Andy Dalton and the 6 Best Rookies Drafted Outside the 1st Round
A number of the NFL’s first-round draft picks are having successful seasons in their first year as a pro.
First overall draft pick Cam Newton has had record-setting games in Carolina; second overall draft pick, the Broncos’ Von Miller, is one of the favorites for Defensive Rookie of the Year; receivers Julio Jones, Greg Little and A.J. Green have all had respectable numbers for their teams and the list continues.
However, very few rookies have had as much success as Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who not only was not selected until the 2nd Round, but was the fifth overall quarterback choice in the draft.
This entire season, Dalton has been proving why perhaps teams should have taken a chance on him a little sooner.
Working with minimal talent, Dalton has managed to lead the Bengals to a 7-4 record so far, putting them in the thick of a playoff chase. Already Dalton's seven wins are three more than what the Bengals had all last season.
Not only has Dalton been responsible for his own success, but he has also helped out his favorite target, rookie A.J. Green, and vice-versa.
Green has had a great rookie season because Dalton loves throwing the ball to him, and Dalton can credit much of his success to Green’s talent at the receiver position. The Bengals have won six of their last eight games, with their two losses coming in Week 10 and 11 when Green was out due to injury.
This week against the Browns, Dalton was 21-of-31 for 270 yards and a quarterback rating of 105.6. 110 of those yards were to A.J. Green.
Dalton is not the only draft pick selected outside of the 1st Round who has been impressive. Here’s a look at a few others.
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back DeMarco Murray had to wait a little longer to get his first legitimate shot to show his stuff on an NFL field, but ever since that opportunity arose, Murray has not looked back.
Selected in the 3rd Round as the 71st pick overall, it wasn’t until Week 6 of the regular season that Murray received double-digit carries. In a loss to New England, he had 11 carries for 34 yards.
However, in the following week, with Cowboys starter Felix Jones out due to injury, Murray broke records, rushing for 253 yards on 25 carries, breaking Emmitt Smith’s single-game rushing record for a Cowboy.
Murray’s success running the ball has continued from there, rushing for 74 yards on just eight carries in Week 8, 139 yards in Week 9, 135 yards in Week 10, 73 yards in Week 11 and 87 yards this week.
Murray currently leads all rookie running backs in yards, by more than 300 yards, and is ranked eighth overall in the NFL in rushing yards.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Baltimore Ravens took wide receiver Torrey Smith as the 58th overall pick in the 2nd Round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Smith, who seems to be slowly becoming quarterback Joe Flacco's favorite target, is fourth among rookie wide receivers in yards, behind first-rounders A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Doug Baldwin, and second in touchdowns, behind A.J. Green and tied with Denarius Moore.
During Week 11, Smith was awarded AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 165-yard, one-touchdown performance in the Ravens' 31-24 defeat of the Bengals.
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Houston Texans rookie linebacker Brooks Reed was selected as the 42nd overall pick in the 2nd Round.
Recently named a starter, Reed has been an asset to this Texans defense, particularly in the absence of Mario Williams.
Just this week, Reed recorded his sixth sack this season, giving him at least one in five consecutive games.
His six sacks rank third among rookies, behind superstars Von Miller and Aldon Smith, who seem to be battling it out for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Harry How/Getty Images
The Oakland Raiders rookie wide receiver was definitely one of the sleepers of the draft, having not been selected until the 5th Round as the 148th overall pick.
Already Moore has a had a couple of career games sprinkled with highlight-caliber catches.
During Week 10, in quarterback Carson Palmer's second start with the Raiders, Moore was the favorite target, on the receiving end of both of Palmer's touchdown passes, and accumulating 123 yards.
Amongst rookies, Moore ranks fifth in receiving yards and second in touchdowns.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Green Bay rookie Randall Cobb has not only been a nice addition to the already-stacked Packers' receiving corp, but he has been a dual threat as a standout in the return game.
Selected as the 64th overall pick in the 2nd Round, Cobb has shined on special teams.
Already Cobb has a kick return for a touchdown, as well as a punt return for a touchdown.
Cobb's kick return for a touchdown came during his rookie debut in Week 1, when he ran 108 yards for the touchdown, tying the NFL record for longest kick return in history.
Cobb's 80-yard punt return was the fifth longest this season.
Cobb's 696 return yards this season rank third overall in the NFL, and first among rookies, leading fellow rookie Clyde Gates by 125 yards.
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
Seahawks rookie wide receiver Doug Baldwin is another player worth noting when talking about underrated rookies.
Baldwin was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Seahawks following the lockout.
This season, Baldwin ranks third among rookie wide receivers in receiving yards and fifth in touchdowns.