Cincinnati Football: Which Ex-Bearcat Will Have Best Rookie NFL Season in 2012?
The Cincinnati Bearcats had four players selected in the 2012 NFL draft, one of which will have a much better rookie season than the others.
The four players selected were taken in the first four rounds of the draft, a testament to what an incredible job head coach Butch Jones has done with the program since taking over in 2009.
Defensive tackle Derek Wolfe and running back Isaiah Pead were pegged as early-round selections thanks to their productive careers at Cincinnati, and that’s exactly what happened to both.
Wolfe was selected with overall pick No. 36 by the Denver Broncos. He was named the Co-Defensive Player of the Year for the Big East in 2011 and had an impressive season with 70 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
Wolfe will play his way into the defensive line rotation for the Broncos because he is versatile enough to play any position on the defensive line. He has enough strength and athleticism to be efficient in rushing the passer or plugging the run. He’ll share snaps with Ty Warren, Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan.
Pead was selected a few picks later with the No. 50 overall selection by the St. Louis Rams. He was the 2011 Big East Offensive Player of the Year with 1,259 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 319 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
Pead will be the spell back in St. Louis to none other than Steven Jackson. Pead is an effective change-of-pace back for the Rams that can run with power up the middle or catch passes with ease. He’s a dual-threat running back that could make a big difference for the Rams next season.
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While Wolfe and Pead were expected to be taken high in the draft, the next two Bearcats off the board weren’t expected to be selected anywhere close to where they ended up.
Defensive tackle John Hughes was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 80 overall selection in the draft. Hughes had a solid 2011 campaign that saw him rack up 51 tackles and five sacks.
Hughes will find himself with more playing time than initially expected now that Browns starting defensive tackle Phil Taylor is out for the season with a torn pectoral. Hughes is very effective against the run, which is a perfect fit for Cleveland in the AFC North.
Finally, tight end Adrien Robinson was selected by the Super Bowl champion New York Giants with pick No. 127. Robinson caught 12 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns in 2011.
Robinson is going to struggle to make the Giants roster because of the players in front of him on the depth chart like Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett, Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum. He’s a great candidate for the practice squad.
Which former player will have the best rookie NFL season?
While Wolfe and Hughes will be part of a deep rotation, they aren’t likely to have flashy statistics. Robinson might not make the Giants’ roster, so he’s out of consideration.
That only leaves one candidate: Isaiah Pead.
Which former Bearcat will have the best rookie season?
Pead landed in the absolute best situation possible. He’s not a starting back just yet, and he won’t be asked to take that role in St. Louis. He also didn’t land with a team that will bury him on the depth chart.
Instead, Pead is the second running back on the depth chart to one of the best running backs in the league in Steven Jackson. Pead is fortunate enough to come in after Jackson has worn down the opposing defense and take advantage.
Pead will likely put up great numbers as the back behind Jackson. His combination of legitimate running and pass-catching skills will allow him to put up better numbers than most of the rookie running backs that were taken in the draft.
Pead will have the best rookie season out of any former Bearcat taken in the draft, and he could have the best career as well. The Rams have openly said they view Pead as the successor to Jackson, and he certainly has the skills to make that impact quickly.
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