AFC East Preview: C.J. Spiller Tops 10 Impact Rookies in 2010
For the past decade, the AFC East has been one of the toughest divisions in the National Football League. This past April, the Bills, Patriots, Jets, and Dolphins have bolstered their rosters with new young talent emerging from the NCAA.
The question is, which of those draft selections will have the biggest impact on their respective teams?
No. 10 Devin McCourty- New England Patriots
Coming out of Rutgers, Devin McCourty will have an impact, not as a dominating cornerback, but in the special teams and nickel package situations.
McCourty has average size and speed, but has a knack for getting in on every play, whether he is making a tackle or deflecting a pass.
At Rutgers, McCourty recorded 231 tackles, forced two fumbles, and made six interceptions.
No. 9 John Jerry- Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins bolstered an already powerful offensive line when they selected Mississippi offensive tackle John Jerry. By moving Jerry to guard, the Dolphins' line becomes one of the biggest in the NFL.
Now with Brandon Marshall lining up along the sidelines, the Dolphins want to make sure they have as many bodies protecting quarterback Chad Henne as possible.
No. 8 Alex Carrington- Buffalo Bills
Aside from die-hard Buffalo Bills fans, not many have heard of Alex Carrington. Coming out of Arkansas State in the highly overlooked Sun-Belt Conference, Carrington was a dominating and disruptive force in both passing and rushing situations.
Carrington recorded 14.5 sacks, and while he won't be the week one starter, expect to see more of him as the season progresses.
No. 7 Brandon Spikes- New England Patriots
Brandon Spikes was a sure-fire first round draft pick. Until the NFL Combine ruined his draft day plans. Spikes' draft stock took a hard hit after he ran a slow 40 at the combine.
However, Spikes has natural instincts and an uncommon knack for making plays, especially at the middle linebacker position.
As a Gator, Spikes was all over the field, recording 270 tackles, five sacks, and six interceptions, four of which were for touchdowns.
No. 6 Koa Misi- Miami Dolphins
Another relatively unknown prospect, Koa Misi is a natural athlete who will be a consistent pass rushing outside linebacker for the Miami Dolphins.
Last season, Misi made 71 tackles, 9.5 of which were for a loss. He also had five sacks and forced three fumbles. In his career as a Utah Ute, Misi racked up 201 tackles, 26 for a loss, 11 sacks, and seven forced fumbles.
Look for Misi to be a situational player, but he will make an impact nonetheless.
No. 5 Kyle Wilson- New York Jets
Even after acquiring Antonio Cromartie from the San Diego Chargers to line up opposite "Revis Island," the Jets decided to take the No. 2 ranked cornerback prospect in the draft, Kyle Wilson, from Boise State.
It is unlikely that he will beat out Cromartie for the starting role, but Wilson will be getting experience in nickel and dime packages, as well as on special teams, returning kicks and punts.
At Boise State, Wilson made 159 tackles, forced a fumble, and had 11 picks.
No. 4 Jermaine Cunningham- New England Patriots
Jermaine Cunningham was widely overlooked during his tenure as a Gator, due to the Tebow-Mania, the Brandon Spikes controversies, and the Dunlap arrest, but he still managed to get selected in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
Cunningham is a prototypical pass rusher, and will add youth to the Patriots' aging linebacking corps.
Cunningham ended his career at Florida with 18.5 sacks, 145 tackles, two forced fumbles, and an interception.
No. 3 Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski was drafted by the Patriots to fill a receiving void left by Wes Welker's questionable injury status, and Randy Moss' contract status.
At 6'6" and 265 lbs, Gronkowski is a powerful blocker, and has speed to make the big catches. Gronkowski was ranked as the No. 2 tight end, just after Oklahoma's Jermaine Gresham.
Last year, Gronkowski caught 47 passes for 672 yards and 10 touchdowns.
No. 2 Jared Odrick- Miami Dolphins
Jared Odrick is a model of what you look for in a 3-4 defensive end. Listed at 6'5" and 307 pounds, Odrick possesses great agility and ability to beat tackles and eat up blockers.
In the last two seasons as a Nittany Lion, Odrick has 84 tackles and 11 sacks. He will instantly be a positive impact to the Dolphins defensive front, who recently lost NT Jason Ferguson to a suspension.
No. 1 CJ Spiller- Buffalo Bills
C.J. Spiller is one of the most explosive players I have ever had the opportunity to watch. He is a threat in the rushing, passing, and special teams games. Just last season, Spiller rushed for 1,212 yards on 216 carries, making it to the end zone 12 times, while catching 36 passes for 503 yards and another four touchdowns.
Spiller has the home run ability, and will definitely have the most impact out of any rookie in the AFC East, if not the entire NFL.
Spillers stats at Clemson:
Rushing: 606 attempts, 3,547 yards, 32 touchdowns
Receiving: 123 receptions, 1,423 yards, 11 touchdowns
Kick/ Punt Returns: 161 returns, 2,621 yards, eight touchdowns.