The 2008 NFL Draft was only a few weeks ago and rookie minicamps have just started, but it's never too early to look ahead and wonder which rookies will make an impact.
Everyone loves to think their team's rookies will step up and fill holes. And everyone also loves to think their team will win the Super Bowl this year. But the fact of the matter is that only one team will win the Super Bowl and only some teams will have rookies that will make everyone's jaws drop in awe.
Darren McFadden was widely considered a franchise running back, often compared to Adrian Peterson's running style. So is he going to be just as successful in his rookie season as Adrian Peterson was? Doubt it. On the NFL Network, Darren McFadden was once asked which running back he compares himself to. Like everyone else, he answered Adrian Peterson. He said they both had a physical running style with the explosiveness. However, McFadden added that he was not as physical as Adrian Peterson. So, while McFadden may have a great rookie year, in no way will he come close to Adrian Peterson's rookie success.
Another factor that may slow McFadden's productivity is his inconsistency. Although he did run for 1,830 yards this past season at Arkansas, he was held under 100 rushing yards in three games. Two of those games were against less than average teams. He ran for 43 yards against Auburn, 61 against Florida International, and 88 against Mississippi State. For no reason should he have had such a low total against Mississippi State or Florida International but it is what it is. Although he makes up for his bad games by exploding in other games, the NFL is not the place to be inconsistent. But isn't that what training camp is for? To help get the kinks out to get a smooth running machine? Let's wait and see if he's a bust or not.
Matt Ryan going 3rd to the Falcons seemed to be a pick that surprised everyone, especially with Glenn Dorsey still being on the board. It was definitely a bold pick for Atlanta that will either make or break GM Thomas Dimitroff. Will Matt Ryan be able to replace Michael Vick fully? Probably not. Ryan is not the dual-threat Michael Vick was. You will never see Matt Ryan pass and run for 1,000 yards each, but you will see him pass for 3,000+ yards. Matt Ryan has excellent touch and a great arm with a mind that is mature beyond his ages. The only problem scouts have noticed in Ryan's game is his above-average amount of interceptions. But that's something for the coaches and him to work on in the preseason so that he can become one of the elite QBs by the end of the season.
The last player I want to go into depth about is Vernon Gholston. A lot of people said he would be one of the busts of the season. As the 6th overall pick in this draft, Gholston was the 2nd-ranked defensive end in this year's draft that was highly touted for its depth in non-skill positions. The top 6 picks alone included 3 defensive lineman, already showing its depth in non-skill positions. But anyways, Gholston has a great passion for the game even though thats the aspect of his game that has been questioned. He is a force on the edge and he is the only player this year that beat #1 overall pick Jake Long for a sack. What does that mean? It means he was able to beat the best offensive lineman in this year's draft. He won't be a bust, although it'll take him a couple years to become an elite pass-rusher. Still, he'll have a solid rookie season unlike Mario Williams's rookie season.
There are also some other picks who could be potentially dangerous in their rookie season. WR/KR/PR specialist Desean Jackson is a threat no matter where he is on the field. As a college player, he was the best punt returner and was also a dangerous man as a wide receiver with his explosive speed. Jackson dropped to the 2nd round in what was a draft filled with trades and a first round that went wide receiver-less. Joe Flacco, a no-name QB before the combine, has already started showing what he can do as he has impressed at training camp. Flacco, the 18th overall pick, was virtually a no-namer to the general public until he stepped up at the combine and showed that his name fits in with all the other top college players making the transition.
It should be an interesting season for this year's rookies with all the hype surrounding some of them. Let's see how each rookie reacts to the opinions about them and whether they can debunk or solidify the theories of experts.