Blaine Gabbert and the 8 Most Underwhelming Rookies of 2011
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There is something about being a first-round draft choice that raises expectations.
Some rookies, including linebacker Von Miller of the Broncos, wide receiver A.J. Green of the Bengals, cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Cardinals and defensive end Aldon Smith of the 49ers have made immediate impacts.
But things don't go smoothly for everybody. Here's our list of the new kids on the block who still have a ways to go.
8. Marcell Dareus, Bills DT
Marcell Dareus, Bills DT
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Marcell Dareus has been good enough to start every game so far, but Buffalo could use more than he’s been providing.
He came into this weekend with only 21 tackles in 10 games.
Admittedly, he does have 3.5 sacks, and his potential seems to be good, but the Bills aren’t getting immediate return from the third overall pick in the draft.
7. J.J. Watt, Texans DE
J.J. Watt, Texans
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The 11th pick in the 2011 draft out of Wisconsin, J.J. Watt is getting the hang of things, but has yet to really emerge.
Watt came into this weekend with 2.5 sacks and 30 tackles in 10 games.
On the other hand, Houston is in first place, and Watt gets to take a little bit of the credit.
6. Christian Ponder, Vikings QB
Christian Ponder, Vikings
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It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Ponder.
Instead, McNabb lost his job and Ponder was pushed onto the field prematurely.
And it shows. He’s completed 52.1 percent of his passes, but he has more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (5), and the Vikings came into the weekend 1-3 in his starts.
5. Jake Locker, Titans QB
Jake Locker, Titans
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Many rookie quarterbacks don’t see the light of day in the first year.
Locker isn’t starting, but he isn’t one of those. He’s gotten into games in support of Matt Hassselbeck enough to throw 21 passes.
So far, the results have been mixed. He’s only completed 10 of the passes, although two of them have gone for scores.
4. Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars QB
Blaine Gabbert, Jaguars
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Blaine Gabbert has been thrown into the fire in his first year with Jacksonville after the Jaguars made him the 10th overall pick in the draft.
He seems to have the talent to justify the pick, but his first year has been a tough one.
He’s been in nine games, he’s started eight of them and the Jaguars are confident he’s the guy they’re going to go forward with.
At the same time, he has completed only 48.9 percent of his passes, and his yardage total of 1,235 isn’t anything that will rewrite the record books.
More than that, he seems to have been cautious in opening up the Jaguars’ offense.
3. Julio Jones, Falcons WR
Julio Jones, Falcons
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There has been no breakout season for Jones, who was the sixth player taken in the draft, the first wide receiver.
The former Alabama star has appeared in seven of Atlanta’s 10 games, and Jones has been, well, OK. He has 30 catches, two of which have gone for touchdowns.
Still, the Falcons could have wished for more given Jones’ success with the Crimson Tide.
2. Robert Quinn, Rams DE
Robert Quinn, Rams
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Robert Quinn, the 14th overall pick in the draft out of North Carolina, has yet to make his first NFL start.
St. Louis has gotten him in mostly in passing situations, and when they have, he’s done all right. He has just 14 tackles, but he has four sacks.
What he needs to do now is to work his way into a starting job.
1. Nick Fairley, Lions DE
Nick Fairley, Lions
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The 13th pick in the draft out of Auburn, Fairley has only started six of the first 10 games for the Lions.
It’s not a matter of lack of talent; the reason he missed five of the Lions’ first eight games was a painful foot injury
But when he’s been in the game, he hasn’t done much, just four tackles with no sacks.