C.J. Mosley, (3-4) ILB, BAL
Along with fellow first-round pick Ryan Shazier in Pittsburgh, Mosley is the rookie linebacker most likely to make an IDP impact in 2014. Even though he was competing with 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown for the starting inside linebacker role next to Daryl Smith, Mosley opened camp with the starting lineup in Baltimore, and the odds of him losing his lead are rather bad. Mosley's instincts, motor and reliability really jumped out at Alabama, and he'll have a lot of playmaking opportunities in a Baltimore defense that almost always applies high pressure from year to year. Smith finished his first year in Baltimore with 123 tackles, five sacks and three interceptions in 2013, and there's a chance that Mosley will be just as effective in 2014.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NYG
Pierre-Paul may be the most disappointing IDP of the last two years. Playing primarily as the Giants' third end behind Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, JPP piled up 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks as a 22-year-old second-year player in 2011, making him the consensus top defensive lineman IDP heading into 2012. Some of the hype Pierre-Paul received was hyperbolic in hindsight, yet his exceptional production and obviously rare athletic gifts made it all believable. What's less believable is the fact that Pierre-Paul has just 93 tackles and 8.5 sacks in the 27 games since 2011 - the sort of production he was supposed to provide on a yearly basis. Part of JPP's struggles the last two years is explained by injuries. He played through a herniated disk in 2012 before undergoing surgery in June 2013. Then a shoulder injury ended his season last year in December. Now 14 months removed from back surgery, Pierre-Paul reportedly looks more like his old self in Giants training camp with more quickness off the edge. Still just 25, Pierre-Paul might finally bounce back if his health cooperates. He certainly has a financial incentive to do so - he's in the final year of his rookie contract.
Dezmen Southward, S, ATL
Dwight Lowery was expected to start alongside William Moore at safety for Atlanta in 2014, but Lowery suffered a concussion Friday that could put his season in jeopardy after missing 13 games with a severe concussion last year. Although Southward needs to get past his own day-to-day knee issue, the rookie third-round pick will be a good bet to earn a starting role if Lowery should miss time. With excellent speed and leaping ability at 6-foot, 210, and a weak run defense ahead of him, Southward could pile up a good tackle total if he emerges as a starter.
J.J. Wilcox, S, DAL
As a recent running back convert from a small school (Georgia Southern), it probably wasn't wise to expect an immediate impact from Wilcox in his 2013 rookie year, even if he was a third-round pick with standout athleticism. He ended up playing just 484 defensive snaps last year, accumulating 38 tackles without any sacks or turnovers, yet the Cowboys neglected to add any safety talent in the offseason, all but locking Wilcox into a starting role for 2014. The game likely has slowed for him over the last year, and Wilcox undoubtedly has the athleticism to make an impact if his instincts sharpen. He has above average size (213 pounds) and decent speed (4.57-second 40) for a safety, and his broad jump (124 inches) and 20-yard shuttle (4.09 seconds) are significantly better than average.
Mike Daniels, (3-4) DE, GB
Even if his 23 tackles and 6.5 sacks from 2013 don't impress at a glance, Daniels was actually very efficient for the Packers last year. He totaled those numbers on just 480 defensive snaps - a figure that should increase significantly in 2014 now that Ryan Pickett (441 snaps) and Johnny Jolly (287 snaps) are no longer on the team. If Daniels' 2013 production were projected over 606 snaps - the number played by B.J. Raji in 2013 - it would project to 29 tackles and 8.5 sacks. With just the unproven duo of Jerel Worthy and Khyri Thornton at backup end, Daniels could even exceed Raji's play count this year.
DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, DAL
The task of replacing DeMarcus Ware is unenviable to begin with, but to have injury rig the trial before its beginning is just unfair. Such is Lawrence's position. He suffered a broken foot Tuesday, and the injury is expected to keep him out 8-to-10 weeks. The rookie's name makes him Ware's symbolic replacement at least, but the fact that the Cowboys invested their second and third-round picks to import Lawrence from Boise State means Dallas really did plan to make him the cornerstone of its defensive line, just as Ware was not long ago. With his debut likely occurring no sooner than October, the odds of a rookie year impact aren't in Lawrence's favor.
Audie Cole, MLB, MIN
Playing in his second year out of North Carolina State, Cole received a surprise audition in the Minnesota starting lineup after off-the-field issues undid previous starter Erin Henderson, and Cole appeared to do well for himself in his four starting opportunities. Before a high ankle sprain ended his season he totaled 42 tackles and a sack in those four starts, numbers that seemingly should have earned him a slight foot into the door of 2014's starting lineup. The Vikings signed Jasper Brinkley in free agency, however, and it's Brinkley who has ran with the first-team defense. So long as Brinkley is ahead of him on the depth chart, Cole likely won't make an IDP impact.
Dion Jordan, DE, MIA
As if Jordan's 26-tackle, two-sack rookie season wasn't disappointing enough, the 2013 third overall pick managed to get himself suspended for four 2014 games by violating the NFL's substance abuse protocol. He was already a long shot to produce with both Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon ahead of him on the depth chart, and the fact that he'll play no more than 12 games all but eliminates him from IDP consideration heading into the fall. Jordan was regularly linked to trade rumors around the time of the 2014 draft, so his days in Miami might be numbered.
Sio Moore, OLB, OAK
Even after the Raiders selected Khalil Mack with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Moore looked like a fine IDP sleeper prospect at linebacker heading into the summer, as the 2013 third-round pick showed well as a rookie, posting 50 tackles and showing strong pass-rushing skills with 4.5 sacks in the final 11 weeks despite starting just 11 games. Moore is a very good athlete with excellent versatility, showing the ability to play off the ball, in coverage, on the edge, and even as a pass-rushing end in passing situations, yet the Raiders have third-year man Miles Burris ahead of Moore on the depth chart. Burris probably can't hold off Moore forever, but for now Moore is mostly off the redraft radar in most IDP leagues.