2011 NFL Draft: Predicting the 2011 NFL All-Rookie Team

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterMay 6, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Predicting the 2011 NFL All-Rookie Team

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    With the 2011 NFL Draft in the books we can finally start looking ahead to the 2011 season.

    Part of the predictions and analysis you will see coming from us surrounds the debate of which rookies will do the best, and who will do so the fastest?

    NFL teams are betting millions of dollars that their draft picks will be able to step in and play major roles early on. Which players are we willing to bet on?

    Here's a super-early look at which players we're betting on for the 2011 NFL All-Rookie Team.

Quarterback

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    Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

    Andy Dalton walks in to a very good situation in Cincinnati, where we project he will be a Week 1 starter and establish himself as the best from the 2011 draft class in year one.

    In Cincinnati Dalton has a strong running game in place, as long as Cedric Benson is re-signed. The Bengals also have a very good offensive line that will be able to protect the rookie signal caller.

    When Dalton drops back to pass he will find tight end Jermaine Gresham, who led all rookie tight ends in catches last year, opening up the seam routes with his excellent combination of size and speed. Split out wide Dalton will have Jordan Shipley, Andre Caldwell and 2011 first-rounder A.J. Green at his disposal.

Running Backs

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    DanielThomas, Miami Dolphins; Shane Vereen, New England Patriots

    With our two picks for All-Rookie running backs we chose power backs who will be in situations where they can see a majority of the carries as rookies.

    Players like Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams and Mikel Leshoure ranked higher on our player ratings but are all in situations where they are sharing the ball with at least one established runner ahead of them. 

    Thomas will be the man in Miami, where both Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown are free agents. Should even one of them be brought back it will be in a complementary role to Thomas.

    In New England there is a chance Vereen will share carries with Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead, but both Ridley and Woodhead and situational players. Vereen has the body and skills to be an every-down back in the Patriots wide-open offense.

Wide Receivers and Tight End

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    Wide Receivers A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals; Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

    It would be rare for the two highest drafted players to fill out the All-Rookie roster at wide receiver, but we believe in A.J. Green and Julio Jones ability to acclimate to the NFL in a hurry.

    A.J. Green will be working with either Carson Palmer, who has asked to be traded, or rookie Andy Dalton in his first season. We like both pairings.

    Dalton is not a deep ball passer and will look to use Green on quick slants and digs, where Green excels with run after catch ability.

    Julio Jones steps in to an ideal situation with a Pro Bowl quarterback in Matt Ryan. The Atlanta offense is built to utilize his talents, and established stars Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will keep defenses from focusing too much on Jones.

    Tight End Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

    The addition of Kyle Rudolph in Minnesota will be met with welcome arms. 

    Rudolph brings an athletic presence as a move tight end. Whether it is rookie Christian Ponder or a veteran feeding him the ball, Rudolph will find favorable match-ups on the inside with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin drawing safety help at wide receiver.

Offensive Line

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    Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts; Gabe Carimi, Chicago Bears; Mike Pouncey, Miami Dolphins; Danny Watkins, Philadelphia Eagles; Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys

    All five of our offensive line selections will be penciled in as day-one starters are key positions in their new cities.

    Anthony Castonzo and Gabe Carimi will be asked to protect the blindside of playoff winning, Pro Bowl quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler, respectively.

    Danny Watkins will be stepping in at right guard or right tackle, powering an Eagles offense that dominates the run game.

    Mike Pouncey is locked in as the Dolphins center, where he will line up between one of the best offensive tackle duos in the NFL. 

    And Tyron Smith is being asked to anchor the right side of the Cowboys offensive line, a unit with four Pro Bowl-caliber players already in place.

Defensive Line

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    Cam Jordan, New Orleans Saints; Nick Fairley, Detroit Lions; Marvin Austin, New York Giants; Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans

    It's a bit surprising that we have chosen three defensive tackles and just one defensive end from a class loaded with talent at defensive line.

    Cam Jordan will round-out a defensive line in New Orleans that will be very productive, and more importantly on a team that is expected to make a deep playoff run. Jordan has the talent to lead this team in sacks.

    The choice of three defensive tackles is based in part on the situation each player finds himself in.

    Nick Fairley will play next to an All-Pro defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, and should see plenty of one-on-one match-ups.

    Marvin Austin can step in to a very talented Giants defensive line and fill a need for a three-technique defensive tackle. He should see a large amount of playing time as a rookie, and like Fairley will not receive much attention from blockers due to the talent around him.

    Jurrell Casey is our sleeper. We are in love with his potential as a one-technique, run-stuffer in the Titans scheme.

Linebackers

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    Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers; Von Miller, Denver Broncos; Colin McCarthy, Tennessee Titans; Justin Houston, Kansas City Chiefs

    Two pass rushers in a 3-4 defense, one middle linebacker stepping into a vacated starting job and the best linebacker we have ever scouted.

    A pretty solid group.

    Aldon Smith and Justin Houston are both premier pass rushers who were added to team's with immediate needs at outside linebacker for their 3-4 defense. Smith and Houston will be Week 1 starters, and they'll both play in the same line-up as Pro Bowl linebackers.

    Colin McCarthy was a sleeper of this draft class. He will be a tackling machine for the Titans in replacement of Stephen Tulloch, a free agent who many expect to leave for a bigger pay day.

    Von Miller is simply too good to not mention. He can do it all and should see big stats in his rookie season.

Defensive Backs

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    Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals; Prince Amukamara, New York Giants, Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens; Jaiquawn Jarrett, Philadelphia Eagles

    We picked our top three cornerbacks and one free safety for our All-Rookie secondary. And for good reason.

    Patrick Peterson will round-out a star-studded secondary in Arizona. Opposing quarterbacks will be forced to choose between targeting the dangerous rookie or Pro Bowler Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie opposite him.

    In New York Prince Amukamara will benefit from an injury-prone cornerback group, and a dominant pass rush that forces quarterbacks into making mistakes.

    Jimmy Smith could have been the second cornerback drafted in this class, he's that good. In Baltimore he'll have the advantage of playing with Ed Reed in the same secondary, and also from a pass rush that will pressure quarterbacks to throwing his way.

    Why Jaiquawn Jarrett? The cornerbacks around him are good enough to force quarterbacks to throw the ball in tight windows. For a free safety will excellent range, like Jarrett, he will be able to make interceptions on over-thrown and tipped balls.