Goodson, OLB.
» Round 5: (149) Paul Perkins, RB.
» Round 6: (184) Jerell Adams, TE.

Sterling Shepard and Eli Apple made solid contributions as rookie starters. Paul Perkins came on strong down the stretch to give the running game a jolt.

12. New Orleans Saints

» Round 1: (No. 12 overall) Sheldon Rankins, DT.
» Round 2: (47) Michael Thomas, WR; (61) Vonn Bell, FS.
» Round 4: (120) David Onyemata, DT.
» Round 7: (237) Daniel Lasco, RB.

Michael Thomas led all rookies in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Sheldon Rankins was limited due to injury, but flashed potential as a disruptive pass rusher (4 sacks).

13. Carolina Panthers

» Round 1: (No. 30 overall) Vernon Butler, DT.
» Round 2: (62) James Bradberry, CB.
» Round 3: (77) Daryl Worley, CB.
» Round 5: (141) Zack Sanchez, CB.
» Round 7: (252) Beau Sandland, TE.

Daryl Worley and James Bradberry made steady improvements throughout the season as first-year starters. Vernon Butler didn't post big numbers, but looks the part as an interior disruptor.

14. Detroit Lions

» Round 1: (No. 16 overall) Taylor Decker, OT.
» Round 2: (46) A'Shawn Robinson, DT.
» Round 3: (95) Graham Glasgow, C.
» Round 4: (111) Miles Killebrew, SS.
» Round 5: (151) Joe Dahl, OG; (169) Antwione Williams, LB.
» Round 6: (191) Jake Rudock, QB; (202) Anthony Zettel, DT; (210) Jimmy Landes, LS.
» Round 7: (236) Dwayne Washington, RB.

Taylor Decker has been terrific as Matthew Stafford's blindside protector. A'Shawn Robinson is a rugged run stopper with a knack for plugging holes at the point of attack.

15. Philadelphia Eagles

» Round 1: (No. 2 overall) Carson Wentz, QB.
» Round 3: (79) Isaac Seumalo, OG.
» Round 5: (153) Wendell Smallwood, RB; (164) Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT.
» Round 6: (196) Blake Countess, CB.
» Round 7: (233) Jalen Mills, FS; (240) Alex McCalister, DE; (251) Joe Walker, ILB.

Carson Wentz started the season like a house on fire before cooling off considerably down the stretch. He still shows promise as a franchise quarterback for the Eagles.

16. Baltimore Ravens

» Round 1: (No. 6 overall) Ronnie Stanley, OT.
» Round 2: (42) Kamalei Correa, DE.
» Round 3: (70) Bronson Kaufusi, DE.
» Round 4: (104) Tavon Young, CB; (107) Chris Moore, WR; (130) Alex Lewis, OT; (132) Willie Henry, DT; (134) Kenneth Dixon, RB.
» Round 5: (146) Matt Judon, DE.
» Round 6: (182) Keenan Reynolds, RB; (209) Maurice Canady, CB.

Ronnie Staley was solid on the edge, but it's the contributions of Kenneth Dixon and Matt Judon that should encourage Ravens officials going forward. The young playmakers showed promise as rotation players.

17. Green Bay Packers

» Round 1: (No. 27 overall) Kenny Clark, DT.
» Round 2: (48) Jason Spriggs, T.
» Round 3: (88) Kyler Fackrell, LB.
» Round 4: (131) Blake Martinez, LB; (137) Dean Lowry, DE.
» Round 5: (163) Trevor Davis, WR.
» Round 6: (200) Kyle Murphy, T.

Blake Martinez steadied the defense as the "traffic cop" in the middle of the Packers' defense. Geronimo Allison has been a nice find as an underrated free-agent pass-catcher.

18. Houston Texans

» Round 1: (No. 21 overall) Will Fuller, WR.
» Round 2: (50) Nick Martin, OG.
» Round 3: (85) Braxton Miller, WR.
» Round 4: (119) Tyler Ervin, RB.
» Round 5: (159) K.J. Dillon, S; (166) D.J. Reader, NT.

Will Fuller showed promise as a vertical playmaker early in the season. Braxton Miller and Tyler Ervin also made contributions as perimeter playmakers for the Texans.

19. Oakland Raiders

» Round 1: (No. 14 overall) Karl Joseph, S.
» Round 2: (44) Jihad Ward, DE.
» Round 3: (75) Shilique Calhoun, DE.
» Round 4: (100) Connor Cook, QB.
» Round 5: (143) DeAndre Washington, RB.
» Round 6: (194) Cory James, OLB.
» Round 7: (234) Vadal Alexander, OG.

Jalen Richard, who was signed as an undrafted free-agent, and DeAndre Washington formed a nice complementary tandem behind Latavius Murray. Karl Joseph has been a solid contributor as a deep middle player.

20. Washington Redskins

» Round 1: (No. 22 overall) Josh Doctson, WR.
» Round 2: (53) Su'a Cravens, OLB/SS.
» Round 3: (84) Kendall Fuller, CB.
» Round 5: (152) Matthew Ioannidis, DT.
» Round 6: (187) Nate Sudfeld, QB.
» Round 7: (232) Steven Daniels, ILB; (242) Keith Marshall, RB.

Su'a Cravens flashed as a hybrid defender before injuries ended his season. Robert Kelley emerged as Washington's leading rusher after making the team as an undrafted free agent.

21. Denver Broncos

» Round 1: (No. 26 overall) Paxton Lynch, QB.
» Round 2: (63) Adam Gotsis, DT.
» Round 3: (98) Justin Simmons, FS.
» Round 4: (136) Devontae Booker, RB.
» Round 5: (144) Connor McGovern, OG.
» Round 6: (176) Andy Janovich, FB; (219) Will Parks, S.
» Round 7: (228) Riley Dixon, P.

Paxton Lynch played sparingly this season, but he flashed potential despite a few hiccups in game action. Devontae Booker made a solid contribution as the team's RB1 following C.J. Anderson's injury.

22. Seattle Seahawks

» Round 1: (No. 31 overall) Germain Ifedi, OG.
» Round 2: (49) Jarran Reed, DT.
» Round 3: (90) C.J. Prosise, RB; (94) Nick Vannett, TE; (97) Rees Odhiambo, OG.
» Round 5: (147) Quinton Jefferson, DT; (171) Alex Collins, RB.
» Round 6: (215) Joey Hunt, C.
» Round 7: (243) Kenny Lawler, WR; (247) Zac Brooks, RB.

Jarran Reed was a nice addition as an inside plugger. Alex Collins and C.J. Prosise have flashed in limited action, but the team needs one of the runners to emerge as a true RB1 down the road.

23. Indianapolis Colts

» Round 1: (No. 18 overall) Ryan Kelly, C.
» Round 2: (57) T.J. Green, DB.
» Round 3: (82) Le'Raven Clark, OT.
» Round 4: (116) Hassan Ridgeway, DT; (125) Antonio Morrison, ILB.
» Round 5: (155) Joe Haeg, OT.
» Round 7: (239) Trevor Bates, LB; (248) Austin Blythe, C.

Ryan Kelly and Le'Raven Clark look like long-term fixtures along the line. T.J. Green made an impact as a first-year starter in the back end.

24. New York Jets

» Round 1: (No. 20 overall) Darron Lee, OLB.
» Round 2: (51) Christian Hackenberg, QB.
» Round 3: (83) Jordan Jenkins, OLB.
» Round 4: (118) Juston Burris, CB.
» Round 5: (158) Brandon Shell, OT.
» Round 7: (235) Lac Edwards, P; (241) Charone Peake, WR.

Darron Lee finished as the team's second-leading tackler and exhibited all of the skills that made him a top pick. Jalin Marshall and Robby Anderson made unexpected contributions as undrafted free agents.

25. New England Patriots

» Round 2: (No. 60 overall) Cyrus Jones, CB.
» Round 3: (78) Joe Thuney, OG; (91) Jacoby Brissett, QB; (96) Vincent Valentine, DT.
» Round 4: (112) Malcolm Mitchell, WR.
» Round 6: (208) Kamu Grugier-Hill, OLB; (214) Elandon Roberts, ILB; (221) Ted Karras, OG.
» Round 7: (225) Devin Lucien, WR.

Joe Thuney and Malcolm Mitchell stepped in to fill key roles on an offense that hit on all cylinders with Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett at the helm.

26. Buffalo Bills

» Round 1: (No. 19 overall) Shaq Lawson, DE.
» Round 2: (41) Reggie Ragland, ILB.
» Round 3: (80) Adolphus Washington, DT.
» Round 4: (139) Cardale Jones, QB.
» Round 5: (156) Jonathan Williams, RB.
» Round 6: (192) Kolby Listenbee, WR; (218) Kevon Seymour, CB.

Injuries prevented the Bills' top picks (Shaq Lawson and Reggie Ragland) from making big splashes during their rookie seasons, but Adolphus Washington and Kevon Seymour were bright spots in a dark year.

27. Cleveland Browns

» Round 1: (No. 15 overall) Corey Coleman, WR.
» Round 2: (32) Emmanuel Ogbah, DE.
» Round 3: (65) Carl Nassib, DE; (76) Shon Coleman, OT; (93) Cody Kessler, QB.
» Round 4: (99) Joe Schobert, OLB; (114) Ricardo Louis, WR; (129) Derrick Kindred, FS; (138) Seth Devalve, TE.
» Round 5: (154) Jordan Payton, WR; (168) Spencer Drango, OG; (172) Rashard Higgins, WR; (173) Trey Caldwell, DB.
» Round 7: (250) Scooby Wright III, ILB.

Corey Coleman, Emmanuel Ogbah and Cody Kessler had their moments, but the Browns need a greater impact from the trio going forward.

28. Cincinnati Bengals

» Round 1: (No. 24 overall) William Jackson III, CB.
» Round 2: (55) Tyler Boyd, WR.
» Round 3: (87) Nick Vigil, ILB.
» Round 4: (122) Andrew Billings, NT.
» Round 5: (161) Christian Westerman, OG.
» Round 6: (199) Cody Core, WR.
» Round 7: (245) Clayton Fejedelem, S.

Tyler Boyd was expected to fill a role as a WR3, but handled his business as a starter when A.J. Green was sidelined with a season-ending injury.

29. Arizona Cardinals

» Round 1: (No. 29 overall) Robert Nkemdiche, DT.
» Round 3: (92) Brandon Williams, CB.
» Round 4: (128) Evan Boehm, C.
» Round 5: (167) Marqui Christian, SS; (170) Cole Toner, OT.
» Round 6: (205) Harlan Miller, CB.

Robert Nkemdiche essentially redshirted for the Cardinals this season despite his status as a top pick. Brandon Williams experienced plenty of ups and downs as a spot starter on the perimeter.

30. Minnesota Vikings

» Round 1: (No. 23 overall) Laquon Treadwell, WR.
» Round 2: (54) Mackensie Alexander, CB.
» Round 4: (121) Willie Beavers, OT.
» Round 5: (160) Kentrell Brothers, OLB.
» Round 6: (180) Moritz Boehringer, WR; (188) David Morgan, TE.
» Round 7: (227) Stephen Weatherly, OLB; (244) Jayron Kearse, S.

Laquon Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander will wait until 2017 to make their mark for the Vikings.

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31. San Francisco 49ers

» Round 1: (No. 7 overall) DeForest Buckner, DE; (28) Joshua Garnett, OG.
» Round 3: (68) Will Redmond, CB.
» Round 4: (133) Rashard Robinson, CB.
» Round 5: (142) Ronald Blair, DE; (145) John Theus, OT; (174) Fahn Cooper, OT.
» Round 6: (207) Jeff Driskel, QB; (211) Kelvin Taylor, RB; (213) Aaron Burbridge, WR.
» Round 7: (249) Prince Charles Iworah, CB.

DeForest Buckner quietly played like a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate in the middle of a porous defense.

32. Los Angeles Rams

» Round 1: (No. 1 overall) Jared Goff, QB.
» Round 4: (110) Tyler Higbee, TE; (117) Pharoh Cooper, WR.
» Round 6: (177) Temarrick Hemingway, TE; (190) Josh Forrest, ILB; (206) Mike Thomas, WR.

Jared Goff was unable to find his way as a rookie quarterback, but it's too early to make a hard assessment on his long-term future.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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