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Perfect Veteran/Rookie Combinations in the NFL

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIDecember 11, 2016

Perfect Veteran/Rookie Combinations in the NFL

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    Sometimes it can be hard for rookies and veterans to work alongside each other in the NFL...but that wasn't the case for these guys.

    With the 2013 NFL Draft under way we'll see a whole new crop of rookies come into the league this season and try to learn from the veterans on their respective teams.

    The new guys can only hope to come in and mesh with their older counterparts as well as these rookies did last season.

Honorable Mentions

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    Chandler Jones & Vince Wilfork (Patriots)

    Michael Floyd & Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals)

    Stephon Gilmore & Jairus Byrd (Bills)

    Whitney Mercilus & Antonio Smith (Texans)

10. Dont'a Hightower & Jerod Mayo (Patriots)

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    The New England Patriots looked to strengthen their defense in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, and the team drafted strongside linebacker Dont'a Hightower to help them.

    Hightower went No. 25 overall in the draft, and he's proven to be a viable option at the position. He is coming off an impressive rookie campaign during which he racked up 60 tackles and 4.0 sacks. This talented rookie has a bright future in Foxborough, and he has the privilege of playing with Jerod Mayo, who posted outstanding numbers in 2012.

    Mayo will be entering his sixth season in the league at weakside linebacker this year, coming off a season during which he accumulated 147 tackles, 3.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception.

    These two make for a fierce combo of outside linebackers in the Pats' 4-3 defense, and they will continue to wreak havoc on the field for years to come.

9. Morris Claiborne & DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys)

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    Last year the Dallas Cowboys traded up to the No. 6 overall pick in the draft to take talented cornerback Morris Claiborne, despite him scoring four out of 50 on the Wonderlic test.

    Claiborne looks like he will be molded into one of the top defensive backs in the league, due in part to the help he'll be receiving in the pass rush department.

    Having veteran DeMarcus Ware racking up 11.5 sacks and pressuring quarterbacks to make errant throws is going to be a huge boost for the young corner out of LSU.

    Claiborne is dangerous enough as it is, but having one of the top pass rushers in the league on his team will help him as he continues to develop into an NFL player.

8. Mark Barron & Ronde Barber (Buccaneers)

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    There have been few safeties as talented and efficient as Ronde Barber in NFL history. The future Hall of Famer is coming off another spectacular season, posting 92 tackles (his best performance since 2006), forcing five turnovers and finding the endzone once.

    Barber is contemplating retirement, but if he comes back he will play a big role with the team once again.

    Who better to play alongside Barber than Mark Barron, the safety out of Alabama who was taken seventh overall in last year's draft?

    Barron is a ballhawk at the strong safety position. He has a list of strengths longer than his arms and his only true weaknesses are nit-picky at best.

    If Barber returns and Barron continues to develop, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have one of the best combinations of safeties we've seen in a long time. Unfortunately we may have already seen the last of this combo, which is why it comes in at No. 8.

7. David Wilson & Eli Manning (Giants)

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    It's tough to say that David Wilson will have a big year at running back for the New York Giants this season after he was overshadowed by Ahmad Bradshaw in his rookie year, but I'm expecting big things from him down the road.

    Wilson was very efficient during his time on the field, rushing for over five yards per carry and finding the endzone four times on his 71 rushes. He scored on one of every 17.75 carries, which is better than Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson, Alfred Morris, Doug Martin and Marshawn Lynch.

    Wilson will be the ground game behind Eli Manning's arm. The younger Manning had another solid season, throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 26 touchdowns.

    These two will be the backbone of the Giants' offense for the next few years.

6. Doug Martin & Carl Nicks (Buccaneers)

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    You knew that the Muscle Hamster would find his way onto this list, and it just so happens that he plays alongside one of the best blockers in the game of football.

    Doug Martin's sensational rookie season (1,454 yards, 11 touchdowns) was aided in part by the play of left guard Carl Nicks.

    Nicks is the best offensive lineman on the most expensive line in football, and he anchored the team's ground game when healthy.

    While he has been dealing with injuries, if Nicks stays healthy he and Martin will be a fantastic duo for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

5. Trent Richardson & Joe Thomas (Browns)

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    Trent Richardson is an animal. Carrying 230 pounds of pure muscle at just 5'9" makes him extremely difficult to stop, and when he gets a full head of steam it's next to impossible to take him down.

    Richardson ran for just 950 yards last season, however, because opponents would stack the box, yet he managed to find the endzone 11 times.

    A big reason why Richardson is able to punch it in is the run blocking of left tackle Joe Thomas. While Thomas is known primarily as one of the best pass protectors in the league, he was able to help Richardson push forward, springing him loose a few times and helping him score even more often.

    With Richardson being just 21 years old, these two have the potential to keep improving as a unit and become the backbone of an explosive rushing attack.

4. Matt Kalil & Adrian Peterson (Vikings)

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    It feels weird calling Adrian Peterson a veteran, but the dude's already entering his seventh year in the league! Considering that I remember drafting him in the seventh round of my fantasy draft that year (huge steal), I feel pretty old.

    Peterson is coming off arguably the most incredible season any running back has ever had, and it is due in part to the blocking of first round pick, Matt Kalil.

    The fourth overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft is working to become en elite left tackle, and he has become a solid option when it comes to run blocking, making it to his first Pro Bowl last season.

    Peterson is clearly here to stay, and with Kalil constantly improving you can bet that these two are going to have a lot of fun together.

3. Robert Griffin III & Pierre Garcon (Redskins)

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    It didn't take long for Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garcon to show that they're a great QB-WR combo. In the first game of the 2012 season the two connected for 109 yards and a score, and they kept pushing from there.

    RG3's mobility and dual-threat nature make him a difficult player to contain, and it is when he is able to extend plays that Garcon becomes a huge threat.

    Garcon's brightest moments often come when the defensive coverage breaks down and he simply needs to find ways to get open. When he does, RG3 finds him and the two usually connect for big gains.

    While these two both have had injury problems in the past they're difficult to stop when healthy.

2. Russell Wilson & Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks)

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    Can you name five playmakers from last year's Seattle Seahawks' offense? Just about everyone can name Marshawn "Skittles" Lynch and rookie phenom Russell Wilson, but after that it becomes a bit tougher.

    The Seahawks have a perfect combination at running back and quarterback, as Lynch's ability to run over defenders compliments Wilson's quickness and agility once he takes off.

    Seattle ranked third in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 161.2, and defenses were unable to stop the team by the end of the year when these two were clicking.

    Wilson put the team on his back down the stretch, and he and Lynch will make up a fearsome combo for years to come.

1. Andrew Luck & Reggie Wayne (Colts)

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    The chemistry that quickly developed between Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne is the epitome of a perfect combination of a rookie and a veteran.

    The first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft had a great start in the NFL, racking up 4,374 passing yards and 23 touchdowns through the air, not to mention his 255 yards and five scores on the ground.

    It was a relatively easy transition for Luck because he was throwing to future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne, whose 1,355 receiving yards ranked seventh in the league.

    This was a win-win situation, as Luck came in and played excellent football, while Wayne was revitalized and had one of the best seasons of his career.

    These two stand alone as the best combo between and rookie and a vet, and hopefully we'll see some more magic this season.

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