Rookie Review #2

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now but I just never got around to it.  Since there’s only college basketball on ESPN and the hockey on Versus is over…I have nothing to watch.  That means you get a Rookie Review.  Click here to see how your favorite rookies did after their first game in the NFL.

1. Matthew Stafford – QB – Detroit Lions

Stafford is having some growing pains, but that was to be expected after getting taken by the Lions who were winless last year.  He’s averaging 212.7 yards per game and his TD/INT ratio is 6/12 with a QB rating of 59.5.  Not exactly what you want, but I’m giving him extra leeway here.  The Lions have won a game that he started.  That should buy him at least three years.  His stats are actually quite comparable to Eli Manning’s through their first nine games.

2. Jason Smith – OT – St. Louis Rams

Jason Smith is the starting  right tackle for the Rams, who have been blocking for the 13th rated rushing attack in football (according to this page at nfl.com, which I may not be reading correctly).  Steven Jackson has been having another strong season, part of which has to be attributed to improved line play.  It seemed like the Rams were running to Smith’s side the majority of the day on Sunday against the Saints when Jackson rolled up 131 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  Smith has made some mistakes, but he’s looking like he’ll be a good player down the road.

3. Tyson Jackson – DE – Kansas City Chiefs

Jackson has started 8 of the 9 games at defensive end for the Chiefs this year, recording 11 solo tackles (13 total) and he has a pass defensed.  Not exactly eye popping numbers from the former LSU standout.  Defensive ends can take a while to develop into the position so it’s certainly not time to panic, however, prominent 1st round bust Gaines Adams recorded at least 27 tackles and six sacks in his two full seasons before being injured in his third year and getting traded to Chicago.  Still, there’s a long way to go before declaring him a bust.

4. Aaron Curry – LB – Seattle Seahawks

Curry should be a Chief right now, but that’s neither here nor there.  He’s started all 9 games for the Seahawks and has recorded 46 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pass defensed.  Prevailing word from the draft was that Curry was a tackling machine and so far, those reports have been accurate.  He’s not on pace to end with over 100 tackles, but he’ll be in the 80-90 range.  He’ll only improve at this point, too.  Hopefully, he’ll leave Seattle  when his contract is up or the divisions will be realigned when the Jaguars move to Los Angeles.  Wait, is it too early to say that?

5. Mark Sanchez – QB – New York Jets

After Sanchez’s magical opening game, he has cooled off considerably.  Currently, he is averaging about 184 yards a game and he has 9 TDS vs. 12 INTs.  That comes out to a QB rating of 66.5.  Statistically he is about the same as Stafford, but Sanchez plays on a significantly better team.  These two will probably be compared for the rest of their careers, right now, they’re indistinguishable.

6. Andre Smith – OT – Cincinnati Bengals

Smith still has not played a down for the Bengals who don’t seem to be missing him even a little bit.

7. Darius Heyward-Bey – WR – Oakland Raiders

I feel bad for Darius Heyward-Bey.  He will always be compared, perhaps unfairly, to Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, and even Hakeem Nicks.  Through nine games, H-B has 9 catches for 96 yards and at least one extremely costly drop.  That drop came as the Raiders were driving in the final minutes of the game against the rival Kansas City Chiefs.  Actually, it was more of a deflection that should have been caught but instead was intercepted, ending the game.

8. Eugene Monroe – OT – Jacksonville Jaguars

Monroe has played in 8 of the Jags’ 9 games, starting six.  Monroe is part of the line that blocks for the #6 rushing attack in all of football.  Jaguars ball carriers are averaging a very impressive 5 yards per carry.  Some of that credit goes to Monroe.  The downside is that Jags QBs have been hit more than any other Quarterback in the league at 70 times.

9. BJ Raji – DT – Green Bay Packers

Raji has seen action in seven Packers games this year, recording 12 tackles.  I think Raji has the ability to be great, but he doesn’t have the stats to back that up right now.  Check back in after a couple years and see how he’s doing.

10. Michael Crabtree – WR – San Francisco 49ers

After sitting out for the first part of the season, Crabtree has made his presence felt with the 49ers.  He already has 18 grabs for 215 yards in only four games.  Yes, that’s over double what the Raiders’ Darius Heyward-Bey has.  Crabtree looks like he’s going to be as star as long as he puts his contract dispute behind him and doesn’t get the wide receiver disease.  I don’t know Crabtree personally, so I can’t say I think that will happen but if I had to choose a candidate…

11. Aaron Maybin – DE – Buffalo Bills

Maybin has seen action in all nine Bills games this year.  He has a total of six tackles….eh…next.

12. Knowshon Moreno – RB – Denver Broncos

Moreno is putting together a nice season for the Broncos this year.  He has started four of the Broncos games, carrying the ball 132 time for 520 yards.  That’s a 3.9 average.  There’s not a whole lot to complain about with his performance this year except maybe his three fumbles.  Other than that, he’s been pretty solid.

13. Brian Orakpo – LB – Washington Redskins

Brian Orakpo has been a monster at the outside linebacker spot for the disappointing Redskins.  He has racked up 32 tackles and a rookie leading seven sacks.  This kid is only going to get better.  Without looking at any other stats, Orakpo gets my vote for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

14. Malcolm Jenkins – CB – New Orleans Saints

Jenkins has played in seven of the undefeated Saints’ 9 games.  He’s recorded 10 tackles and no interceptions so far, but he has forced two fumbles.  I noticed Jenkins’ name being called a few times against the Rams last Sunday, but he never stuck out to me .  He’s going to be a wait-and-see case.

15. Brian Cushing – LB – Houston Texans

Cushing has an astounding 78 tackles (46 solo), 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.  Maybe he’ll get my vote for D-RoY.  The thought of facing a linebacking corps of Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans can’t possibly be a good one for other teams in the AFC South.

16. Larry English – LB – San Diego Chargers

English has played in all nine games for the Bolts this year.  He’s got 13 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.  The jury will be out on English until Shawne Merriman leaves San Diego since he was brought in for that reason.

17.  Josh Freeman – QB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’ve been an outspoken critic of Freeman since before the draft.  He’s recently begun to see action for the Bucs, compiling 417 yards, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions.  Those are certainly respectable stats but there is one shocking statistic: six (6!) fumbles in two games.  Six!  That’s astounding.  He’ll certainly have to keep that number in check if he wants to be a productive starter in this league.

18. Robert Ayers – DE – Denver Broncos

Ayers has played in all nine games for Denver but only has 12 tackles and a pass defensed to show for it.  Hopefully he steps it up and represents our Tennessee Vols well.

19. Jeremy Maclin – WR – Philadelphia Eagles

After a relatively slow start, Maclin has stepped up his game in Philadelphia.  He ha 31 catches for 413 yards and four TDs, two of which were fairly spectacular.  The former Missouri stand out is paired very well with fellow speedster, DeSean Jackson who has exploded in his second year.  Maclin looks to be quite a playmaker in the future.

20. Brandon Pettigrew – TE – Detroit Lions

Pettigrew has caught 23 passes from #1 pick Matthew Stafford for 262 yards and a touchdown.  I think he’s going to be a good player in Detroit when all is said and done, but it seems like there were other positions that they could have addressed with this pick.

21. Alex Mack – C – Cleveland Browns

The Browns rushing attack is averaging a paltry 3.7 yards per carry.  The quarterback has been hit 43 times and sacked 23…which is not awful, but not good.  Everything about the Browns seems to be wrong, but I’ll say Mack has a good future.

22. Percy Harvin – WR – Minnesota Vikings

Before looking at the stats, I thought Harvin was far and away the best receiver picked in the first round.  He’s not.  He has 31 catches for 422 yards and three TDs.  He only has eight more yards than Maclin and one less TD.  He’s also got 9 rushes for 46 yards.  I thought Harvin would be good, but not durable.  So far, he’s stayed healthy and he’s been good.  He has been very dangerous in the return game for the Vikings, averaging 30.7 yards per return with two TDs.

23. Michael Oher – OT – Baltimore Ravens

Oher has started all nine games for the Ravens who are averaging 4.4 yards per carry.  They’re doing a good job of protecting Joe Flacco as well, giving up 19 sacks and 41 QB hits.  I think Oher is going to be a star.  He’s also the only first rounder to have a movie made about his life, so that’s impressive.

24. Peria Jerry – DT – Atlanta Falcons

The Ole Miss product suffered a major knee injury in Week 2 and his season is over.  He finished his rookie campaign with one assist on a tackle.

25. Vontae Davis – CB – Miami Dolphins

Davis has started three of the Dolphins 9 games.  He has recorded 28 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he took back for a touchdown.  I really wanted Davis to slide to the second round so the Rams could take him, but that didn’t happen.  Good start for Davis.

26. Clay Matthews – LB – Green Bay Packers

Matthews took over the starting job in Week 3 and has recorded 23 tackles, four sacks, and a forced fumble.  If Matthews and Raji can live up to their potential, the Packers defense could be dominant in the coming years.  I doubt Ted Thompson will be around to see that, though.

27. Donald Brown – RB – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts rushing attack has been…well…terrible.  Brown is averaging 4.5 yards per carry, but he has only carried the ball 50 times on the season.  I think Brown will be a pretty good back in the future, but right now, he hasn’t wowed me.

28. Eric Wood – G – Buffalo Bills

Wood has been the starter from day one in Buffalo.  In the film I watched of BJ Raji, Wood was being decimated by the young Packer.  Buffalo’s rushing stats, QB sacks, and QB hits all rank near the bottom of the league.  Not all of this is Wood’s fault, but it’s not the rookie season that you want to have, either.

29. Hakeem Nicks – WR – New York Giants

The fifth of six wide outs taken in the first round has 23 catches for 407 yards and 4 TDs.  He’s no Plaxico (yet) but he has had a respectable rookie season.  I was interested to see how Nicks would do.  He’s not the big target that Burress was and he’s in the bright lights of New York.  So what happens?  Well, Steve Smith becomes the best WR in football, of course.  Who didn’t see that coming?

30. Kenny Britt – WR – Tennessee Titans

Britt has slowed considerably from his first game pace, catching only 22 balls for 351 yards.  Again, I was interested in Britt’s development since I knew little about him coming out of college.  After an outstanding first game (8 recs, 85 yards), he has really been a non-factor for the suddenly-surging Titans.  He should see more action now that Justin Gage is out for a while.

31.  Beanie Wells – RB – Arizona Cardinals

Beanie has carried the ball 86 times for 395 yards on the year.  That’s not bad, but not good either.  I think the jury will remain out on the former Buckeye until we get some more information.

32. Ziggy Hood – DT – Pittsburgh Steelers

Hood is making the transition from DT to DE in the NFL for the Steelers who tend to bring their rookies along at a snail’s pace.  So far, Hood has a total of three tackles while playing sparingly.  He’ll be a player to look for in a couple years.

Whew.  That’s a painstakingly slow process.  I wish I had more time to do a more in-depth survey of all the first round picks, but I don’t.  If you feel like your team’s rookie has been slighted here, feel free to leave me a comment.

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