Before every NFL season, there are, of course, predictions. Who will win the Super Bowl, who will win MVP.
Who will win Rookie of the Year.
In some ways, this final task is decidedly more difficult. We don't know how the rookies will perform in the NFL, and we don't know how they will be used. It's a lot of guesswork.
We can, however, take what we do know and make educated guesses.
And if we can do that, we're obviously going to.
Many have criticized Luke Kuechly for not making impact plays and for struggling at getting off blocks. This may or may not be true, but one thing definitely is.
Kuechly racks up tackles.
A whole different argument can be made about the value of tackles, but they are still a widely publicized stat that often wins awards.
This will work in Kuechly's favor, but it won't be enough to propel a non-pass-rushing linebacker to Rookie of the Year.
One of the keys here is Philadelphia's defensive line coach, Jim Washburn. Washburn has consistently gotten freakish numbers out of his linemen, including Albert Haynesworth in Tennessee.
Fletcher Cox wasn't an Ndamukong Suh-esque prospect, but he is a dynamic player nonetheless. A penetrating defensive tackle, Cox is explosive and can split out to defensive end at times.
In Washburn's scheme, Cox will shoot the gaps and have plenty of playmaking opportunities. His numbers should be excellent in his first NFL season.
Andrew Luck has been praised as pro-ready, so he should be in the Rookie of the Year mix. At Stanford, Luck ran a pro-style offense, so he isn't facing a huge adjustment in transitioning to the NFL.
Working against Luck is the talent around him. The Colts don't have many great weapons to which Luck can throw, and the team's run game should be well below average.
Realistically, Luck will produce good numbers—not great. In a talented rookie class, that probably won't be enough to bring home the prize.
As we've seen over the years, mobile rookie quarterbacks—Cam Newton and Vince Young, for example—perform well. The added running threat seems to make the transition to the NFL easier.
Robert Griffin certainly fits the profile. Few quarterbacks are more athletic than Griffin is, and the No. 2 overall pick should pick up quite a few yards on the ground.
However, Washington hasn't yet surrounded Griffin with great talent, and he will initially struggle some as a passer. Playing quarterback helps, but Griffin is far from a sure bet to be the NFL's most outstanding rookie.
By all accounts, Trent Richardson is going to be Cleveland's offensive focus in 2012. This, combined with Richardson's exceptional talent, makes him the easy Rookie of the Year favorite.
Running backs often face little adjustment to the pro game, and, as a result, they do well in Rookie of the Year voting. Richardson faces even less of an adjustment than most backs.
The Alabama star will be featured in Cleveland's backfield on almost every down, and the Browns will be running the ball quite a bit.
And based on Richardson's college play, he should run the ball quite well.