Last season Adrian Peterson and Patrick Willis were two very dominating rookies. Adrian Peterson, the offensive rookie of the year, came to a team with a solid running game already and a good offensive line. Willis, the defensive rookie of the year, went to the 49ers who had a weak defense and not a great linebacker corps. Here are my predictions for the most successful rookies next season:
Offensive Rookies of the Year
1. Jake Long - Long is a powerful and dominating force at left tackle, taken first overall by the Miami Dolphins. He will be a starter right off the bat and he will help pave the way for Miami's running game. He will have a huge impact on this offense and Cam Cameron will help it get back on track.
2. Jonathan Stewart - Stewart was drafted thirteenth by the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers passing game is declining and this will cause them to turn to the run more often. Stewart could be the starter. I like his downhill running style and I think he will help Carolina's offense and be successful this season.
3. Rashard Mendenhall - Mendenhall fell all the way to the Steelers and he was a great pick up by them. He will likely be the second running back on the depth chart, behind Parker, but he will get plenty of carries, especially near the endzone. Parker only had one touchdown last season, this is a great opportunity for Mendenhall to get plenty of touchdowns.
Defensive Rookies of the Year
1. Keith Rivers - Rivers, like Willis last year, was drafted into a dismal defense. He will have the chance to make a huge impact from week one. He will be the playmaker for that defense and he will rack up tackles because his support is not very good. He will have a monster rookie season because of his situation.
2. Glenn Dorsey - Dorsey was a great pick by the Chiefs. He will be a force in the middle and he will excel against the runs. Look at his division foes; the Chargers, Raiders, and Broncos. All of these teams love to run the ball. Therefore he will have many opportunities to tackle the running back, resulting in great stats.
3. Chris Long - The second Long taken in the draft will have a big impact at defensive end for the Rams. With Carriker inside, there will be more room for Long outside. He has the ability to reach the passer and he is even better against the run. His non-stop motor and athleticism will help him succeed in the NFL.
Biggest Boom or Bust
Offense - Matt Ryan - The quarterback drafted third overall is going from Boston College to the Atlanta Falcons. Many people think of Ryan as a bust, but you never know. He will almost definitely get off to a rocky start because the Falcons are such a bad team, but he may turn it around. His receiving corps at Boston College wasn't exactly great. He can get it done without superb receivers. He has pretty good arm strength and good accuracy. He is pretty mobile and last season he had numerous clutch moments. I think he will turn out for the better.
Defense - Vernon Gholston - Gholston was drafted by the New York Jets out of Ohio State after losing in the National Championship. His work ethic and consistency have been questioned. He has been known to take plays off and disappear later in games. However, he has great athleticism and you can't deny that he has serious talent. If he learns to work hard and play every down, watch out. He should have a successful rookie season because he is lined up opposite of another good rushing outside linebacker, Calvin Pace. Sorry, but I don't think he will wind up being worth the sixth pick in the first round.
Offense - Chauncey Washington - Washington was drafted by the Jaguars in the seventh round of the draft. Yes, I realize that the Jags have a great running game, but Fred Taylor won't be around forever. Washington missed a year because of his grades, but he showed potential while playing for the Trojans. His academic questions hurt him a lot, but I believe he has plenty of talent.
Defense - Frank Okam - Okam fell all the way to the fifth round where he was picked up by the Houston Texans. This defensive tackle is massive. He is 6'5" and 315 pounds. He could be a beast in the middle. He will certainly plug up holes and take up plenty of space along the line.
Offense - Chris Johnson - Johnson has speed, I'll give you that, but he wasn't worth a first round pick. His blazing speed will certainly be a valuable asset, but can he stand up to the physical play in the NFL? Also, the Titans didn't really need another running back. I have heard he may be used as a receiver. If this is true, why didn't they just draft a receiver? If he is going to be a reciever, he could be undersized at 5'11". Clearly a reach, in my opinion.
Defense - Derrick Harvey - Harvey was not a top ten pick. The Jaguars gave up a pretty good amount to move up in the draft and take Harvey. Harvey did fill a need, but I don't think he was worth all of this money and all that they traded. He fits in well in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars could have waited and given up less to a later team to draft him. Also, they wouldnt have to pay nearly as much money.
Top Undrafted Free Agent
Erin Henderson - The brother of E.J. Henderson was signed by his brother's team. Sure the Vikings have a great defense and he may not get much playing time, but he was the best undrafted player. He certainly has the family pedigree (aforementioned brother, E.J.) and he has size and talent. His techinque definitely needs improvement, as does his ability to shed block. He was star at Maryland and who knows, maybe he can play like his underrated brother.