NFL Playoff Predictions: 4 Rookies Who Will Come Up Huge in Divisional Round

Adam OdekirkContributor IIJanuary 8, 2012

NFL Playoff Predictions: 4 Rookies Who Will Come Up Huge in Divisional Round

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    This NFL season has seen a rebirth of rookies making an immediate impact on their teams. Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Von Miller and many others have shown signs that they may turn the fortunes of their franchises.

    However, there are only a select few who are going to have the opportunity to help their teams in the playoffs.

    Some rookies, like J.J. Watt, have already put their stamp on the playoffs, while others are waiting to have their opportunities.

    Here are four rookies who will look to have an impact on their team's fortunes in the playoffs.

J.J. Watt

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    The pick that seemed like one of the more boring of last year's first round for Houston paid dividends in a big way on Saturday.

    J.J. Watt has seemed to gain momentum as the season drew to a close and continued that trend in the Wild Card Matchup with the Bengals.

    Watt will be matched up with a veteran bunch on offensive line in Baltimore, but it's more a question of whether Watt's inexperience can be overcome by a superior effort.

    Joe Flacco can be a playoff caliber quarterback when the pressure is off, but J.J. Watt is going to ensure that isn't the case in their divisional game.

    Look for Wade Phillips to design more plays to help showcase the athleticism of Watt as a pass-rusher.

Randall Cobb

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    Whether it's in the return game, or as a wide receiver who easily gets lost amongst the star power of the Green Bay offense, expect to see Cobb in the end zone.

    Green Bay has slowly but surely incorporated Cobb into the offense and in the absence of Greg Jennings down the stretch Cobb has had more reps than usual.

    Green Bay will utilize Cobb's speed and design routes that don't require much savvy in terms of route running for the rookie but instead trust that opposing defenses might lose track of the speedster and not be able to recover quickly enough. 

Aldon Smith

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    The San Francisco 49ers are boasting one of the most fearsome pass-rushers in the NFL this season, and he just happens to be a rookie in Aldon Smith.

    Smith is the clear front-runner for Defensive ROTY and the New Orleans Saints are busy trying to scheme a way to keep him out of Drew Brees' face next weekend. 

    New Orleans may only hope to slow him down, but even if he doesn't actually sack Brees on multiple plays his pressure may still throw off the timing of the well-oiled Saints offense.

T.J. Yates

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    The Houston Texans did a great job of rallying around their rookie quarterback, and he rewarded them by connecting on a long touchdown with Andre' Johnson.

    Yates looked the cooler customer of the two rookie quarterbacks, however Yates wasn't asked to come from behind and press like Andy Dalton was forced to.

    Yates may not light up the stat sheet, but the confidence from his first playoff victory, in his first playoff start, makes it more likely that Yates will not be the reason that the Texans lose...if they lose.