What an incredible season it has been for rookies!
If I had told you in April that A.J. Green, Andy Dalton and the Bengals would make a serious push for the playoffs in 2011, it would have likely destroyed my credibility. Yet Cincinnati is very much in the mix for a wild card in the AFC and it is largely due to the rapid maturation of the young quarterback-wide receiver duo.
By the same token, had I told you Cam Newton would be a prolific passer during his rookie season, many would have dismissed me completely. Here we are, however, Week 12 and the first overall pick ranks sixth in the NFL in terms of passing yardage. Though the Panthers remain in the cellar of the NFC South, Carolina fans have an excellent future to look forward to with Newton at the helm.
Former Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller has been a revelation for the Denver Broncos defense, recording 9.5 sacks through his first 11 games. Evoking comparisons to the late Derrick Thomas, Miller shows explosiveness and a pass-rushing prowess rare for his position.
As is the case with every draft, however, several players have failed to reach expectations in their rookie campaigns. Some players will spend the first season of their NFL careers riding the bench or on injured reserve. Many will rebound and carve out a niche in the league, but others are destined to fail and be labeled as a draft "bust" forever.
In the following slideshow, I'll take you through a list of every team's biggest 2011 draft bust.