Top picks look the part as minicamps kick off

As three-fourths of the NFL teams opened up minicamps on Friday, some big-name draft picks saw their first pro action. Here’s a first look at six rookies who could have an immediate impact:

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (No. 1 overall)

Sam Bradford is beginning to adjust to lining up under center for the Rams.
Sam Bradford is beginning to adjust to lining up under center for the Rams.

First impression: Bradford’s first day of NFL practice took him somewhere he’d rarely been in college—under center. The No. 1 overall pick operated primarily in the shotgun in the spread offense at Oklahoma. But perhaps in a conscious effort to get Bradford acclimated to the footwork and drops he’ll need in the NFL, the Rams had him take all of his snap under center in the portion of Friday’s practice open to the media. Bradford botched one center exchange but threw the ball accurately in blustery winds.
First take: "It was fun out there today. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to play football. Just getting out there, getting in the huddle, running plays … I thought it was a blast. I felt very comfortable in the huddle. I felt like I did a good job of taking control." —Bradford

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions (No. 2)

First impression: Suh stood out as big and athletic, and battled well with his hands. But what will distinguish him—his explosiveness—won’t be evident until he practices in pads. His killer first step will be key to his transition from a two-gap system to Detroit’s one-gap philosophy of playing the run on the way to the QB.
First take: "I love this scheme. It’s a little bit different. It would be like, at Nebraska, third-down rushing on every single play—in terms of my get-off and things like that. I take that view of the third-down get-off every single time.” —Suh

Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers (No. 3)

First impression: During 11-on-11 drills, McCoy displayed his trademark quickness to get through the line for what would have been three quarterback sacks, and he got into position to make a couple of legitimate run stuffs. He also did a solid job of calling out signals along the line—an indication he has already picked up on the team’s terminology and understands his role as one of the quarterbacks of the defense.
First take: "The only thing that’s really different here from what I did in college at Oklahoma is the technique I use for shedding blocks. The first two steps here are a tad different, but I caught on to it right away. The rest is all the same. I’m still an attack, get-up-the-field guy. That’s what I do best. " —McCoy

Russell Okung, OT, Seahawks (No. 6)

First impression: Okung’s stance is low for such a large man, and he explodes off the line. He’s a powerful tackle, so a padless minicamp practice isn’t the best showcase for his skills. But Seattle’s zone-blocking scheme demands mobility, and Okung showed his speed both in terms of his feet and ability to pick up the system. It helps that he’s working alongside guard Ben Hamilton, who was signed away from Denver.
First take: "Russell fit in very well and did some very good things today. I don’t know how he could know as much as he did other than the fact Ben Hamilton was there helping him with the calls." —coach Pete Carroll

Anthony Davis, OT, 49ers (No. 11)

Jimmy Clausen is already starting to look comfortable with the Panthers' offense.
Jimmy Clausen is already starting to look comfortable with the Panthers’ offense.

First impression: Overall, Davis looked good in his first 49ers practice. Assistant line coach Ray Brown got on the rookie early about driving his legs on the blocking sled, but Davis proved to be a quick learner. Davis also looked at home in 11-on-11 drills. He came out of his stance quickly and seemed to get to the second level of the defense in a hurry. Of course, Davis mostly was lined up against undrafted rookie Will Tukuafu, and the workout was run without pads. Davis will find himself matched against veteran Justin Smith, who went to the Pro Bowl last season, when training camp begins.
First take: "One of things that intrigued us with Anthony was his quickness off the ball. He’s got great foot quickness. And he’s also a big man with strength who can move people off the block." —acting G.M. Trent Baalke

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Panthers (No. 48)

First impression: It was easy to see that Clausen, showing off a quick release, was well-coached at Notre Dame. His transition to the NFL will be accelerated by a scheme that is similar to Notre Dame’s.
First take: "As soon I saw the playbook, there were similar terms with a little different wording." —Clausen

Sporting News Today’s NFL correspondents contributed to this report.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

As three-fourths of the NFL teams opened up minicamps on Friday, some big-name draft picks saw their first pro action. Here’s a first look at six rookies who could have an immediate impact:

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (No. 1 overall)

Sam Bradford is beginning to adjust to lining up under center for the Rams.
Sam Bradford is beginning to adjust to lining up under center for the Rams.

First impression: Bradford’s first day of NFL practice took him somewhere he’d rarely been in college—under center. The No. 1 overall pick operated primarily in the shotgun in the spread offense at Oklahoma. But perhaps in a conscious effort to get Bradford acclimated to the footwork and drops he’ll need in the NFL, the Rams had him take all of his snap under center in the portion of Friday’s practice open to the media. Bradford botched one center exchange but threw the ball accurately in blustery winds.
First take: "It was fun out there today. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to play football. Just getting out there, getting in the huddle, running plays … I thought it was a blast. I felt very comfortable in the huddle. I felt like I did a good job of taking control." —Bradford

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lions (No. 2)

First impression: Suh stood out as big and athletic, and battled well with his hands. But what will distinguish him—his explosiveness—won’t be evident until he practices in pads. His killer first step will be key to his transition from a two-gap system to Detroit’s one-gap philosophy of playing the run on the way to the QB.
First take: "I love this scheme. It’s a little bit different. It would be like, at Nebraska, third-down rushing on every single play—in terms of my get-off and things like that. I take that view of the third-down get-off every single time.” —Suh

Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers (No. 3)

First impression: During 11-on-11 drills, McCoy displayed his trademark quickness to get through the line for what would have been three quarterback sacks, and he got into position to make a couple of legitimate run stuffs. He also did a solid job of calling out signals along the line—an indication he has already picked up on the team’s terminology and understands his role as one of the quarterbacks of the defense.
First take: "The only thing that’s really different here from what I did in college at Oklahoma is the technique I use for shedding blocks. The first two steps here are a tad different, but I caught on to it right away. The rest is all the same. I’m still an attack, get-up-the-field guy. That’s what I do best. " —McCoy

Russell Okung, OT, Seahawks (No. 6)

First impression: Okung’s stance is low for such a large man, and he explodes off the line. He’s a powerful tackle, so a padless minicamp practice isn’t the best showcase for his skills. But Seattle’s zone-blocking scheme demands mobility, and Okung showed his speed both in terms of his feet and ability to pick up the system. It helps that he’s working alongside guard Ben Hamilton, who was signed away from Denver.
First take: "Russell fit in very well and did some very good things today. I don’t know how he could know as much as he did other than the fact Ben Hamilton was there helping him with the calls." —coach Pete Carroll

Anthony Davis, OT, 49ers (No. 11)

Jimmy Clausen is already starting to look comfortable with the Panthers' offense.
Jimmy Clausen is already starting to look comfortable with the Panthers’ offense.

First impression: Overall, Davis looked good in his first 49ers practice. Assistant line coach Ray Brown got on the rookie early about driving his legs on the blocking sled, but Davis proved to be a quick learner. Davis also looked at home in 11-on-11 drills. He came out of his stance quickly and seemed to get to the second level of the defense in a hurry. Of course, Davis mostly was lined up against undrafted rookie Will Tukuafu, and the workout was run without pads. Davis will find himself matched against veteran Justin Smith, who went to the Pro Bowl last season, when training camp begins.
First take: "One of things that intrigued us with Anthony was his quickness off the ball. He’s got great foot quickness. And he’s also a big man with strength who can move people off the block." —acting G.M. Trent Baalke

Jimmy Clausen, QB, Panthers (No. 48)

First impression: It was easy to see that Clausen, showing off a quick release, was well-coached at Notre Dame. His transition to the NFL will be accelerated by a scheme that is similar to Notre Dame’s.
First take: "As soon I saw the playbook, there were similar terms with a little different wording." —Clausen

Sporting News Today’s NFL correspondents contributed to this report.

Vinnie Iyer is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at viyer@sportingnews.com.

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