Top 10 Rookies in the AFC Who May Disappoint in 2010
Every Draft class comes into the league with high expectations, and every draft class has its fair share of guys that fall short of the high expectations put on them as rookies.
The 2010 class in the AFC has some guys who may add to that list of disappointments, some by their own physical shortcomings, and others because of the team circumstances they find themselves in.
Whatever the reason, here are the ten guys that may disappoint fans and franchises alike in 2010.
10. Tim Tebow: QB, Denver Broncos
Let’s get the big orange and blue elephant in the room out of the way early. Tim Tebow is going to disappoint a lot of people this season...not because he can’t play, but because he won’t play that much in his rookie campaign.
Tebow wants to play quarterback in the NFL and Josh McDaniel will eventually give him a chance to do just that, but for the time being Kyle Orton will be under center.
I happen to believe that Tim Tebow is going to be a solid NFL player in the future, but in terms of his 2010 production it will be far less than some expect as he grows into a more permanent role in the offense in Denver.
Look to see Tebow used much the same way Urban Meyer used him in the early going of his time at Florida backing up Chris Leek.
9. Dexter McCluster: RB/WR, Kansas City Chiefs
McCluster had a college career that steadily climbed, but his bottle rocket may have finally fizzled out at its height.
At 5’8” and 165 lbs, McCluster is all but imposing physically, and his speed (4.4 at his best) is good but certainly not great for a guy who is expected to be a homerun threat in the Chiefs' offense.
While other players of small stature have been successful on the NFL level McCluster neither has the mass nor the power of a Maurice Jones-Drew, and his thin frame has produced some major injury concerns in the past.
He will be used as a Darren Sproles-type running back, and should see some action as a pass catching option out of the slot, but McCluster is more likely to stand out on special teams than he is as a consistent offensive threat on the NFL level.
8. TJ Ward: S, Cleveland Browns
Ward is a physical player, and he had his fair share of injury issues while at Oregon.
Overall, his ball skills are questionable, as can be seen by his low number of interceptions.
While he can lay the hit that makes everyone sit up and pay attention, his open field tackling ability is average at best.
Many scouts thought Ward was more of a late third to early fifth-round pick, but instead the Browns took him ahead of other safeties like Taylor Mays/USC, Morgan Burnett/GT, and Major Wright/Florida.
Browns fans and management may all find this pick to be the biggest disappointment of the draft.
7. Myron Rolle: S, Tennessee Titans
The Rhodes Scholar from Florida State is a smart, hard-working player with the athleticism and fluid movements of a corner, minus the speed.
Rolle is 6’2” and 215 lbs and has the ability to play either safety position. However, Rolle is not the big hitter you want to see at strong safety.
While he is solid in all aspects of the game, he does not have that something special to hang his hat on after coming back from a full year away from the game.
With his intelligence and work ethic, the transition to the faster pro game is not beyond his reach, but it is going to take some time for him to regain the physical and intuitive aspects of a game that will suddenly be light years faster than he was used to in college.
The 2010 season will be another educational experience for Rolle as he learns the complexities and speed of the NFL game. Look to see him make more of an impact in 2011.
6. Kareem Jackson: CB, Houston Texans
With Kyle Wilson still on the board, this pick was curious, to say the least.
Jackson was slotted to be a second-round pick at best because of his stiff hips, average speed, and below average hands.
His stiff hips really hurt him in changing direction, and coming in and out of breaks. This makes him susceptible to being beaten by the smaller, quicker wide receivers in the NFL.
His lack of high-end speed hurts him in deep pursuit against the bigger receivers in the league. Playing in a division against the Colts and Titans twice a season is going to be no small task for Jackson.
While he played mostly bump and run coverage at Alabama, Jackson seems better-suited for a zone-coverage scheme. His anticipation and ability to read the quarterback, combined with his ability to locate the ball quickly once in the air, fit the zone much more for a guy who has to use his nature to overcome his physical shortcomings.
The expectation to fill the shoes of the departed Dunta Robinson is going to be no small task for Jackson, who does not possess the physical tools that Robinson had coming into the league.
5. Brandon Spikes: LB, New England Patriots
Spikes was a force at linebacker for the Florida Gators, but he had enough baggage physically and mentally to drop him into the second round of the draft.
His eye-gouging incident against Georgia was the beginning of an awful downward spiral for the once highly regarded NFL prospect.
After handling a light punishment for his actions, Spikes showed little remorse for what he had done and showed a mentality in interviews with scouts and coaches that worried enough teams to drop him off their draft boards.
When he ran 40 times in the five second range, those concerns only escalated to the point that he dropped from a high first-round pick to a mid-second rounder.
His lack of maturity combined with stiff hips that forced him to take poor angles to the ball and to look somewhat awkward in zone coverage verses the pass, will be more than a small hurdle for him to overcome in Bill Belichick’s defense.
4. Terrence Cody: DT, Baltimore Ravens
Mount Cody is famous for his nearly 400-pound frame, but that frame will either be his biggest asset or his demise at the next level.
Cody has thick, strong legs, a wide base, and uses his hands extremely well to separate from blockers and stop the run. The problem is that he tends to lose stamina the longer the game progresses.
While his weight makes him a force to be reckoned with in the middle, he lacks the leverage and speed to contend with double teams on the next level. His pass rushing abilities suffer as a result, which will make him a two down player in the NFL.
There have been reports that he has dropped a considerable amount of weight over the off-season, but he has done similar things in the past in order to stay on the team at Alabama. Cody will have to show the consistency he lacked at Alabama and keep the weight off for longer than a few months.
3. Carlos Dunlap: DE, Cincinnati Bengals
Dunlap might be the most physically imposing player in this year’s draft class.
At 6’6” and 290 lbs, Dunlap was called “Baby Freak,” drawing comparisons to Javon Kearse, who was known as "The Freak" during his time at Florida.
The difference between Kearse and Dunlap, however, is a motor that won’t quit. Kearse was known for relentlessness that Dunlap has never shown in his play.
Dunlap shows flashes of explosiveness that are overshadowed by the majority of times that he comes off the ball slow, often the last defensive linemen off the line post snap.
The difference between Dunlap at full effort and when he takes a play off is not only his lethargy off the line, but also how high he comes off the ball. With his size and weight, he becomes a massive target for skilled offensive tackles on the NFL level.
Dunlap cannot afford to take plays off at the NFL level where he got away with it in college. These motivational issues that affect his level of effort from play to play will be the difference between him fulfilling his potential or being the biggest bust in the 2010 draft class.
2. Sergio Kindle: LB, Baltimore Ravens
Kindle was an explosive player at Texas, but his injury concerns pushed him into the second round and may be the reason he disappoints a lot of Ravens fans.
Kindle had four procedures done on his knee, and tends to get banged up a lot.
His tendency to be hurt comes from his aggressive all-be-it limited style of play. He is best suited as an outside linebacker, and the Ravens will have him start out backing up Jarrett Johnson at outside linebacker.
Kindle is pretty limited in his pass-rushing repertoire, using the bull and speed rush techniques exclusively as his means to get past blockers.
While these techniques worked well against running backs and inferior linemen on the college level, Kindle found himself stonewalled by the upper tier offensive linemen, who could not be run over.
Kindle will need time to either develop his pass rushing technique or fill out his long frame that has plenty of room to develop.
While Kindle has the natural physical tools to play the game, it is going to take him some time for him to learn to shed blockers and better support the run.
At this point he is going to get that time playing behind Jarrett Johnson and Terrell Suggs.
1. CJ Spiller: RB, Buffalo Bills
While Spiller may have been one of the most versatile runners in all of college football last year, this isn’t college anymore, and the Buffalo Bills certainly aren’t capable of running the football the way he is used to.
The Bills struggled to run the ball in 2009 behind an offensive line decimated by injuries.
Whether the line comes back healthy or not this season, the loss of Terrell Owens and a lack of passing game combined with a little improved line will force Spiller to have to do more than one man can do.
Spiller was great at making something out of nothing at Clemson, but he cannot be expected to do it on every play for a team that will finish last in the AFC East this season.