Expectations are always high for players selected early in the NFL draft, but sometimes it's tough for prized first-year players to immediately meet those standards as they become acclimated to life at the next level.
With that in mind, I've identified seven players selected in the top 50 picks of the 2018 draft that are likely to get off to slow starts as rookies.
Drafted: Round 1, No. 9 overall out of Notre Dame.
Analysis: As a run blocker, McGlinchey should fit right into Kyle Shanahan's offense. The former Fighting Irish OT has excelled in that area in gap and zone schemes. However, I think McGlinchey could struggle a little in pass protection as a rookie. The team's opposition in the NFC West features good power along the edge, and matching up with speed-to-power rushers is something that gives this guy trouble. He might need a year to add more strength and become more acclimated to the diverse rush attacks/blitz packages he will see in the NFL before he performs to the level of a top-10 pick.
Drafted: Round 1, No. 14 overall out of UTSA.
Analysis: The Saints moved up 13 spots, trading away next year's first-rounder in a deal with the Packers, to secure the services of Davenport. He's still raw, though, and is facing a steep upgrade in competition from his days at UTSA. The Saints see DeMarcus Ware in Davenport -- a player from a smaller school with immense upside who can alter the game with his rush talent. Davenport might end up being that type of player, but I watched both Ware and Davenport at their respective Senior Bowl practices (Ware in 2005 and Davenport in January) and I thought Ware was clearly ahead of where Davenport was at that showcase event. Ware was a 16-game starter who recorded eight sacks during his rookie season. I'm not expecting that kind of start from Davenport.
Drafted: Round 1, No. 15 overall out of UCLA.
Analysis: I did not have a first-round grade on Miller, but even those that had a more favorable opinion of the former Bruin might have tampered expectations for how he'll perform during his rookie season. Miller has pass-protection talent, but he can be inconsistent in that area and still has much more room for growth as a run blocker. He could be a starting tackle from Day 1, which is a formidable task for even seasoned veterans in the AFC West, with so many talented edge defenders across the division.
Drafted: Round 1, No. 28 overall out of Virginia Tech.
Analysis: I'm interested to see how much the Steelers utilize Edmunds as a rookie. Morgan Burnett is a veteran in the back end, while Sean Davis offers ability in coverage (Rob Gronkowski's dismantling of Davis last season notwithstanding). I see Edmunds as more of a line-of-scrimmage safety with the ability to cover tight ends, but fifth-round rookie Marcus Allen might be a more formidable force in in the box. Edmunds could very well find his way in Pittsburgh, but figuring out his role and his best fit might take some time.
Drafted: Round 2, No. 37 overall out of Auburn.
Analysis: Fast starts or slow starts for a rookie can often be dictated by the players the rookie has to match up against. In Smith's case, his rookie campaign figures to be a challenging one. Smith is big and powerful -- he proved he could hold his own against Alabama's elite defensive line. However, one area that really concerns me with Smith is his propensity to lose his balance and fall off blocks against active, athletic tackles. He'll be seeing a lot of those players in the AFC South. Smith's issue can be coached up and corrected, but it usually takes some time for that coaching to pay dividends on the field.
Drafted: Round 2, No. 40 overall out of SMU.
Analysis: Some see Sutton as a player who could eventually replace Demaryius Thomas, who is signed through 2019. Given his sticky hands and ability to win contested catches, I wouldn't put it past Sutton to transition into that role. However, the Broncos' second-round pick didn't find many tight man-coverage challenges at SMU; consequently, his route running will need much greater development. Sutton could find a similar early-career fate to that of Michael Crabtree, who also lacked speed and separation talent coming out of college and had to develop his route running over time.
Drafted: Round 2, No. 45 overall out of Iowa.
Analysis: After watching tape of the top cornerbacks in the 2018 draft, it was obvious that Jackson had the best ball skills of the group. However, he exhibited a lack of consistency and fluidity in his movement in space during position drills at the NFL Scouting Combine, which cost him in the draft. Jackson has only one year of experience as a full-time starter, so he's still learning to play the position. His ball skills are undeniable, but until he becomes more experienced and comfortable in space, his play could be a little uneven.