Patrick Peterson and the 10 Most Electrifying NFL Rookies
The speculation that swirls in the air of Radio City Music Hall each April is enough to cause a small tornado to appear. There's criticism waiting for almost every NFL draft choice. Cam Newton is not a No. 1-overall-caliber quarterback, the Atlanta Falcons mortgaged way too much to get Julio Jones...you hear it all.
Come December, the speculation turns to evaluation. In that evaluation, some rookies fulfill fans' expectations, while other are doomed busts and scorned, only to be used as an example for the next draft as to why not to pick such a player so high in the draft.
Of the 254 rookies selected in the 2011 NFL draft, there are 10 that have made the switch from Saturday to Sunday and have kept electrifying fans in the stadiums. These guys are game-changers.
It's time for you to be a screen-changer. Click below to change this screen and get electrified. I dare you.
Patrick Peterson Makes Special Teams Special
The Arizona Cardinals drafted Patrick Peterson with the fifth overall selection. With Peterson, the Cardinals knew they were drafting not just a promising cornerback, but also a punt returner with the vision to slice through defenders and the speed to make it look unfair.
A punt return for a touchdown is, hands down, one of the most electrifying plays in the game. Peterson took a punt 99 yards for a touchdown, in overtime, to win the game. Steven Spielberg himself would have a hard time scripting a better ending to a game.
Peterson has returned four punts for touchdowns thus far this season. That's good enough to get the shoes that he's wearing in this video sent to Canton.
If you don't think watching Peterson running one back in English is exciting enough, try one in Spanish. It's even better.
Von Miller Blowing Up Offenses
Miller has 10.5 sacks on the year and is a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year. Linebackers have won Defensive Rookie of the Year honors nine out of 11 times since the turn of the century. Miller will make No. 10.
There were several videos for Miller. It was tough deciding which one to use. The spin move that he put on display in this video was amazing—a clinic on spin moves. But the way he blew up Sanchez won out.
Either way, Miller will be creating plenty of these highlights for the rest of his career. Next up: fellow rookie Christian Ponder.
A.J. Green Ignites the Bengals Offense
A.J. Green was the fourth pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. The Cincinnati Bengals put the cart before the horse by picking a wide receiver before a quarterback, but it has worked out nicely for the organization.
Green's success this year was viewed as limited because of the presence of rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has not slowed Green's maturation to any significant degree. In fact, Green has hooked up with Dalton for several big plays. The Bengals cemented the future of their offense with their first two picks.
Cam Newton Airing out in Carolina
No one could've predicted just how well Cam Newton has done in his first season in the NFL. Well, I guess the Carolina Panthers predicted it, and that's why they chose him.
Newton is on course to break just about every rookie quarterback record there is. He already broke Peyton Manning's rookie first-game passing yards record (422), and he's the only rookie to have thrown for over 400 yards in the first two games of the season.
By the end of the year, expect other records to be broken by Newton. The combination of his fearlessness running the offense and otherworldly athleticism makes it a foregone conclusion.
Unlike previous No. 1 picks at quarterback (think JaMarcus Russell), Cam is one of the best at electrifying crowds. From the moment he was drafted, Newton was getting fans excited about watching the Panthers; ticket sales rose, just like one of his 50-yard bombs.
Julio Jones Worth the Investment?
The Atlanta Falcons broke the bank to acquire wide receiver Julio Jones at the sixth spot in the 2011 NFL draft. The Falcons were determined to land a wide receiver in the draft. They first attempted to trade with the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Bengals were set on keeping A.J. Green all to themselves.
Out of desperation, the Falcons allowed the Cleveland Browns to fleece them to go from the 27th pick to the sixth pick of the draft. The Browns stole the Falcons' first- (27th overall), second- (59th) and fourth-round (124th) picks in the 2011 draft. The hemorrhage didn't stop there; the Browns also get the Falcons' first- and fourth-round picks in the 2012 draft.
Is Jones worth it? Maybe. He definitely has the talent. But with wideouts like Denarius Moore, Titus Young and Torrey Smith available, I say no.
Nevertheless, Jones has the ability to electrify the Atlanta crowds. Just look at the video. That is one of the most impressive catches I've seen, and it was in warm-ups. The man is amazing, but so was the price tag.
DeMarco Murray Making Strides as a Rookie
The Dallas Cowboys added DeMarco Murray to their already cluttered backfield with the 71st overall selection in the third round of the draft. After an injury to Felix Jones, Murray de-cluttered the backfield. He's the man.
Murray is averaging 5.7 yards per carry. Each and every carry, however, Cowboys fans are on the edge of their seats. This kid can break one for a touchdown any time he gets the rock in his hands.
Randall Cobb Sets Record in Rookie Year
The Green Bay Packers selected Randall Cobb with the last pick in the second round of the draft. He projected as a guy who didn't have breakaway speed. Hmm. I have video evidence suggesting otherwise.
In this video, Cobb went 108 yards for a touchdown and tied Ellis Hobbs' record for longest kick return for a touchdown. I bet Hobbs didn't have to do a "barrel roll" before he scored his touchdown.
Andy Dalton Grinds to Greatness
The Cincinnati Bengals were able to wait until the second round to pick their future signal-caller. Andy Dalton was selected 35th overall and was inserted as the Bengals' starting quarterback in Week 1.
Dalton has put up solid stats for a rookie: 16 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 2,509 yards. More important than his stats, however, is his leadership and ability to guide his team to wins each Sunday. Dalton has put the Bengals in a strong position to make the playoffs—something every team shoots for each year.
Dalton was the forgotten quarterback in the 2011 NFL draft. Jake Locker, Christian Ponder and Blaine Gabbert were all picked before Dalton in the first round. Come voting time for Rookie of the Year, he'll be the only quarterback considered not named Cam Newton.
Torrey Smith Provides Deep Threat for Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens used the 58th pick in the second round to add wide receiver Torrey Smith to their wide receiving corps. Ever since, Smith has been a game-changer for the Ravens.
In Week 9, Smith showed why he has what it takes to be a wideout who will provide thrills for years to come. Smith first dropped a would-be touchdown pass with seconds remaining in the game. Joe Flacco came right back to Smith with 10 seconds remaining in regulation, and Smith redeemed himself with a game-winning touchdown catch. Those two plays are the definition of an electrifying rookie.
Denarius Moore Doesn't Leave You Wanting More
The Oakland Raiders got a bargain with wide receiver Denarius Moore. Moore was selected in the fifth round as the 148th overall pick in the draft.
While Moore hasn't been as consistent at wideout as other rookies at his position, he has been just as electrifying.
Moore has big-play ability and prior to his most recent injury had established a great rapport with newly acquired quarterback Carson Palmer. Moore is a threat to break a big gain or go all the way any time he touches the ball, whether it's on a punt return or grabbing a 50-yard bomb like he did against the Buffalo Bills in the video above.
Honorable Mention: Rookies Making a Difference
Mark Ingram (RB), New Orleans Saints
Ingram was the 28th overall selection in the 2011 draft. He has been slowed by an injury to his heel but has still been productive for the Saints in his limited action. He needs to step up his game in order to be considered one of the more electrifying rookies this season.
Sam Acho (OLB), Arizona Cardinals
Acho transitioned from defensive end in college to outside linebacker with the Cardinals and has excelled at the position. The fourth-round pick has taken over Joey Porter's position and shows no signs of relinquishing his spot. He's the real "Acho Libre."
Roy Helu (RB), Washington Redskins
Helu has been mediocre for the majority of the season. The Redskins banked on their fourth-round selection being a little more electrifying than what Helu has provided thus far. In Week 12, however, Helu showed promise against a legitimate Seattle Seahawks run defense with 108 yards on 23 carries and seven receptions for 54 yards. Helu even managed to bang one into the end zone.
The big-play ability he displayed at Nebraska has yet to carry over to the NFL, but it should come over the next couple of seasons.
Tyron Smith (RT), Dallas Cowboys
Smith was the ninth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Because Smith doesn't get the ball in his hands, he's not going to show up on too many "most electrifying rookie" lists. He's still electrifying in his own way. Legendary Dallas Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck has nothing but praise for Smith. Recently, Houck compared Smith's talent level to that of 11-time Pro Bowler Larry Allen. That's the kind of praise that smells like the Hall of Fame is in Smith's future.
Aldon Smith (OLB), San Francisco 49ers
Smith has been a dominant force on the league's most dominant defense this season. Smith has recorded 7.5 sacks in 12 games this season while rotating with fellow outside linebacker Parys Haralson. He has become an impact player for the 49ers and a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
Ryan Kerrigan (OLB), Washington Redskins
After being scorned in the comments for omitting Kerrigan from the list, I have sheepishly come back to add him on the honorable mention list. Like Acho, Kerrigan has transformed nicely from a college defensive end to a promising NFL outside linebacker. While Kerrigan has found himself on a less than spectacular Redskins team, he has quietly become a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Had Kerrigan donned a 49ers uniform on a team that is hogging the defensive headlines this season, then surely he would've been the topic of many more discussions this year. Nevertheless, Kerrigan will be a force for years to come.