As the NFL Draft nears with each day, S and G Sports has taken an early look at the top candidates for 2009 Rookie of the Year. These players should make seamless transitions from the college game to pro ball.
Selections were made based on quality of college career and how well we feel their skills will be utilized in the NFL.
It is all too easy to expect the first round choices to win the award, so S and G Sports have also looked at players whose names will not be called until the later rounds.
And without further adieu, the Top 10 Candidates for 2009 NFL's Rookie of the Year...
Johnson is perhaps one of the more underrated backs in the draft this year. Many have overlooked Johnson due to his quiet senior year and past injury history. But as Coach Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend!”
We find Johnson to be a delightful prospect. He is the epitome of a team player, demonstrated specifically in his running style: following his blockers and doing what the coach asks.
His work ethic is bar none. He sets extraordinarily high standards and goals for himself, and he will be in the weight room or on the field until he achieves them.
Johnson is an instinctive player, with quick feet and a competitiveness that earns yards on every carry.
Freeman is, perhaps, one of the most athletic outside linebackers in this year’s draft. Many scouts have looked away from Freeman due to injury issues and playing in the shadow of fellow LB James Laurinaitis.
However, Freeman is extremely elusive and will be a noteworthy force on special teams.
A three-year starter in the Big Ten has brought him much experience against premier talent and will vault Freeman to a quick start in the NFL.
"Beanie" Wells is one of few big backs with terrific feet. At 235 pounds, he has quickly been boxed as a “big back” but his 40 time and breakaway speed are more impressive than many believe.
Wells will be a dynamic power back with explosiveness teams need, especially on short yardage situations.
His production, especially late in games, will provide too tempting a benefit to questions of his durability and toughness.
A sack master is fast, strong, and greedy for the ball. Brown is everything an NFL Defensive Coordinator drools about in his sleep, while he’s dreaming of his next Reggie White or Bruce Smith.
Brown is the prototype pass rushing defensive end in this year’s draft. He terrorized offenses with his explosive start, large wingspan, and seemingly unending motor.
Brown can instantly become a defensive weapon both as a pass rushing defensive end or a rush outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Robiskie is cited as being perhaps the smartest receiver on the board this year. He has great instincts, and coupled with outstanding possession hands will warrant him a load of catches this season.
In addition, his lifetime of personal training under his father, longtime NFL WR coach and former Redskin head coach Terry Robiskie, should pay dividends in Brian’s adjustment to the big leagues, putting him a step ahead of the competition.
Intensity, Intensity, Intensity. An ultra competitive spirit, with a genuine passion for knocking heads and a big body to cash the checks, equals instant excitement in the NFL.
With his hamstring injury behind him and the need for a starting ILB all over the board, Maualuga will step in on Day 1 and set the tone for any defense.
A handful of forced fumbles, picks, sacks, and a resume of leveling backs should align Maualuga nicely for an ROTY nomination.
Patience, a big knock on many rookie running backs is not a problem for Brown. His ability to break down blocks and follow the seams is a big reason for his 2,000+ yard junior season.
Brown will bring an explosive, shifty complement to a team’s running attack.
Early comparisons have been made to Philadelphia’s Brian Westbrook as Brown is a tremendous threat in the passing game. Expect his future team to take full adavantage of his skill set by giving him touches early and often.
This former receiver turned cornerback is heralded for his menacing size at 6'3" and 214 pounds. Smith was counted on in his three years to shut down opposing teams’ top receiver.
His most impressive performance was perhaps his final one, against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, where he kept freshman sensation Julio Jones out of the end zone.
His confidence and ball skills will serve him well in the NFL, where he will bring a deadly combo of size and strength to shut down the NFL’s elite.
Expect Smith to be drafted as a ball-hawking free safety where his athleticism can be fully utilized.
Curry has proven himself as the premier linebacker in this year’s draft. A productive four-year career at Wake Forest brought him many accolades, namely the Dick Butkus Award, and loads of experience.
There are no durability questions here as Curry never missed a game due to injury. His sideline speed and explosion as a pass rusher will be an instant nightmare for pass blockers.
His maturity and team first focus will bear immediate fruit in rookie camp and on the field.
Maclin’s career is one big cannonball. What he lacks in size, he makes up with speed and excitement.
Maclin can explode on stage at slot receiver and as a specialist. With his ability to return kicks and his exlposive run after catch ability, Maclin will put up big numbers fast.