2011 NFL Draft Results: Predicting 7 Players Who Could Be Rookie Pro Bowlers
The 2011 NFL Draft came and went and teams are hoping that their choices will end up in the 2012 Pro Bowl. NFL rookies generally struggle to adjust to the professional game. Size, speed and strength are entirely different in the NFL than the NCAA.
Generally, quarterbacks have the toughest time adjusting to life in the NFL. Learning new offenses at a new level is difficult. Quarterbacks are responsible for knowing more about the offense than any other player.
As such, there are no quarterbacks on this list. Linemen generally have the best shot of success during their rookie seasons. There are also a few special players from this draft class who will have the opportunity to show their skills on their respective teams.
These players all have a shot at making the Pro Bowl their rookie season.
Patrick Peterson (CB Arizona Cardinals)
Before the draft, Peterson was widely regarded as the best talent in the draft. With the Arizona Cardinals, he will pair with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to guard opposing wide receivers.
Rodgers-Cromartie will likely take pressure off Peterson early on and be a resource on how to adjust to the NFL.
Peterson has landed in a great situation in Arizona and if he is as talented as people believe, he will find himself in the Pro Bowl come winter.
Anthony Castonzo (OT Indianapolis Colts)
Anthony Castonzo fell to the Indianapolis Colts at pick No. 22. Castonzo was a dominant offensive tackle at Boston College.
Although the Colts' offensive line struggled last season, it has been very good historically. Peyton Manning has good pocket awareness and tends to avoid sacks other quarterbacks take.
Manning and the Colts' veteran lineman will allow Castonzo to take his time in adjusting to the pro game. By midseason, Castonzo will know the system well enough and have enough confidence to let his natural ability take over and start mauling defensive linemen.
Prince Amukamara (CB New York Giants)
Fans did not expect the New York Giants to pick a cornerback with a first-round pick. The front office did not expect top-10 talent Prince Amukamara to fall to them at No. 19.
Amukamara will play along side a number of competent NFL starters including Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas and Aaron Ross. The Giants also have a defensive line that will create pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Amukamara won't have to cover the opponent's best receiver until he proves himself early in the season. The Giants' pass rush will ensure he doesn't have to cover too long, and he will have the opportunity to pick off opponents' desperate throws.
Amukamara has a realistic shot of making the Pro Bowl his rookie season.
Marcell Dareus (DT Buffalo Bills)
Marcell Dareus was another top talent in the draft. He comes in with more talent than most defensive tackles already in the league.
The Bills are transitioning to a 3-4 defense and Dareus will play the nose. His talent will allow him to take up multiple blockers.
Historically, linemen have an easier adjustment to the NFL than skill position players. So while players like Cam Newton will likely need time to acclimate themselves to the NFL game, Dareus can come in and make an immediate impact.
Von Miller (OLB Denver Broncos)
Von Miller did not win the best dressed award at the 2011 NFL Draft, but he was the most talented defensive player in the draft.
Miller has the speed and strength to immediately compete with NFL players. D.J. Williams is already a successful OLB for Denver. He will control one half of the field. Teams will test Miller's side of the field early and often, and his talent will overcome.
Miller could find himself in the 2012 Pro Bowl.
Jonathan Baldwin (WR Kansas City Chiefs)
Anyone else see Calvin Johnson when they watch Jonathan Baldwin play wide receiver for Pittsburgh?
Baldwin came into the draft without too many people knowing his name, but after watching some of his tape, the argument can be made he has as much potential as the top receivers in this draft, including A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
Dwyane Bowe made an enormous impact during his rookie season for Kansas City and was not as highly touted as Baldwin during his rookie season. Bowe will take coverage away from Baldwin and QB Matt Cassell, who has experience throwing to jump ball receivers (Bowe and Randy Moss) will find Baldwin early and often.
Receivers often struggle to make the Pro Bowl, but of the prospects taken in the 2011 draft, Baldwin has the best shot of making the Pro Bowl.
Tyron Smith (OT Dallas Cowboys)
Tyron Smith will have the opportunity to make an impact in the 2011-2012 season. Offensive linemen often have an easier time adjusting to NFL game play.
Smith will play for a potent offense that will be one of the better NFC teams this season. Tony Romo knows how to avoid some pass rushers and the offensive line comprises veterans who have been down the road.
While these veterans have lost a step, they have brains for Smith to pick and he will have the opportunity to learn the tricks of the game early so as to have a shot at making the 2012 Pro Bowl.