2011 NFL Predictions: Predicting the All-Rookie Team

Mike KernsCorrespondent IIIAugust 31, 2011

2011 NFL Predictions: Predicting the All-Rookie Team

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    God, I love this time of year in the NFL.

    That time when everyone starts making up their tailgating menu, arranging watch parties and making their personal beer flow chart.

    One of the most enjoyable things around this time of the season is the predictions.

    Everyone is feeling optimistic about their team right now, and anyone can be a breakout player. With that thought in mind, I decided to call my shot for my personal All-Rookie Team at each position. I'll take a look at who the "favorite" or popular consensus is, and then I'll make my personal assessment.

    It's sure to garner a lot of criticism and difference of opinion, but that is why they're called guesses. Truth is, some of these guys will flourish in the NFL, while a good number of them won't quite pan out. There is no such thing as a "can't-miss" prospect in the NFL, and half of these will probably be way off. Remember, though, this is all in fun.

    Feel free to add your own in the comments below.

Quarterback

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    • Popular Pick: Cam Newton

    When you're taken No. 1 overall in a draft, there are going to be some high expectations placed on you. Even though he has looked shaky in the preseason, Cam is still the favorite of all rookie QBs to show any flash this season.

    • My Pick: Blaine Gabbert

    David Garrard knows how to play the game, no question. He is terribly inconsistent, though, and I believe it will cost him his starting job before the midway point of the season. Gabbert steps in and shows that he was worth the trade-up Jacksonville made to get him.

Running Back

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    • Popular Pick: Mark Ingram

    Ingram was a stud in college and seems to have been drafted into the perfect situation in New Orleans. 

    • My Pick: Mark Ingram

    I have a hard time picking against this one due to it being such a weak draft for RBs. I'd keep a lookout for Houston rookie Ben Tate (he missed all of the 2010 season, so he's technically still a rookie) due to the scheme the Texans run, but I think Arian Foster's injury concerns have been quite overblown.

Fullback

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    • Popular Pick: Charles Clay

    It's hard to say Clay is a popular pick because fullback is a position in football that is rarely given much attention. But Clay was the highest-rated one in this year's draft.

    • My Pick: Owen Marecic

    With the departure of Lawrence Vickers, Marecic has a real opportunity to see time as a rookie blocking for Peyton Hillis.

Tight End

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    • Popular Pick: Lance Kendricks

    With Kendricks working with the first team in St. Louis, many expect him to be a fantasy sleeper in 2011.

    • My Pick: Kyle Rudolph

    With Donovan McNabb no longer quite what he was in the past, I expect to see him check down to Rudolph quite a bit in a division full of elite pass-rushers.

Wide Receiver

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    • Popular Pick: A.J. Green

    There was talk leading up to the draft that Green could have gone as high as No. 1 overall, and his talent is hard to deny. He has all the tools to be a really special player.

    • My Pick: Julio Jones

    I'm taking Julio here over A.J. because I think he is just going into a better situation. Cincinnati has quarterback concerns and is rebuilding. Meanwhile, Atlanta has built an elite offense and is a contender this season. Lining up next to Roddy White will make Julio a monster this season.

Offensive Tackle

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    • Popular Pick: Tyron Smith

    Any time a tackle gets selected in the top 10, people are going to expect a lot out of you. That Dallas O-line needs a lot more help than just Smith.

    • My Pick: Gabe Carimi

    Carimi's performance at the Senior Bowl was enough for me to make this pick here. Playing at a smaller school than Smith didn't do him any favors, but he was still taken in the first round and should start immediately for the Bears.

Guard

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    • Popular Pick: Danny Watkins

    The big man from Baylor was the only guard taken in the first round and should see significant time in a weak Philadelphia offensive line.

    • My Pick: Danny Watkins

    Too hard to disagree with this one. As much as I like Danny Watkins from Baylor, seeing him go to Philadelphia just sealed this selection. Watkins will get plenty of playing time this year.

Center

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    • Popular Pick: Mike Pouncey

    Just like his brother last year, Mike was a first-round selection and will start immediately.

    • My Pick: Mike Pouncey

    I admit to having a lacking knowledge of rookie centers from this draft, so I'll just agree with the pedigree here.

Kicker

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    • Popular Pick: Alex Henery

    Henery was the only kicker drafted in the seven rounds of the 2011 NFL draft, and with David Akers taking off for the 'Niners, he'll get his chance this year.

    • My Pick: Alex Henery

    Since he was the only one drafted, hard to go against this one.

Kick Returner

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    • Popular Pick: Patrick Peterson

    He was the best at it while attending LSU, so this is easily the popular pick here.

    • My Pick: Patrick Peterson

    This one is difficult because we don't know which rookies will be returning kicks yet. I'd go with Peterson by default, but I have to wonder if the Cards are willing to use him in this position with how important he is to the team at corner.

Defensive End

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    • Popular Pick: Marcell Dareus

    Dareus was taken with the third overall pick in the draft, and some had him as high as the top pick. All the potential in the world right here.

    • My Pick: J.J. Watt

    I admit to being skeptical when Houston selected Watt over Robert Quinn, but after seeing him this preseason and how perfectly he fits in Wade Phillips' scheme, he's going to have a monster season.

Defensive Tackle

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    • Popular Pick: Nick Fairley

    The fact that Fairley slid to the 14th overall pick was shocking to many. However, lining him up next to Ndamukong Suh has have defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham salivating.

    • My Pick: Corey Liuget

    Fairley sliding so far in the draft was a red flag for me. I've heard that he's lazy and takes plays off and all that mess. I'm not sure if it's true or not, so I'm not going to judge. But the fact that he is still in a walking boot concerns me, so I'll go with the safe pick in Liuget.

Inside Linebacker

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    • Popular Pick: Martez Wilson

    A poor pro day was the main factor in Wilson falling to the third round of the draft. He was still the first inside guy taken in the draft, though.

    • My Pick: Martez Wilson

    His loss was the Saints' gain, as they got a steal here. He plugs in immediately and is a difference-maker from day one.

Outside Linebacker

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    • Popular Pick: Von Miller

    There are many, including myself, who think the Panthers should have taken Von with the top pick in this draft. He has all of the talent to anchor the Bronco defense for the next decade.

    • My Pick: Brooks Reed

    While I think Von Miller will be a much better pro than Reed, I think Brooks has more success his rookie year. A new coaching staff and scheme transition for a bad team will have Von confused at times. Meanwhile, teamed up with J.J. Watt, Reed is going to get plenty of shots to be disruptive this season.

Cornerback

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    • Popular Pick: Patrick Peterson

    As the top corner taken in the draft, Peterson will attempt to fill the shoes left by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Arizona.

    • My Pick: Jimmy Smith

    So-called "character issues" are the only thing that kept Smith from being a top-10 pick this year. Being drafted into a defensive unit with such leaders as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs to keep him in line, Smith just might emerge as the best corner in this draft by the time he retires. Baltimore is a perfect situation for him.

Safety

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    • Popular Pick: Rahim Moore

    In one of the weakest drafts in recent memory at the safety position, Moore was the first one taken. This didn't happen until the second round, but he could be a steal for Denver.

    • My Pick: Quinton Carter

    Taken with Denver's next pick was another safety: Oklahoma's Quinton Carter. Coming from the more battle-tested Big 12, I'm going out on a limb and saying Carter outplays his teammate this season.

Punter

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    • Popular Pick: Matt Bosher

    With the departure of Michael Koenen, Bosher will be the punter for the Falcons this season. Since he was the only punter drafted, we'll call him the popular pick here.

    • My Pick: Chas Henry

    Bosher may have been the only one drafted, but Henry was the higher-rated prospect. He'll make some noise in the all-rookie tandem at punter/kicker the Eagles have formed.