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Old 07-09-2008, 08:12 PM    (permalink
BlindSite
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Default BlindSite's Top 15 Rookies to watch in 2009

Foreword: I left out a lot of the big name picks as we're all bored of reading about Matt Ryan and Run DMC by now. This list is in no particular order and it is in no way a bad word about any other player picked in the recent draft. These are just the guys I think will have a big impact.



Top 15 Rookies to watch in 2009

In no particular order:

1. Kevin Smith – RB - Detroit Lions – Drafted: 3rd round (64 overall).
After rushing for just shy (61 yards) of Barry Sanders single season rushing record and electing to come out as a Junior Kevin Smith finds himself in a perfect situation. Playing for an up and coming offense with two solid receivers to prevent eight man fronts Smith faces competition from journey man running back Tatum Bell. Smith should be able to use his impressive blend of size and awareness to push Bell down the depth chart and earn the starting job. Should the offensive line of the Detroit Lions find chemistry early a 1,000 yard rookie season is not out of the question. Due to his size and vision Smith is likely to see the majority of running downs and goal line carries throughout the season. Just quietly in a conference considered relatively weak defensively he just might push for OROY honors.

2. Matt Forte – RB – Chicago Bears – Drafted: 2nd round (44 overall)
Until the senior bowl the former Tulane running back was considered more of a Brian Leonard / Greg Jones type tweener at the RB position but the Chicago Bears obviously hold higher hopes for the college standout. While Forte’ doesn’t project to being a flashy highlight reel player he’ll be a solid downhill runner for the Chicago bears, providing what will become a much needed source of consistency on offense he should see the majority of carries since the release of Cedric Benson. His ability to catch the ball and throw a decent block will likely see him take the majority of snaps regardless of down and distance in the Chicago offense. Similar to Kevin Smith above, a 1,000 yard rookie season is certainly not out of the question.

3. Bradon Albert – OT – Kansas City Chiefs – Drafted: 1st round (15 overall)
The Kansas City chiefs are still attempting to rebuild an offensive line lacking in firepower since the retirement of two key cogs in successive years. Brandon Albert was labeled by former college coach Al Groh “the best offensive lineman I’ve ever coached” and although he still has some minor questions about his motor and his sudden change to the tackle position he figures to start from day one as the Kansas City left tackle. The chiefs are obviously hoping that the recent trend of first round tackles booming in the NFL continues as they used a high draft pick on a relatively unproven commodity. Whether or not he makes the switch successfully to both the NFL and the tackle position will be an interesting development during the season.

4. Brian Johnson – DE – Kansas City Chiefs – Drafted 7th round (210 overall)
One might be thinking “a seventh rounder!!!! Are you freakin’ nuts?” but Brian Johnson going in the seventh round may prove to be the steal of the NFL draft. Johnson despite not competing at the highest possible level was flat out dominant in his college career. He has excellent size, speed and performed well in the Hula bowl. There isn’t really a knock on Johnson’s came apart from the standard technique that all rookie’s have coming out and his college competition. Coming to KC as a clone of their previous second day defensive end (Jared Allen) is a great position for him as a rookie. Though he probably won’t see the starting job he should make an impact as a rotational situation guy. Mark Anderson was able to make an immense impact in the same sort of role as a rookie and Johnson truly has the same ability.

5. Philip Merling – DE – Miami Dolphins – Drafted: 2nd Round (32 overall)
Philip Merling was initially projected as an early first round pick, but a rash of injuries and poor work out performances dropped his stock considerably. A high intensity non-stop player, Merling should crack the starting lineup as a 3-4 end early in the season. The dolphins are clearly looking to build from the ground up and the Tuna likes better than anyone to build through the trenches. The Dolphins found themselves an excellent player early in the second who should be able to anchor the defensive line early in his career. Playing in a tough division will demonstrate his long term potential and while a 34 end almost never racks up statistics or highlight reel plays he’ll be a key cog in the dolphins plans to improve their horrendous record.

6. Sam Baker – OT –Atlanta Falcons – Drafted: 1st round (21st overall)
Though Baker wouldn’t have been my first pick to be a franchise left tackle. The Falcons obviously were enamored with him as a player seeing as they traded up for him late in the first round. A slightly undersized and at times lazy blocker Baker will likely be given the starting LT tackle job in training camp. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts especially facing John Abraham every day. Baker faces a who’s who of defensive ends in the NFC South and the falcons need him to step up early and often or face another long, dreary season.

7. Charles Godfrey – FS – Carolina Panthers – Drafted: 3rd round (67 overall)
The Carolina Panthers have been sorely lacking at the safety position for the last few years which has lead to the loss of some games the Panthers should have easily won. Fox likes to play a two deep scheme that asks his safeties to roll coverage and pickup breaking receivers. After playing in a cover 2 scheme for much of his college career Godfrey should fit into this role easily. As he’s already received high praise from Steve Smith and has taken the majority of snaps with the first team in the OTAs it appears the starting job is his to lose. Realistically all Godfrey has to do is make the occasional pass defense and tackle receivers that break free in broken coverage and he’ll be an immediate upgrade over anyone at the safety position in the past decade not named Mike Minter or Chris Harris.

8. Jeff Otah – OT – Carolina Panthers – Drafted: 1st round (19 overall)
The Panthers’ other first round pick will likely have just as big an impact as Stewart in his rookie season. A mountain of a man at 6-6 and 323 pounds Otah will likely be given the starting Right Tackle spot from day one. The Panthers are hoping for a playoff berth this year with John Fox earlier stating “this year, one thing’s for sure, we’re all in.” Clearly they’re praying for a Jordan Gross type rookie season to help protect the recently injured Jake Delhomme and tear open running lanes for the expensive backfield. Otah is a key cog in the coaching future of John Fox and the GM job in Carolina making this rookie’s performance all the more interesting.

9. Kenny Philips – S – New York Giants – Drafted: 1st round (31st overall)
Possessing incredible smarts and an excellent football pedigree Philips hopes to continue the line of Miami safeties who make a significant impact in the NFL. Playing under Giunta and Spagnolo the master minds of the Giants super bowl win should afford the rookie some levity in his game. With the departure in free agency of Gibril Wilson the Giants have a vacuum at safety and they’re hoping Philips can fill the void.

10. Duane Brown – OT Houston Texans – Drafted: 1st round (26th overall)
At first glance the pick of Duane Brown seems like a massive reach. However, upon closer inspection one comes to realize that for the Houston Texans there was no better tackle on the board who fit their blocking scheme. Another convert to the Alex Gibbs system Duane Brown’s agility and fleet footedness should see him crack the starting line-up early in his career. Key to success in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions is keeping your quarterback upright especially when he’s throwing to one of the game’s better targets in Andre Johnson. Duane Brown isn’t exactly fighting a stellar blocker in Salaam for the starting role, and a strong camp and pre-season may see him earn the starting job. In any event it seems that the success of a young offense may come to depend on Brown early in the 2008/9 season.

11. Dominique Rogers Cromartie – CB – Arizona Cardinals – Drafted: 1st round (16 overall)
With the move of Antrelle Rolle to free safety and Roderick Hood having a standout season there was a need to lock down the rest of the depth chart. With blazing 4.31 speed Cromartie should be able to push Eric Green for the starting role and at the very least take the nickel position from day one. In a division filled with wide receivers and passing offenses the Cardinals need play makers in the secondary. With Rolle at free safety, Roderick Hood and now Rogers-Cromartie they may finally be able to take the next step. Cromartie’s hands, speed and versatility should provide highlight reel plays for years to come and he has the ability to break into the starting lineup should he have a strong pre-season.

12. Dexter Jackson – WR – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Drafted: 2nd round (58 overall)
The Tampa bay buccaneers need to find a source of explosiveness on the offense. With Joey Galloway aging and Michael Clayton failing to live up to his rookie season in years past Jackson has a good opportunity to become an impact player for the Buccs. Figuring to feature largely as a return man and slot receiver he should see game action primarily on the ST units early in the year. The Buccs have been lacking in that arena for almost the entire history of their franchise and may have finally found an answer at the position. Jackson should make an early entrance into the team and provide some much needed go-forward on the special teams units. At wide receiver should Clayton pick up his act and Antonio Bryant find his brain he may be buried on the depth chart, but it’s hard to keep a small explosive receiver down in the NFL just ask Santana Moss and Steve Smith.

13. Tracy Porter – CB – New Orleans Saints – Drafted: 2nd round (40 overall)
Porter finds himself in a secondary severely lacking in talent after starting cornerback Mike McKenzie. Jason David and Randall *** put in effort every week and no one would question their determination and drive to succeed. Their pass coverage on the other hand isn’t exactly what one could consider stellar. The Saints have been having problems in shoot outs in years past and need play makers in the secondary. Similar to the situation of Arizona’s Cromartie, Porter should be able to beat out his competition in the secondary provided he picks up the defensive playbook quickly. Porter’s athleticism and speed made him one of the better man to man coverage guys in the draft and he is exactly what New Orleans needs. At the very least look for Porter to win the nickel job.

14. Pat Sims – DT – Cincinnati Bengals – Drafted: 3rd round (77 overall )
A perennial underachiever at Auburn Sims was selected more on his potential than his college production until his junior year. Sims is reminiscent of Kris Jenkins, with some concerns about his attitude, conditioning and his character his talent is undeniable and he should make an impact as a situational player. After Peko on the depth chart the Bengals don’t have a lot to get excited about but Sims would be best served coming in as a situational player as when he is fresh and motivated he can be a major factor. It’s doubtful he’ll end up the starter in 2008 it’s not outside the realm of possibility. His talent is undeniable it’s his will to succeed and his ability to pick up the defensive schemes that will affect the outcome.

15. Limas Sweed – WR – Pittsburgh Steelers – Drafted: 2nd round (53 overall)
In what will turn out to be a huge steal the Steelers picked up a tall rangy receiver that Big Ben lovers to target. Though he’ll be playing behind Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward Sweed should see a lot of action in Mike Tomlin’s offense. The idea behind the selection is likely to improve the Steelers options in the red zone and on third downs. With his size and hands Sweed will likely see a lot of jump balls and fades thrown his way. While he won’t be racking up 1,000 yards by any stretch 40 receptions for around about 450 yards and a handful of touchdowns isn’t out of the question.
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Last edited by BlindSite : 07-09-2008 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:16 PM    (permalink
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Thus far, the Bengal coaches have been impressed with Sim's work ethic. He's probably gonna be in the rotation with Peko/Thornton in the least. He doesn't have too big of a character concern either.
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:23 PM    (permalink
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I agree, he's not a risk so to speak. I really wanted him Carolina.
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:27 PM    (permalink
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very nice list glad it wasn't the normal BS like:

Matt Ryan is going to be ROTY
Run DMC is going to be a beast
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:33 PM    (permalink
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlindSite View Post

1. Kevin Smith – RB - Detroit Lions – Drafted: 3rd round (64 overall).
After rushing for just shy (61 yards) of Barry Sanders single season rushing record and electing to come out as a Junior Kevin Smith finds himself in a perfect situation. Playing for an up and coming offense with two solid receivers to prevent eight man fronts Smith faces competition from journey man running back Tatum Bell. Smith should be able to use his impressive blend of size and awareness to push Bell down the depth chart and earn the starting job. Should the offensive line of the Detroit Lions find chemistry early a 1,000 yard rookie season is not out of the question. Due to his size and vision Smith is likely to see the majority of running downs and goal line carries throughout the season. Just quietly in a division considered relatively weak defensively he just might push for OROY honors.
The only weak defense in the division belongs to the team he plays for. =\
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:39 PM    (permalink
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I meant conference... I'll fix it. Its not always easy to be your own proof reader.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:05 PM    (permalink
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Good to see props for Brian Johnston. He wasn't a combine invite and pro day numbers are sometimes sketchy but if you believe the numbers are accurate he was perhaps the most athletic defensive end in the draft.

Brian Johnston
6'5" 274
40 yrd dash: 4.66
20 yrd dash: 2.66
10 yrd dash: 1.51 (same as Darren McFadden)
vertical jump: 35"
20 yrd shuttle: 4.18 (same as Rashard Mendenhall)
3 cone drill: 6.96
225-pound bench press: 31 reps

I believe his 40 yrd dash time was the fastest for any lineman over 270 pounds. As far as athleticism is concerned Johnston blows Jared Allen out of the water. What makes Allen great is his wide variety of pass rush moves and great technique. If Johnston can come anywhere close to Allen in that area he could be pretty damn good.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:12 PM    (permalink
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Yeah, I heard this guy named DeSean Jackson is pretty damn good. Immediate impact on special teams ala Hester.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:16 PM    (permalink
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BJfor Chiefs will be seeing alot of time. 6-8 sacks would be my guess!
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<+BOE> Scott, with Burfict's character concerns (whether legit or not) you think Pioli would draft him. :D
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What's with the hate on Ricky Stanzi? Those youtube clips of him with the hulk hogan theme music instantly make him better than Luck.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:17 PM    (permalink
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What aboot Jonathan Stewart, Dan Connor, Gary Barnidge, Nick Hayden, Hilee taylor, Geoff Schwartz, and Mackenzy bernadeau?
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:23 PM    (permalink
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Mackenzy bernadeau wont make them team. no offense, i seen him play. he is good. but from Bentley to the NFL will overwhelm him. if im wrong slap me in 3 years.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:40 PM    (permalink
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I dont see Jeff Otah making an impact in 2009. Maybe later on his career.

I dont see DRC making an impact in 2009. He is way too raw. He needs to bulk and and learn alot of things for the Pro game. I see him just like his cousin. One year with a couple of snaps every now and then, another offseason, and then a breakout season (either next year or the year after).

I would say that the Kevin Smith and Matt Forte picks are about as popular as the Matt Ryan and Darren McFadden picks, but justified picks none the less.

I really like the Brian Johnson, Charles Godfrey picks. Pat Sims is a good choice as well.
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:41 PM    (permalink
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OMGZ, why didn't you pick everyz rookie from favorite team!?!?!?
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Old 07-09-2008, 09:46 PM    (permalink
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I agree with everything you said about Tracy Porter. Nickle at worst, but if he catches on quick, the starting lineup should be...

LCB, Mike McKenzie
RCB, Tracy Porter
NB, Randall ***
DB, Jason Craft
CB, Jason David
CB, Usama Young

Jerametrius Butler could be a sleeper if he returns to form.

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Old 07-09-2008, 10:15 PM    (permalink
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You mean 2008, right?

edit -

Also, I was under the impression that Gross is going to hold down the right side and Otah will be given a chance to play on the left side. I know you're a Panther fan, so what's the deal?
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:35 PM    (permalink
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Yeah, I heard this guy named DeSean Jackson is pretty damn good. Immediate impact on special teams ala Hester.
Thats what people thought Ginn first impact would be at. I don't think he could handle the tackles he will be getting on ST, IMO.
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Old 07-09-2008, 11:42 PM    (permalink
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Nice list of non boring players, bravo.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:15 AM    (permalink
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AMEN for Brian Johnston. Dude is a stuuuuuud.

Can't wait to see him on the field.
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Old 07-10-2008, 12:37 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by Paranoidmoonduck View Post
You mean 2008, right?

edit -

Also, I was under the impression that Gross is going to hold down the right side and Otah will be given a chance to play on the left side. I know you're a Panther fan, so what's the deal?
Gross is moving to the left side.
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:10 AM    (permalink
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Originally Posted by BlindSite View Post
Gross is moving to the left side.
How do you feel about that? Gross hasn't looked very hot on the left side in his NFL career and while I have my doubts about Otah working out on the left side in the pros, he's a career left tackle who has the mobility.
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:47 AM    (permalink
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Gross hasn't been bad on the left side.

He started at RT during the superbowl year, shifted between left and right tackle in 04 and did an OK job considering the shuffles and then held down the right in 06 and 07 he played almost an entire year at LT when Wharton went down against atlanta and if my records are correct he only gave up 7 sacks that year.

He gave up 3 last year was named by Len Pasqurelli an All-Pro.

I'm open to the idea of allowing Otah to take the LT job but to be honest with you I think the experiment this year at the tackle position is 2 fold.

1. See if Jordan Gross can play the leftside well, if he can then he'll get a contract extension, right now he's tagged.

2. See if Jeff Otah is dominant and mobile enough as a rookie to set him up for a move to the LT position in the offseason next year and allow Gross to walk as a free agent.

John Fox isn't afraid to let good players on the offensive line walk and in the past it has at times paid off.

To be honest I'm comfortable with the set up considering the teams we face this year on the schedule. If the Panthers do get to the playoffs then its another story.

I don't really like Gross having to face the likes of the backside rushers on teams like GB, NYG, Dallas and in Tampa or New Orleans. If it comes back to bite the team it'll be in the playoffs. I can deal with one sack every 2 games from a LT though. His biggest weakness is speed rushers. Hopefully putting him at LT with Peppers shift to RDE will help him improve his game through the pre-season though.
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:24 AM    (permalink
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Great write up Blindsite.

I especially like the bit on Dexter Jackson of the Buccaneers. I think it is incredibly accurate and shows that you have put in a fair bit of effort and shows great insight into a team other than your own.

I especially liked this quote.

Quote:
it’s hard to keep a small explosive receiver down in the NFL just ask Santana Moss and Steve Smith
Now Jackson doesn't have the bulk of Smith, but he certainly shares a lot of common traits with both of those receivers. Hopefully he is able to become something similar to them rather than being the next Sinorice Moss.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:00 AM    (permalink
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Good write up. My only criticism is that there are too many offensive tackles. This is a position that is a rather difficult transition for most players from college because of the speed of rushers. Last year was definitely an exceptional year to have three rookie tacklers perform so well. Just look how much even some of the top tier guys like Ferguson and Gallery have struggled in their first year in the league.

I would say that interior lineman have a much greater chance of having a more positive impact in the short term. Guys like Rachal and Zutah have an opportunity to make a splash. I think Roy Schuenning could also turn some heads given the Rams interior problems and how experienced he is.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:38 AM    (permalink
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I like the list, i might have added Johnson from Minnesota though
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:55 AM    (permalink
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no love View Post
Good write up. My only criticism is that there are too many offensive tackles. This is a position that is a rather difficult transition for most players from college because of the speed of rushers. Last year was definitely an exceptional year to have three rookie tacklers perform so well. Just look how much even some of the top tier guys like Ferguson and Gallery have struggled in their first year in the league.

I would say that interior lineman have a much greater chance of having a more positive impact in the short term. Guys like Rachal and Zutah have an opportunity to make a splash. I think Roy Schuenning could also turn some heads given the Rams interior problems and how experienced he is.
Just a query. How does Zuttah have a chance to make a splash?
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