NFL 2010 Season Preview: Top 15 Rookies Destined For Greatness

Daniel WolfSenior Writer IAugust 22, 2010

NFL 2010 Season Preview: Top 15 Rookies Destined For Greatness

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    CANTON, OH - AUGUST 8: Jordan Shipley #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals tries to break a tackle after catching a pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium on August
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The 2010 NFL draft class is no different from other rookie classes when it comes to predicting who will succeed and who will fail.

    Not an exact science by any means, but I attempt to predict who will be the stars of this draft class several years down the road.

    Without further delay, here are my top 15 predictions as to who will be an All-Pro and NFL star in a few seasons.

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15. Lamarr Houston, DE, Oakland Raiders

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    ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 12: Jon Kitna #3 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against Lamarr Houston #99 of the Oakland Raiders during the preseason game at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Im
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Houston had a dominating performance on the Raiders' defensive line in their preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys.

    He had two solo tackles, both of which were quarterback sacks.

    Houston was touted as a solid defensive lineman coming into the NFL, even though he was not a first round pick.

    If he can continue this type of play, Houston will make many quarterback heads roll and keep Raider Nation thoroughly entertained for many years to come.

14. Taylor Price, WR, New England Patriots

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    Price has not made much of an impact in the Patriots' first two preseason games since he has only caught one pass for seven yards, but he is in an offensive system that will groom him over the next year or two in order to be a possible starter down the road.

    With Randy Moss and Wes Welker the incumbents this season and questions as to if Moss will stay after this season since he is in the final year of his contract.

    Plus, Welker is miraculously recovering from his knee injury, but he too is not getting any younger and Price will have his time in a few.

13. Patrick Angerer, LB, Indianapolis Colts

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    In two games so far this preseason, Colts linebacker Angerer has made a huge statement that he deserves a starting spot on the Colts' defense in his rookie season.

    His two dominating performances include 14 total tackles, seven solo tackles, and two sacks.

    Plus, how can you not like a defensive player with a last name like Angerer?

12. Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints

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    Graham may be taking a back seat to starter Jeremy Shockey and he only has one catch for six yards this preseason through two games, but Graham could easily be the next former college basketball player who becomes a top tight end in the NFL after the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.

    Being picked by the Saints is a perfect place to groom the talented Graham, and he will feel no pressure to come in and start immediately and he can slowly learn the pro game from the bench.

    A wrench could be thrown into Graham's learning process since Shockey is injury prone.

11. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

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    DENVER - AUGUST 21:  Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions battles the blocking of offensive tackle Ryan Harris #74 of the Denver Broncos during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Suh has not made any major impact in the Lions' first two preseason games, but do not doubt that Lions fans will be screaming "Suuuuuuuhhhhhh!" for many years in the dome.

    Not since Warren Sapp came into the league has there been a defensive lineman as highly touted as Suh is. 

    Sapp turned out pretty good, and so will Suh.

10. Brandon Spikes, ILB, New England Patriots

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    FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 12: Brandon Spikes #55 and Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots react in the first quarter during the preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium on August 12, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Spikes dropped from being a first-round projection to a late second-round pick when the Patriots put his name on their draft card.

    Head Coach Bill Belichick will make something great out of Spikes, who will possibly start next to Jerod Mayo when the opening day of the 2010 season begins.

    In two games, this preseason Spikes has 11 total tackles and six of them were solo.

    Eight of those led the Patriots defense in the victory against the New Orleans Saints in week one of the preseason.

9. Kyle Wilson, CB, NY Jets

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    Wilson was a surprise pick by the Jets in the first round since they already had Derrelle Revis and acquired Antonio Cromartie in a trade with the San Diego Chargers this past offseason.

    This actually puts Wilson in a great position to learn the game as a backup and still get good reps in as the nickelback.

    He may only have three total tackles in his first two preseason games, but Wilson has the time to learn and that will hopefully put him over the top in a few years, and he will find himself playing opposite of Revis, too.

8. Taylor Mays, S, San Francisco 49ers

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 15: Taylor Mays #23 of the San Francisco 49ers runs against the Indianapolis Colts during the preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 15, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Mays fell hard out of the first round and then threw some choice words toward his former college coach, Pete Carroll, for passing on him multiple times, but he then landed in the perfect spot with a defensive-minded disciplinarian in Mike Singletary.

    Mays had a good, but not great, first preseason game of his pro career by netting three total tackles which were all solo and one of those tackles was for a loss.

    Mays has the physical presence and making to be the next great 49er safety after Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.

7. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 21:  Wide receiver Greg Jennings #85 of the Green Bay Packers makes a catch during the preseason game against Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on August 21, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Thomas is versatile enough to play both as a safety or as a cornerback in certain coverage formations and he has a chance to develop into a premier playmaker playing right behind Lofa Tatupu and Aaron Curry.

    He has not stood out just yet in his two preseason games, but that is was the preseason is for, to work out the kinks in the armor.

    Thomas has six total tackles, all of them solo, in his two games so far.

6. Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions

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    DENVER - AUGUST 21:  Jahvid Best #44 of the Detroit Lions rushes the ball as Ryan McBean #98 and Renaldo Hill #23 of the Denver Broncos make the stop during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 21, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The tou
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Best will be an explosive weapon and decoy that will be lined up all over the field in Detroit for many years to come.

    In two preseason games, so far he has 14 carries for 78 yards (5.5 average) and 3 catches for 19 yards.

    Not spectacular, but once the regular season starts, Best will be fully utilized throughout the entire game week in and week out.

5. Devin McCourty, CB, New England Patriots

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    McCourty couldn't have landed on a better team with a defensive-minded coach like Bill Belichick.

    In two preseason games so far, McCourty led the Patriots defense in tackles in their commanding victory over the Falcons.

    McCourty has eight tackles, five of them solo, and one pass defended this preseason.

4. Mike Iupati, G, San Francisco

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 02:  Mike Iupati #77 works out during the San Francisco 49ers training camp at their training complex on August 2, 2010 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    "There's no greater feeling than to be able to move a man from Point A to Point B against his will."

    That was a direct quote from 2010 Hall of Fame class inductee Russ Grimm from the induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

    This is exactly what Iupati brings to the Niners' offensive line and his powerful and aggressive play will be loved by the fans for a very long time.

3. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs

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    ATLANTA - AUGUST 13:  Eric Berry #29 of the Kansas City Chiefs against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on August 13, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    With the many comparisons that Berry has gotten to Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed, he has a huge hill to climb.

    With a players coach, Romeo Crennel, as his defensive coordinator in Kansas City, Berry should easily adapt to the NFL speed and game.

    In two preseason games, Berry has not made a huge impact, but he could also be saving his best for the regular season as well.

    He has six total tackles, with five of them solo, so far after two games.

2. Dennis Pitta, TE, Balitmore Ravens

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    Pitta really showed that he has a chip on his shoulder for dropping as far in the draft as he did and he brought his A-game with him to Washington in the Ravens' second preseason game.

    The Ravens thoroughly beat up the Redskins 23-3 behind Pitta's performance.

    He had four catches for 65 yards and is easily the front-runner to be the Ravens' starting tight end if Todd Heap cannot get healthy.

    Pitta has the look and makings to be the next Dallas Clark-like player at tight end for quarterback Joe Flacco.

1. Jordan Shipley, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Just like Pitta may be the next Dallas Clark, Shipley could be the next Wes Welker.

    Putting aside the dynamic duo of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, Shipley could easily become quarterback Carson Palmer's newest and most favorite target of the 2010 season taking over the possession receiver role that was lost when T.J. Houshmandzadeh left for Seattle.

    Shipley has a great burst of speed when the ball is snapped which allows him to get into the open lanes inside of the defense.

    In the Bengals' three preseason games, Shipley has caught eight passes for 74 yards and he has returned punts for an average of 21 yards per return, which is outstanding.

    The NFL and all of its defensive coordinators need to watch out for Shipley because he could be the biggest star of the entire 2010 draft class very, very soon.

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