8 NFL Rookies Who Are Already Amongst Tops at Their Positions

Bill Robbins@bill_kc28Correspondent IDecember 6, 2011

8 NFL Rookies Who Are Already Amongst Tops at Their Positions

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    Every year, there are rookies who soar above the rest in many areas in the National Football League.

    Last year, we saw the likes of Sam Bradford, Ndamukong Suh and Eric Berry make their way to the upper tiers of their respective positions.

    Here are eight rookies that are among the top players at their position in 2011.

QB: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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    Rookie quarterback Cam Newton has been a breath of fresh air for the Panthers this season.

    He is currently ranked in the top 10 in several categories among QBs, including passing yards per game and total passing yards as well.

    The former Auburn star is also leading the league in rushing touchdowns at his position with an amazing 13 TDs on the ground this season.

    It will only be a matter of time before Newton will be a top-10 QB in many other statistical areas as well.

QB: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Sometimes it's not always about the stats that makes you one of the top players at your position.

    This happens to be the case with Bengals starting quarterback Andy Dalton.

    Dalton doesn't have any flashy numbers like his predecessor Cam Newton, but he has been very efficient this season with throwing 17 touchdowns and leading Cincinnati to a 7-5 record this season.

    Paired with talented rookie wideout A.J. Green, the future couldn't look any brighter for the Bengals offense than it does right now.

RB: DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys

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    One of the most exciting rookies to watch this season is Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray.

    He is the home run speed that any team would want in a back, and has been very solid for Dallas in his inaugural campaign.

    The ex-Oklahoma Sooner has rushed for 872 yards on just 159 carries, which makes him tied for first among running backs for YPC with a 5.5 average.

    At just 22 years old, I look for him to be a dominant back in this league for a long time.

WR: A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Green is having a sensational rookie campaign with the Bengals this season.

    He leads all rookie wideouts in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.

    The former University of Georgia standout is also tied for 10th in the league with his seven TD grabs.

    He's easily the best wide receiver from his draft class and clearly has a bright future in the NFL ahead of him.

DT: Phil Taylor, Cleveland Browns

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    Phil Taylor has been a load in the middle of the Browns defensive line.

    He is currently third in the league in tackles among DTs with 48 for the season.

    Taylor is also tied for fourth among defensive tackles with four sacks to go along with his enormous amount of tackles for a rookie D-lineman.

    Look for him to continue to rack up the tackles and sacks in the coming years for Cleveland.

OLB: Von Miller, Denver Broncos

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    There isn't anything really negative to say about Denver rookie Von Miller.

    In fact, he doesn't really seem to have a weakness at all when he's on the field.

    He ranks second in the league among linebackers in sacks with 10.5 for the year.

    Miller has easily been the most impressive rookie in the AFC, and should win the Defensive ROY award with ease this season.

OLB: Aldon Smith, San Francisco 49ers

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    If it wasn't for another player on this list, Von Miller, Aldon Smith might have the fast track to win Defensive ROY honors in 2011.

    The former Mizzou star has been excellent for the 49ers defense this season.

    He's picked up 9.5 sacks, while showing the same kind of non-stop motor that he displayed during his college days at Missouri.

    I expect Smith to be near the top in league in sacks for many more seasons before his career comes to a close.

PR: Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals

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    Even though I already mentioned that Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray is one of the most exciting rookies this season, Arizona's Patrick Peterson might be the most electric.

    He's been a force in the return game, specifically punt returns, as he has already taken back four punts for TDs in just 12 games this year.

    To put it into perspective, he's doubled Future Hall of Fame KR/PR Devin Hester's number of punt return TDs for this season.

    Opposing teams are quickly finding out that Peterson is someone that you want to stay completely away from in the return game.