NFL Impact: Ten Rookies You May Not Know
Every year when the NFL holds their draft, the talking heads on television spend most of their energy discussing the first round, especially the first few selections. This energy wanes to the point where the talking heads are telling stories about their own families as the event winds down.
Many of the analysts are only familiar with the first rounders, or what their assistants tell them. There are still many more players who go drafted and undrafted that have significant impact on the league.
Most of this year's focus has been on St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, the first overall selection of the 2010 Draft. Bradford has played well this year, as expected for a player who may earn $86 million over six seasons.
Here is a list of players who make peanuts in comparison, but are having just as much impact on the NFL as Bradford is right now.
Anthony Armstrong, Wide Receiver, Washington Redskins
Armstrong gets so much respect that major sites don't even provide a link for him, like FOX Sports.
Maybe it is because he is a 26-year old rookie coming out of the Intense Football League?
Still, he has been all over the field for Washington. His 17 catches are the ninth most of any rookie, and his 21.6 yards per catch is far and away the best by any rookie with five receptions or more.
He also is a significant contributor covering kicks on special teams.
Cody Grimm, Free Safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The son of Redskins' Hall of Famer Russ Grimm has been the biggest surprise in Tampa Bay this year.
Not only is the seventh round pick starting, but he has picked off two balls and returned one for a score.
He is also first among all rookie free safeties with 37 tackles, and he has defended four passes and forced a fumble.
While Bucs fans might say he has shades of John Lynch, Grimm has already done something Lynch never did in his illustrious career: score a touchdown.
Alterraun Verner, Cornerback, Tennesee Titans
Everyone outside of Tennessee and UCLA might be saying "Who?", but this rookie has been solid since having to step in because of injuries to other players.
The fourth round pick didn't record a single statistic his first two weeks, but now he has two interceptions, 30 tackles and eight passes defended in just six games.
While teams stay away from his bookmark, Cortland Finnegan, they haven't had a whole bunch of success against this rookie.
He also shows a willingness to tackle, racking up 11 in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos.
Former starter Jason McCourtey is almost ready to return. He had 17 tackles and two picks in the two games he played before going down. When he is ready, Verner probably will head to extra defensive back duties.
Still, Tennessee has a nice luxury of young cornerbacks for its future ahead.
Tony Moeaki, Tight End, Kansas City Chiefs
When the Chiefs grabbed Moeaki in the third round, they weren't thinking he would be a replacement for future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez, who departed to Atlanta last year.
In fact they don't even list him on top of the depth chart at his position.
Yet he has grabbed 24 balls so far, the second most for rookie tight ends. He also has scored twice, one that came off an amazing one handed catch that was a top highlight of this season.
Even though the Chiefs struggle throwing the ball, he has excelled. Moeaki has also blocked well for the NFL's top ranked running game.
Nate Allen, Free Safety, Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles hoped for production from Allen this year after drafting him in the second round. He has formed a good safety duo with Quintin Mikell.
Allen is second amongst all rookies with three interceptions, while Mikell leads all strong safeties in passes defended.
Allen has pitched in 31 tackles and a sack as well.
Philadelphia was sad to see Brian Dawkins leave town a few years ago, but now they have to be happy Allen is on their team.
Chris Ivory, Running Back, New Orleans Saints
Ivory is just eight yards behind San Diego's Ryan Mathews for the rookie rushing lead this year. Mathews was drafted in the first round to do this, but the Saints quite frankly lucked into Ivory.
He went undrafted, coming from Tiffin College, the first player to get to the NFL from there. He is listed as the fourth string halfback. The problem for New Orleans is that their top three halfbacks are injured, yet Ivory doesn't have the team missing them much.
He averages over five yards a carry, yet he needs to work on holding onto the ball better because he has three fumbles in the six games he has played.
Though he might not get many carries when Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush return in a few weeks, no one can dismiss the positive impact he has had in only four games of ten or more carries.
The 158 yards he had on 15 carries against Tampa Bay is only 48 yards behind the 206 George Rogers had when he set the team record in 1983.
Brandon Deadrick, Defensive End, New England Patriots
This seventh round pick had a tough senior year in college. He was shot in the forearm and had one sack all year.
He has surpassed that already with two, which is tied with three others are the third most by a rookie this year.
He is part of a rotation the Pats use on defense, and he mostly is a pass rusher. He has just eight tackles, but that is probably more than anyone expected from him coming into training camp.
Frank Zombo, Linebacker, Green Bay Packers
This undrafted linebacker has been forced into action because of injuries.
He plays the strong side, but he has pitched in 19 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.
Marc Mariani, Wide Receiver, Tennessee Titans
This former college walk-on was drafted in the seventh round.
He is second among all rookies with 26 kickoff returns.
He took one 98 yards for a score, the longest by a rookie this year.
His 26.6 yards per kickoff return average is fourth best amongst all rookies, and he has also returned 13 punts for 142 yards.
Keiland Williams, Running Back, Washington Redskins
If someone were to ask who is second in receptions amongst rookie running back, few would know it is the undrafted Williams with 14.
People also tend to forget that not only did he beat out former Pro Bowlers Larry Johnson and Willie Parker for a roster spot, but also that he was cut by the Redskins after Week 3 and brought back before Week 5.
Though he only has ten carries, he did score his first touchdown off of six carries for 24 yards while subbing for injured starter Ryan Torain last week.
Not bad for a kid who sat on the bench most of his collegiate career at LSU, starting in just a few games.