The 2011 NFL season is just around the corner, (fingers crossed) we hope, and with that comes a season full of surprises, letdowns, and meltdowns. This year's rookie class looks to have some serious talent, and could play an important role in bolstering its team's number of wins, playoff push, or perhaps the golden ticket of Super Bowl.
All NFL fans hope, and yes, sometimes pray, that their team took the right guy in the first round because most draft classes are based on how that team's No. 1 pick did overall. To get the pick wrong could set the franchise back, especially in the case of a quarterback choice.
This year's first round was dominated by two major themes: One, the number of defensive players chosen and two, the four quarterbacks drafted. From the 254 players selected only one will be named Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Since 2001, Rookie's of the Year have gone as follows: On offense there have been two wide receivers, four quarterbacks, and four running backs. The lowest drafted rookie of the year was in 2003 when pick No. 54 by the Arizona Cardinals, Anquan Boldin, was tabbed as ROY.
There have been yhree players selected from the second round that have gone on to garner the ROY: 2001: Anthony Thomas, RB, No. 38 overall by the Bears, 2002: Clinton Portis, No. 51 to the Denver Broncos, and finally in 2003, Boldin. From 2004 to 2010, all Offensive ROY's have been round one draft choices.
On defense, eight LB's have been chosen as Defensive Rookie's of the Year, one DE, and one DT. The lowest drafted player chosen as ROY was pick 39 in 2001, LB, Kendrell Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The only other second round player to garner DROY was pick 33, DeMeco Ryans of the Houston Texans in 2006. Yes, the same year Mario Williams went No. 1 overall.
So, what does that tell us about this rookie class. Well, if there is anything called trends, we would have to believe that this year's rookie's of the year will come out of the first round. For expedient purposes, five players were chosen from the offense, and five from defense.
Offense: If you are into conspiracies, voodoo, or are superstitious, it is safe to say that this year's offensive rookie of the year will NOT be a QB. Since 2004, a quarterback has won the offensive ROY every other year, and since Bradford put his fingerprints all over that trophy last year, we could go ahead and say that neither Newton, Gabbert, Locker or Ponder will win ROY.
The other two positions to win OROY have been WR's and RB's. With only one RB taken, Mark Ingram by the Saints, he would be a lock if it is a RB. The WR's drafted in round one were: A.J. Green (Cincinnati), Julio Jones (Atlanta), and Jonathan Baldwin (Chiefs).
Of the four players mentioned above, my money is on Jones because he has the best quarterback and surrounding teammates.
Convention says that this year's ROY should come from the first round, but the second round may wind up delivering that trophy. Some notables taken in round two are: Ryan Williams, RB, Arizona. Mikel LeShoure, RB, Detroit, Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati, and Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Fransisco.
I think it is doubtful Kaepernick will get any significant playing time, but Dalton could wind up as the starter; however, and even with Green, there are too many parts missing right now in Cincinnati.
LeShoure will start in Detroit because Best was a poor choice last year, and Smith is not working out. For Williams, he will also be the starter in Arizona, but unless they get a decent FA QB, or one of their own come around, Williams will be smothered.
Now for the crazy, you're out of your mind pick. This year's Offensive ROY is: Christian Ponder. This is almost a certainty because of the following information. The Minnesota Vikings have had the OROY every other year since 2007: Adrian Peterson in 2007, and Percy Harvin in 2009.
This year Minnesota selected Christian Ponder at pick No. 12. Each player has one of their names that starts with a P: Peterson, Percy, and Ponder; therefore, it makes perfect sense to have Ponder win the coveted rookie award. Also, within the last decade, the No. 12 pick has had more Rookie of the Year representatives than any other number in round 1.
As a Minnesota fan, I do not want to jinx the young man, but consider this alternative argument to those who have lambasted, slammed, or balked at the Vikings first round selection. Ponder comes from an NFL style offense.
He has Peterson, Harvin, (possibly) Rice, Shiancoe, and now Rudolph as his surrounding cast. The offensive line is solid enough, and if he is able to pick up the offense quickly, he could really surprise many who criticized the Vikings. Let the comments begin.
Okay, let's look at DROY: Again, this is somewhat of a strange year because eight of the last ten DROY's have been LB's and since Von Miller (like Ingram) was the only player from his position drafted, the odds on favorite would be Miller, but since there were eight DE's and four DT's drafted in the first round, there are better odds this year's ROY will come from the D Line.
Also, and not to disregard a DB's impact, there hasn't been a DB ROY since Charles Woodson in 1998. Yes, Patrick Peterson could be that guy this year. But remember, anything Peterson does on special teams should not be considered in the criteria as DOY because his contribution would be offensive rather than defensive, unless of course, he starts blocking kicks and punts.
Generally, the Defensive ROY is a player who just blows up everything. He is the type of guy that when you watch the game tape, is everywhere, or making great plays. Also, defensively, the criteria is much different than the offensive rookie of the year.
For OROY's they need a surrounding cast of support players, especially the quarterback, but on defense an individual can stand out even if a defense is suspect. Brian Cushing is a great example of a DROY being on a suspect defense.
Face value, the guy with the most going for him is Nick Fairley in Detroit. Then there is Wilkerson (Jets) or Heyward (Steelers), who have a great supporting cast, but I am going to go in a different direction.
There are four guys who have the right ingredients to be DROY: Miller (Broncos), Dareus (Bills), Watt (Texans), and Quinn (Rams). I know I am not going to make everyone happy, but this is how I see it. Fairley will be overlooked by Suh, and Wilkerson and Heyward have too many other parts around them to stand out. Again, DROY is about standing out.
Von Miller: Consensus seems to believe that Miller will win the DROY, and he just might. He is a dynamic player who was worthy of the 2nd pick, but the Broncos defense is in transition and there are many players being added to the new scheme. Miller is going to have to scream (that's code for really stand out) on the video to garner DROY.
Marcell Dareus: the man can be disruptive ala Andoma.. eh, forget about it, Suh, and he has a few players on defense who could assist his playmaking ability, but his play is not as "sexy" if you will, as Suh
J.J. Watt: a motor that never stops, and with Cushing and Williams attracting so much attention, he could really blossom; however, it would be hard to imagine another Texan winning DROY since Cushing and Ryans have already done so in the past.
Finally, Robert Quinn: Quinn is the most intriguing because the Rams defense right now seems to be a hodge-podge of blue collar workers. Quinn will have the opportunity to stand out amongst this group and the Rams defense will be much improved.
So, who will win this year's DROY? Well, as you can see, after exhaustive and detailed research, this year's DROY is: Robert Quinn. That determination was gathered via a scientific algorithm whereby I added up each of the draft numbers for which the last ten defenders were chosen. It added up to 146. When you divide that by 10 (last ten drafts) you get 14.6.
Now, unless Mike Pouncey converts to D Line, Robert Quinn was the 14th overall selection. You see, I told you, it's all about science. Actually, it's basically a roll of the dice at this point, both offensively and defensively.
For a comprehensive look at Rookie of the Year awards, visit: Hickok Sports at http://www.hickoksports.com/history/nflroy.shtml. I hope you enjoyed the read.