NFL Season Preview: The 15 Most Influential Rookies in the AFC
As NFL training camps approach, the talk of the camp will be starting positions on the line.
Thus, many of the leagues finest rookies get a shot at an NFL job.
Today, I will be focusing on the AFC, which holds many of the top rookies.
Who will make a good impression early in their NFL careers?
So here it is—the Top 15 Most Influential Rookies in the AFC this season.
Feel free to give me your thoughts in the comments section, or on twitter at—
15. Aaron Hernandez
At the University of Florda, Aaron Hernandez showed playmaking ability at the next level.
When he fell to the New England Patriots on day two of the draft, a bright future was ahead of him.
With a great shot of earning the starting TE job, Hernandez can do wonders for Tom Brady and the offense.
I think he's the best all-around tight end from the receiving end. His athleticism and his physicality should lead to quite an impact in his rookie year.
14. Emmanuel Sanders
Emmanuel Sanders will be one of the more surprising rookies this year for those who don't know him.
He enters a position in Pittsburgh, where he has a good chance at a starting spot.
The Steelers will be counting on the pass if they want to have success this season.
A combination of Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, and a rookie in Sanders would be great for the gold and black.
13. Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas was called the next Brandon Marshall by head coach Josh McDaniels.
Those are big shoes to fill, but I see Thomas having a decent rookie year.
Knowing McDaniels, I wouldn't be surprised to see this guy emerge as the number one target, especially if Eddie Royal continues to disappoint.
This kid has talentk, and he can succeed no matter the quarterback situation.
12. Ed Dickson
Ed Dickson is one half of the new Ravens tight end duo. He will have a shot at a lot of snaps, as the reigns look to be passed on from Todd Heap.
Dickson brings the explosiveness that Heap did earlier in his career. With a balanced offense becoming reality in Baltimore, Dickson will be a key player within the group.
11. Kyle Wilson
Many experts felt Kyle Wilson to the Jets was one of the best value picks in the first round.
And I tend to agree.
With two veteran cornerbacks in Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on his side, Wilson will find success as the nickel back in Rex Ryan's defense.
In his rookie season, I see a few sacks to his name, while also getting a few interceptions, as he locks down the second or third options on most teams.
10. Dexter McCluster
Dexter McCluster is one of my sleepers on this list.
He won't have the starting job, which will be held by Jamaal Charles, but since we are talking impact on the field, this kid could do a lot for a Chiefs offense that has struggled.
I could see him put in the backfield in a Wildcat format, or used a receiving threat in the slot as well.
9. Lamarr Houston
Lamarr Houston was a value pick for the Oakland Raiders in the second round.
His potential in Texas was undoubted, and he joins a defensive front that has dealt with quite a few injuries.
His athleticism as a defensive end makes him fit in with Oakland, a team that loves to have speed.
8. Sergio Kindle
Sergio Kindle was the first selection made by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round, and what a steal it was.
Kindle enters a situation where there isn't an opportunity to be a full-time starter, but he can still be very effective as a pass rusher.
His youth gives him an advantage on this defense, where he will be a great run-stopper, and he will be able to put constant pressure on the opposing quarterback.
7. Jordan Shipley
Heading into the draft, Jordan Shipley received a lot of praise and drew comparisons to Wes Welker.
Luckily, he was drafted into a great situation with Cincinnati. With veterans Chad Ochocinco and Antonio Bryant on the opposite sides, Shipley will be a great slot man for Carson Palmer.
6. Joe Haden
Joe Haden will have a solid rookie season under Eric Mangini's defense.
He will likely be the second option on the cornerback depth chart, but his speed gives him the edge against most receivers in the league.
Joe will probably have a few interceptions to his name this year.
5. Dennis Pitta
For those of you who don't know Dennis Pitta, he may be the biggest surprise on the Ravens offense.
Pitta is the most complete tight end, and has a similar style of play to a Dallas Clark.
Many expect Pitta to take most of the starting time over Todd Heap late in the season, as well as edging out rookie Ed Dickson for the job.
Opposing linebackers will have a difficult time covering this guy.
4. Ryan Mathews
The San Diego Chargers have set the expectations high for running back Ryan Mathews.
Mathews will be shouldering the load that LT left behind, and couldn't fulfill.
He has good speed, and his ability to break tackles may bring him to the top of the depth chart by seasons end.
3. Terrence Cody
Many doubted "Mount Cody" as he entered the NFL Draft.
However, since being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, he has given reasons for people to believe in his potential during 2010.
Teaming up with Haloti Ngata only makes Cody a bigger threat against the running game.
Cody needs to continue improving his stamina, but his main priority this season is to open the holes for Ray Lewis and company.
2. Eric Berry
I have been one of the many that have been impressed with Eric Berry through college football, and I believe he is the best talent in this years NFL Draft.
Berry comes to a Kansas City defense that is now run by defensive guru Romeo Crennel.
I do think he'll pick up a few interceptions (not as many as hoped), and being all over the field, as Troy Polamalu does week in and week out.
1. C.J. Spiller
There isn't much question as to why CJ Spiller will be the most influential rookie in the AFC.
He already becomes the number one threat on a Bills team that has questions almost everywhere else on the offensive side of the ball.
Don't forget his explosiveness in the kicking game, where he have seen him run back touchdowns time and time again in college.
Expect more of the same in his rookie year for Spiller.