Robert Griffin III and 4 Other NFL Rookies That Impressed During OTAs
The NFL's OTA period is the first chance for rookies to practice with veterans and give us a glimpse of what they will bring to the table once training camp starts later in the summer.
So far, several members of the 2012 NFL draft class have already stood out and been noticed by coaches and veterans. The following five players have all already caught the attention of observers and could make some noise during the 2012 season.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
When the Washington Redskins traded up to position themselves to take Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 pick in the 2012 NFL draft, they were expecting to get a franchise quarterback. After the first few days of OTAs, Griffin's teammates seem to believe the franchise has found its answer under center.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks relayed how veteran linebacker London Fletcher was positively gushing about the rookie signal-caller. Receivers Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon were also impressed with the Baylor product.
Griffin's new teammates weren't just impressed with his athleticism, they also thought his passes looked sharp and his accuracy was ahead of what they expected. He has also stepped up and impressed with his leadership and maturity.
Head coach Mike Shanahan has obviously tweaked his offense a bit to fit his rookie quarterback. Griffin was put in tons of roll-out situations early on, which is an obvious attempt by the team to take advantage of his speed and ability running the football.
It appears that the Redskins made the right move when they traded up to grab Griffin. He is fitting right in.
Dontari Poe, Kansas City Chiefs
The general consensus on Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe heading into the 2012 NFL draft was that it would take time for him to translate his immense potential into actual results on the field. The Kansas City Chiefs apparently disagree.
Kansas City made Poe the 11th pick in the 2012 draft, and they like what they've seen so much that he is now the team's starting nose tackle. According to Josh Looney of KCChiefs.com, Poe worked with the starting defense during OTAs.
Poe has been lining up in the middle of the team's 3-4 defense, flanked by Tyson Jackson on his left and Glenn Dorsey on his right. That looks like a formidable defensive line.
While Poe is certain to be a little raw as a rookie, his size (6'4" and 346 pounds) and the ridiculous athleticism he showed at the combine will obviously help him. The Chiefs already believe in him, which is a big first step.
Rueben Randle, New York Giants
New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks broke his right foot and will likely miss 12 weeks as he recovers. Luckily, the G-Men have already been more than impressed with rookie receiver Rueben Randle.
The Giants grabbed Randle with the final pick in the second round (No. 63) of the 2012 draft and it appears the LSU wideout is a perfect fit so far. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen (via Pro Football Talk), Randle is fitting in perfectly so far. The Giants believed he was the most NFL-ready receiver available this year and they are even more firm in that belief now.
With Nicks out until at least August, expect Randle to run with the first-team offense until the veteran is back and healthy. In the end, the rookie will likely be New York's third receiver, which means he will be stepping in and taking Mario Manningham's spot.
Lamar Miller, Miami
Many listed Lamar Miller as one of the top running backs in the 2012 draft, but somehow the Miami Dolphins were able to snag him in the fourth round at No. 97. Judging by how he has played so far during OTAs, that pick is looking like one of the steals of the draft.
The University of Miami product has been a standout so far, according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Miller's speed has never been questioned, but his overall ability to run the football consistently has. Apparently, he's erasing a lot of those doubts early on.
Head coach Joe Philbin told the Palm Beach Post that in an effort to get Miller on the field, the Dolphins could use him as a receiver. Miami already has two solid tailbacks in Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas, so there might not be a ton of carries to go around.
However they use him, it appears that the Dolphins are loving what they have seen from Miller so far and they plan to get him on the field and utilize his speed as soon as possible.
Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals desperately needed to upgrade their No. 2 receiver spot in the 2012 draft, and they may have done that by getting Mohamed Sanu with the 83rd pick. The Rutgers product impressed during OTAs and could fit right in across from Pro Bowler A.J. Green.
According to Bengals.com, Green was impressed by Sanu, who looked smooth and fast on the field. He also went on to say that some of the older guys on the team compared the rookie favorably to Cincinnati's former No. 2 wideout, T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
Cincinnati has a large group of wideouts competing for the No. 2 spot across from Green, but don't be surprised if Sanu ends up being the guy. During his final collegiate season, he caught 115 passes for 1,206 yards and seven touchdowns, so he is used to seeing a lot of balls thrown his way.
With Green receiving a ton of attention from opposing defenses, whoever wins the No. 2 receiving spot will need to be able to handle a high volume of passes. Sanu could be the perfect guy for the job.
If the first few days of OTAs were any indication, he'll likely win the spot.