NFL: All-Rookie Offensive Depth Chart
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Every year experts, pundits and fans attempt to predict which NFL rookie will become the "next big thing." Who will excel, who will struggle and who will flop.
Comparison to legends and expectations are rampant. Some are reasonable in their conception, some take a while to come true and some are just down-right ridiculous.
Words like "Peyton-esque," "Montana-like" and "Dickerson-ish" are flung about like a billion audio Frisbees—and they're all useless. The only thing that matters is what happens on the field.
This caused me to think; If I were forced to start an NFL team choosing only rookies, what would my roster look like?
In this first installment, I'll be setting what I feel is the best offensive depth chart comprised of nothing but rookies.
You are bound to agree with some of my picks and think I'm crazy for others. Either way, I hope you enjoy what follows.
Winning starts up front, so I will too...
Left Tackle: Trent Williams and Russel Okung
Trent Williams is sure to be fixture on the Redskins for a decade or more.
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Trent Williams has suffered some minor injuries, but has performed pretty well at one of the most difficult positions in the NFL.
The fourth overall pick in the draft has been a dramatic upgrade for the Washington Redskins this year. Assuming injuries don't become a recurring problem, Williams should have a solid NFL career.
Sixth overall pick, Russell Okung would have been my first choice if not for only playing in 10 games due to injuries.
Okung possesses great technique and understanding of the game and his position. If the injury bug doesn't bite him, he will be a fine replacement for legend Walter Jones.
Right Tackle: Anthony Davis and Brian Bulaga
Anthony Davis was a great pick by the 49ers and is sure to be a great pro.
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Anthony Davis came to San Francisco with the 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft. He was immediately moved to the right side and shot up the depth chart to become the starter.
Brian Bulaga was tried at left tackle, but simply wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility. Once he was moved to the right side, he became the starter and never looked back.
Guards-Mike Iupati and John Jerry
Mike Iupati took the starting LG spot in San Francisco right away and hasn't looked back.
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Mike Iupati is quickly becoming the toast of the town in San Francisco. His outstanding run blocking skills and nasty attitude have made him a fan favorite.
I'm sure Frank Gore thanks the 49er organization for drafting such a solid offensive lineman at number 17 overall.
John Jerry didn't really light up the league, but making the starting lineup is a great accomplishment for a rookie.
The fact is, not a lot of rookie guards even played, much less started. Therefore, Jerry makes this list almost by default.
Steelers coaches have called Maurkice Pouncy "The most NFL ready rookie center we've ever seen."
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With the 18th overall pick the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Maukice Pouncey. This former Florida Gator was announced as the starter within days of training camp beginning.
In the tradition of Mike Webster and Dermonti Dawson, Pouncey is well on his way to being a Steeler legend assuming his growth trend continues.
Pouncey made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, which rarely happens for an offensive lineman—especially a center.
Wide Receivers: Jordan Shipley, Dez Bryant, Mike Williams And Jacoby Ford
Jordan Shipley is proving to be a great possesion receiver at the NFL level.
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Jordan Shipley isn't flashy, mouthy or even outspoken. What is he? A reliable, intelligent young receiver that is willing and able to do what his team asks of him.
Dez Bryant is probably the most gifted athlete with the best hands of this bunch. If not for a broken foot, Bryant would have probably been in the Pro Bowl.
Mike Williams (the other Mike Williams) came to a young Buccaneers team and asserted himself as a legitimate NFL receiver with heart and the desire to be great.
Jacoby Ford is a game changer. Whether returning opening kickoffs for touchdowns, winning the battle for a jump ball over bigger defensive backs or taking and end-around to the house. Ford is small in stature, but big on talent.
Tight Ends: Tony Moeaki, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez
Tony Moeaki is going to be a nice replacement for the future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez
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Tony Moeaki is a complete player. He does everything you expect from your tight end, and more. A solid blocker, good route runner, great hands and ridiculous mid-air body control. This kid is for real.
Rob Gronkowski is by far the best blocker of this group, but his receiving skills are pretty darn good too. Aside from some injury concerns, Gronkowski is exactly what a tight end is supposed to be—balanced, tough and productive.
Aaron Hernandez may be the best open field runner in this crew. He looks like a wide receiver with the ball in his hands in space. Being elusive and tough to tackle make Hernandez a force to deal with. The only thing that may hold him up is having to compete with Gronkowski for touches as they are both mere cogs in the "Patriot machine."
Running Backs: LeGarrette Blount, Chris Ivory And Jahvid Best
After a checkered past at Oregon and Tennessee, LeGarrette Blount has found a home in Tampa Bay.
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LeGarrett Blount had his troubles, both at the University of Oregon and with the Tennessee Titans. However, he put it all aside for his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and has become a genuine threat for defenses to confront.
Undrafted Chris Ivory virtually saved the Saints' season when Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush both went down with injury. Ivory provided a nice stop-gap, kept the ground attack viable and helped the Saints hold serve until their regular starters came back.
Jahvid Best is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. However, being drafted by the Lions was a double edged sword. Being on a rebuilding team means more carries, but less production. Once the Lions get their offensive line solidified and a quarterback that can stay healthy, they have a back that make plays in the future.
Quarterbacks: Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Jimmy Clausen
Sam Bradford proved he has "it." Whatever "it" is.
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There was a lot of scrutiny on first overall pick Sam Bradford, but the kid from Oklahoma proved all the naysayers wrong. Being on the least talented team the league didn't worry Bradford one bit. He went out, did his job and nearly took the Rams to a division title.
Colt McCoy slipped into the third round after becoming the winningest quarterback in NCAA history for the Longhorns of Texas. After replacing veteran Jake DelHomme, McCoy suffered a concussion only to return and make the Browns a better team with him than without.
Jimmy Clausen came from Notre Dame with a lot of hype, but couldn't manage to unseat Matt Moore as Carolina's starter. Once he did play, he struggled early but improved with time. If his knowledge ever catches up to the cannon attached to his right shoulder, this kid could be great.
Joe Webb is a "Michael Vick" type player, but not ready to shine just yet.
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Joe Webb played very well in Minnesota's last two games, earning the respect of his teammates and "experts" alike.
Emmanuel Sanders is a return ace that seems to be on the road to becoming a great receiver some day.
Golden Tate was drafted from Notre Dame a bit higher than most thought he deserved, but Seahawk fans can attest to the fact that this kid has great hands and will have a solid career in the NFL.
Roger Saffold was installed as the starting left tackle for the resurgent St. Louis Rams almost immediately. He struggled at times and had his problems, but by all accounts he has what it takes and will be great some day soon.
Chris Ivory is a true "rags to riches" story. From undrafted to starter.
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Rookies come and go. Some have impact right away, some take time to develop and some never seem to "get it" and become busts.
For the most part, the players on this list have made the transition from college to the NFL relatively successfully.
Only time will tell if these talented young players can continue to grow, or if they will suffer the dreaded "sophomore slump" and drop off the map—and their team's depth chart.
Whatever the case, all of these players have come into the league and done their job and helped their respective teams.
I'll be watching them closely to see which category the fall into in the seasons to come.
So, how did I do? Who did I miss? Who doesn't deserve to be on this list? Let me hear you in the comments.