This is the first of a series of articles about which NFL rookies from last year will sustain success this upcoming season, or struggle.
I’m starting positively, talking about which offensive players will avoid slumps this season. The players are not ranked in any order. These are just five guys I believe will breakout.
I am going to try to get the other three installments of this series written and published as soon as possible. Let me know what all of you think.
Receptions - 48
Yards - 625
AVG - 13.0
YDS/G - 56.8
TD - 2
20+ - 10
FUM - 1
Missed games, due to contract disputes, prevented Crabtree from having the type of season that many, including myself, expected him to have coming out of college.
Learning under veteran Isaac Bruce was huge for Crabtree’s development, since he had already started off on the wrong foot. In his abbreviated season, he demonstrated why he should have been the number one wide receiver taken in the draft.
With the retirement of Bruce this offseason, I believe Crabtree is primed for a breakout season. The only other viable receiver the 49ers have on the roster, is tight end Vernon Davis, so Crabtree will get his opportunities to shine.
I liked his toughness and ability to catch the ball coming out of college, and I believe he will show more of both in the upcoming season.
Rushes - 108
Yards - 540
AVG - 5.0
YDS/G - 38.6
TD - 2
20+ - 5
FUM - 3
Sitting behind a 1,400 yard rusher in Thomas Jones, and main backup Leon Washington last season, Greene was only able to play sparingly. When Washington injured his leg, however, Greene began to get some more touches and flashed his potential in spurts.
It wasn’t until the postseason where they seemed to supplant Jones as the starter, and his injury against the Colts was probably the downfall of the team in that game.
This showing made the team confident enough in him that they let Thomas Jones walk and signed LaDainian Tomlinson. Even with L.T. there, Greene is expected to shoulder a lot of the load. I believe running behind, maybe, the best offensive line in the NFL, Greene could be in line for a huge season.
Attempts - 377
Comp - 201
Pct - 53.3
Yards - 2,267
AVG - 6.0
YDS/G - 226.7
TD - 13
Int - 20
Rating - 61.0
Being selected number one overall in the draft comes with some pretty big expectations. Matt Stafford did not have a huge season; however, he showed the potential to be the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be.
This culminated in a tough shootout win against the Browns in which he threw the game-winning touchdown with a separated left shoulder.
The Detroit Lions are on the rise and Stafford is a big part of that reason. They just vastly improved their defense in this year’s draft and proved that they could have a potent offense at times last season.
Stafford has the weapons around him with an improving offensive line, a first-round tight end in Pettigrew, and a beast at wide receiver in Calvin Johnson. I expect big things from Stafford this season and a continued improvement with the whole team.
Rushes - 176
Yards - 793
AVG - 4.5
YDS/G - 49.6
TD - 7
20+ - 4
FUM - 4
When the Arizona Cardinals went to the Super Bowl two seasons ago, they had the worst rushing game in the NFL, despite then-rookie Tim Hightower being among the leaders in touchdowns.
So, Beanie Wells falling into their laps in the draft seemed like the perfect fit for a team who always had a problem finding a good number one running back.
Splitting time with Hightower this past season, Wells was able to put up some decent numbers, even if he fumbled a few more times than the Cardinals would have liked. I believe he will hang on to the ball more this season and will run through the NFL.
With the signing of Alan Faneca, the offensive line will be much improved for Wells to run behind.
Receptions - 39
Yards - 756
AVG - 19.4
YDS/G - 47.2
TD - 6
20+ - 14
FUM - 1
No one expected Mike Wallace to contribute like he did as a rookie with the Steelers. However, after former second-round pick Limas Sweed struggled to hang on to the football and stay on the field, Wallace began to get more and more playing time.
He showed an ability to stretch the field with his speed and good hands in clutch situations, punctuated with the last-second touchdown catch against the Green Bay Packers.
Now with the departure of Santonio Holmes, Wallace will need to step up as a starting wide receiver. He is going to be matched up with the other teams’ best corner at times and will need to prove he can consistently get behind the defense.
I believe Wallace has the speed and hands to become a great weapon in the Steelers' offense this season. Also, another year learning from Hines Ward will immensely help his development into a possible number-one wide receiver.