Now the work starts.

That’s the realization for every NFL Draft pick as the dust settles on the crowning achievement of each of their lives. There were 62 draft picks from the SEC, which led the way because of course it did.

Not everyone will step in and be a stud immediately. In fact, even a couple of top-10 picks like Jalen Carter and Darnell Wright could be more of rotational guys in the early part of their careers. Some were drafted because of their long-term ability and some guys were drafted to fill spots immediately. Today, we’ll focus on the latter.

These are the 7 SEC players who could have the most success as NFL rookies:

7. Nolan Smith, Eagles OLB

I could’ve easily gone with the aforementioned Carter here, but because he’ll be limited with his snaps in Year 1, I went with his fellow UGA defensive teammate. Smith checks every box you’d want in a franchise player. He’s also going to the team that just set the NFL record for sacks in a season and clearly knows how to scheme ways to rush the passer. Smith is going to carve out a role immediately with the way the Eagles rotate their edge rushers, which is a loaded group headlined by All-Pro Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat. Smith should step in immediately as a run defender with potential to develop alongside an elite pass-rushing group.

6. O’Cyrus Torrence, Bills OL

So what if Torrence’s future is at guard instead of tackle? The Bills need to figure out better ways to run the football, and Torrence should help immediately with that on the interior. He was phenomenal in his lone season in the SEC after following Billy Napier from Louisiana. It wasn’t just his run-blocking prowess, either. Torrence didn’t let up a sack all season as Florida’s starting right guard. He’ll have to battle Ryan Gates for that starting job in camp, but I’d tend to think the 23-year-old 2nd-round pick will have a favorable path to be an immediate starter for a Super Bowl contender.

5. Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions RB

I’m a fan of Gibbs’ game and think the Lions’ immense faith in him bodes well. I mean, they took him at No. 12 overall and shipped D’Andre Swift to the Eagles. They have some big plays for the pass-catching Gibbs, especially knowing that Jameson Williams is suspended for the first 6 games of 2023. But before we assume Gibbs is going to become an every-down back, let’s not forget that the Lions gave David Montgomery a 3-year contract worth as much as $18 million. It’s a shared backfield, which means it good be a bit touch and go in Year 1. But do I expect to see the former Alabama star flash some of that remarkable versatile, open-field ability? Absolutely.

4. Bryce Young, Panthers QB

I own all the Young stock, so don’t criticize me for being too low on the former Heisman Trophy winner. There’s no doubt in my mind that he deserved to be the No. 1 overall pick because he can overcome those size issues with how well he takes hits. Remember, though, this is a total rebuild. Find me a No. 1 overall pick at quarterback who didn’t take it on the chin in Year 1. Since the Pepsi Rookie of the Year became a thing in 2002, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston are the lone No. 1 overall picks to win the award as quarterbacks, and both had a quarterback rating of 84. Young will make some “wow” plays and look like the right choice in Year 1, though, which is why he’s still on this list.

3. Devon Achane, Dolphins RB

Calling my shot a bit here. I believe Achane could very well have the best career of any running back from this class. I’m not saying I would’ve taken him over Bijan Robinson, who went to the rebuilding Falcons. I am, however, saying I think Achane thrives in Mike McDaniel’s offense. McDaniel is all about speed. Hence, why the offense is built around Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. They lacked that home-run hitter in the backfield. Achane can be that dude, but don’t discount his vision and how he runs through contact. He’s far more than just a high-floor special teams guy. Achane is going from an A&M offense that couldn’t stretch the field at all to a Dolphins team that’s all about that. Don’t be surprised when even at 5-8, he’s getting the lion’s share of the work.

2. Emmanuel Forbes, Commanders CB

I believe Forbes is the second coming of Trevon Diggs. No, they aren’t the same physically. Forbes’ slender 166-pound frame was a popular topic of conversation during the pre-Draft process, but I’m not worried about that. His lateral quickness, instincts and ball-hawking skills are Diggs-like. That’s why the Commanders got him in the middle of Round 1 as the second corner off the board. He’s going to line up on the outside immediately alongside Kendall Fuller. Forbes was drafted so high because he can instantly help a Commanders team who had just 9 interceptions all season. The former MSU star had 6 pick-sixes in college and 14 picks total. He’s a lockdown outside corner who is ready for the NFL as a 3-year SEC starter.

1. Will Anderson, Texans Edge

Hey, I didn’t say this had to be bold. Let’s go with the guy who was a generational player at Alabama. I believe he’s every bit as good of a prospect as the Bosa brothers, Myles Garrett and Chase Young, all of whom were top-3 picks. Anderson is going to get better every day getting to go up against the highest-paid offensive lineman in the sport, Laremy Tunsil. You know the motor and the work ethic are already at an elite level. Seeing that on display in situations where he’s not dealing with a bevy of double-teams will be refreshing. He has the highest floor of any player in the 2023 class. Time will tell if he has the same upside as those aforementioned edge guys, but in terms of a plug-and-play guy, yes, give me the dude who had 62 (!) tackles for loss as a 3-year guy at Alabama.

And a Day 3 guy I like to be an impact player as a rookie … Antonio Johnson, Jaguars DB

There was a lot of debate among Jaguars fans about finding someone who could cover the slot, and doing so at No. 24. Instead, the Jags waited all the way until Round 5 to draft a defensive back … and it landed with PFF’s top-graded slot defender since 2021. It was surprising to see Johnson not get scooped up on Day 2, especially after he showed he could do a bit of everything as a 6-2 defender. He can get downhill and blow up plays in the backfield, he can cover and he doesn’t shy away from contact in space. Johnson might’ve lasted until Day 3 because of perceived issues defending the deep ball and he hunts the big hit a bit too much, but you can find a home for him instantly in nickel coverage. The Texas A&M star will have a chance to do far more than just make the 53-man roster.