NFL Draft Predictions: Odds of Each 1st-Round Pick Winning Rookie of the Year

Dan Van Wie@@DanVanWieContributor IIIAugust 14, 2012

NFL Draft Predictions: Odds of Each 1st-Round Pick Winning Rookie of the Year

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    Who will win the 2012 NFL Rookie of the Year award? What are the odds that it will be a player that was drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft?

    Over the years, groups such as Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America and Newspaper Enterprise Association have come out with a single Rookie of the Year award winner, while the popular AP Rookie of the Year is broken down into an offensive winner and a defensive winner. For the purposes of this article, we are looking to name just one Rookie of the Year winner.

    We will look at all 32 first-round draft picks from the 2012 NFL draft and assign odds to each player's chances of capturing the Rookie of the Year award. In addition, we will analyze factors such as projected role and effectiveness and the rookies' early form in transitioning to the NFL.

    We will start our presentation with David Wilson of the New York Giants (the No. 32 overall pick) and work our way down to Andrew Luck.

'The Sporting News' NFL Rookie of the Year Award Winners (1980-2000)

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    From a historical perspective, it is interesting to see how Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America and Newspaper Enterprise Association have voted on the NFL Rookie of the Year award.

    The following is the list of winners from 1980-2000. Of personal interest to me are the years where the three groups all came up with a different winner, as they couldn't agree on a unanimous recipient.

    Also of interest is that the aforementioned organizations granted the award to a linebacker, tackle, tight end and wide receivers. Here is the list of winners of the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award. In comparison, the AP has never bestowed this honor upon an offensive lineman or tight end.

    1980  • Billy Sims, RB, Detroit Lions (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America)
    1981  • Lawrence Taylor, LB, N.Y. Giants (Newspaper Enterprise Association)
     • George Rogers, RB, New Orleans Saints (Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America)
    1982   • Marcus Allen, RB, L.A. Raiders (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America)
    1983   • Eric Dickerson, RB, L.A. Rams (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Pro Football Writers of America)  • Dan Marino, QB, Miami Dolphins (Sporting News)
    1984  • Louis Lipps, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America)
    1985  • Eddie Brown, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America)
    1986  • Reuben Mayes, RB, New Orleans Saints (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America)
    1987  • Shane Conlan, LB, Buffalo Bills (Pro Football Writers of America),  • Bo Jackson, RB, L.A. Raiders (Newspaper Enterprise Association) • Robert Awalt, TE, St. Louis Cardinals (Sporting News)
    1988  • John Stephens, RB, New England Patriots (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Pro Football Writers of America)  • Keith Jackson, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (Sporting News)
    1989  • Barry Sanders, RB, Detroit Lions (Newspaper Enterprise Association, Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America)
    1990  • Mark Carrier, S, Chicago Bears (Pro Football Writers of America)
     • Richmond Webb, OT, Miami Dolphins (Sporting News)
    1991  • Mike Croel, LB, Denver Broncos (Pro Football Writers of America, Sporting News)
    1992  • Dale Carter, CB, Kansas City Chiefs (Pro Football Writers of America)
     • Santana Dotson, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Sporting News)
    1993  • Jerome Bettis, RB, L.A. Rams (Pro Football Writers of America, Sporting News)
    1994  • Marshall Faulk, RB, Indianapolis Colts (Pro Football Writers of America, Sporting News)
    1995  • Curtis Martin, RB, New England Patriots (Pro Football Writers of America, Sporting News)
    1996  • Eddie George, RB, Tennessee Titans (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers of America, Sporting News)
    1997  • Warrick Dunn, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Pro Football Writers of America, Sporting News)
    1998  • Randy Moss, WR, Minnesota Vikings (Pro Football Writers of America, Sporting News)
    1999  • Edgerrin James, RB, Indianapolis Colts (Sporting News)
    2000  • Mike Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos (Sporting News)

No. 32 Pick: David Wilson, RB, New York Giants

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    The New York Giants drafted Virginia Tech running back David Wilson with the No. 32 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    In his first NFL preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Wilson had a strong showing, running the ball seven times for 43 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry. He had a long run of 26 yards. Wilson also caught both passes that were thrown to him, as he had a 16-yard and a 10-yard catch. He did not score a touchdown in the game.

    Projected Effectiveness

    The Giants want to prove that they are better than the No. 32 ranking they had in running the football in 2011, so that bodes well for Wilson to see some touches this year. The key for Wilson's chances to win the Rookie of the Year award will be tied directly to the health of Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw.

    While other rookies such as Trent Richardson and Doug Martin appear on the surface to have the opportunity to be more of a featured back, Wilson is being viewed as the backup to Bradshaw.

    As a result, the best chance for Wilson to gain votes would be for Bradshaw to get hurt, which I am sure is something that Giants fans aren't looking forward to reading or even thinking about. But, based on the 2011 season, it is something that could easily happen. We will take all of the above into account in assigning odds for Wilson's chances.


No. 31 Pick: Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Bucs

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Boise St. running back Doug Martin with the No. 31 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Martin has flashed the kind of tough, power running game that new head coach Greg Schiano wants to feature in Tampa Bay. The only problem is that veteran LeGarrette Blount is demonstrating that he wants the starting job as well, so according to Schiano, picking the starter won't happen for awhile. He refers to the position as a very fluid situation and will let the lead back emerge.

    Make it a point to watch the Bucs play in the final preseason games to see if either back is starting to separate himself from the competition.

    Projected Effectiveness

    For Martin to have any kind of shot at being named NFL Rookie of the Year, he will have to win the starting job and be very effective running the ball. He is playing for the right team, the right coach and the right offensive scheme.

    Now, he just needs to win the job and let the rest take care of itself.


No. 30 Pick: A. J. Jenkins, WR, San Francisco 49ers

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    The San Francisco 49ers drafted Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins with the No. 30 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Jenkins has been through as rough of a transition from the college ranks to the pros as any of his fellow first-round draft picks from the 2012 draft class. Jenkins has dropped passes, can't break out of either the second-string or third-string units and is more or less buried on the depth chart.

    He has struggled, and it looks like the 49ers made a major reach by drafting him with the No. 30 pick. In the preseason opener, he caught two of the six passes that were thrown to him for 20 yards. 

    Projected Effectiveness

    Right now, I can't envision using the term effectiveness in a description of Jenkins. He is anything but effective. The addition of Randy Moss helped to seal his fate. He will be allowed to develop slowly and work his way up the depth chart.

    He really would be an extreme long shot at this point for Rookie of the Year consideration.


No. 29 Pick: Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings drafted Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith with the No. 29 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Smith has been solid enough in training camp to allow the Vikings to view him as being in the running for a starting job at safety. In an article by Joe Oberle from CBS Sports, head coach Leslie Frazier assessed Smith's play in the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers: 

    One of the things when we went back to look at the tape—and we felt this way going in—Harrison was really making a push, he's going to get a chance to work in that first group.

    He's done enough now where we feel confident that he can go out there in a starter's role and we want to see how he performs in that role. He very well could start Friday, he's did some good things when he was in there Friday night.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Smith will make his share of rookie mistakes, but he is the kind of player that is smart enough that he will learn from them and not repeat his earlier errors, whether they are of the mental or physical variety.

    He played a solid, aggressive game against the 49ers, so look for him to make a big impact on the Vikings' defense this year.


No. 28 Pick: Nick Perry, OLB, Green Bay Packers

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    The Green Bay Packers drafted USC defensive end/linebacker Nick Perry with the No. 28 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    From an article at, the early verdict is that Perry isn't looking very special at all. Far from it. They asked defensive coordinator Dom Capers for an assessment of Perry. He replied with the following:

    There is really no way a guy can go out and play at a speed a guy has to play unless you are confident in your assignments.

    These young guys, they just need to continue to challenge themselves mentally and then, when they get repetitions on the field, they have to prove what they’re capable of doing. They’re all trying to establish what their identity is going to be right now.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Some players are able to make the transition from college to the pros easier than others. It seems that Perry will not be "getting it" right away, so the Packers team, coaches and fans will have to exhibit a degree of patience with him.

    Especially noting the injury to fellow linebacker Desmond Bishop, the Packers will want to make sure that Perry doesn't get down on himself. Their depth will be an issue if he does.


No. 27 Pick: Kevin Zeitler, G, Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler with the No. 27 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Zeitler will be expected to hold down a starting job on the Bengals' offensive line this year. He is a strong, effective blocker that likes to hit people.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Zeitler will more than likely be a solid guard for the Bengals, as are most offensive linemen coming out of Wisconsin. They are basically finished products when they hit the NFL. Sure, there will be some degree of coaching, because the defensive linemen that he draws on Sundays are clearly superior to the talent he saw at Wisconsin.

    As far as the Rookie of the Year award going to a guard? Come on, get real.


No. 26 Pick: Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Houston Texans

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    The Houston Texans drafted Illinois linebacker/defensive end Whitney Mercilus with the No. 26 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    So far, so good.

    The Texans have been delighted with what they have seen so far from Mercilus. Mercilus has proved to be a fast learner, and he is catching on well to the pro game.

    Projected Effectiveness

    The Texans have a solid defensive unit, so they are going to break in Mercilus initially on special teams, and then will work him into the defensive unit after his feet are wet.

    If Mercilus performs well enough, he might be in position to crack the starting lineup later in the season. For now, the Texans will be patient to let him learn his job and save his energy for special teams.


No. 25 Pick: Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots drafted Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower with the No. 25 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    There is already one believer that Hightower will be an impact player. That is Tom Curran, who covers the Patriots for According to Curran, Hightower will have the biggest impact among all newcomers for the Patriots:

    Hightower has been unbelievable in training camp, and he's going to be unbelievable when the regular season starts."

    Projected Effectiveness

    Hightower is able to be effective in stopping the running game, but he can also cover tight ends, which allows him to be a three-down player. It is looking like the Patriots nailed a solid player with the selection of Hightower.


No. 24 Pick: David DeCastro, G, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Stanford guard David DeCastro with the No. 24 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    If there was one player that seemed to be a sure thing on the offensive line (besides Matt Kalil) in the 2012 draft class, it was DeCastro. However, he hasn't been much of a sure thing at all so far in Steelers training camp.

    According to a story by Mike Bires of the Beaver County Times, DeCastro hasn't been able to live up to all of his hype. That has to be disappointing, as the Steelers have been trying to upgrade their offensive line and were counting on DeCastro to be a solid addition this year.

    Projected Effectiveness

    We may need to slow down a tad and see how DeCastro settles into the job. The rookie has only played in one preseason game so far, so let's see what kind of progress he makes over the rest of the preseason.

    But as for NFL Rookie of the Year as a guard? Nope, not happening.


No. 23 Pick: Riley Reiff, OT, Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions drafted Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff with the No. 23 overall pick in the draft.

    Early Form

    For now, Reiff has been limited to learning the offense as either a swing tackle or a backup tackle to Gosder Cherilus. You would like to think that your first-round draft pick would make the team as a starter, but for now, Reiff will be viewed as a second-team lineman.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Reiff came into the NFL with shorter arms at 33.25", which might limit his overall effectiveness at tackle. At some point, the Lions might consider playing him at guard. But as for NFL Rookie of the Year consideration, not a chance.


No. 22 Pick: Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns

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    The Cleveland Browns drafted Oklahoma St. quarterback Brandon Weeden with the No. 22 overall pick.

    Early Form

    The Browns knew early on that they were going to select Weeden to win the starting-quarterback battle over Colt McCoy. Weeden has shown moments of being an NFL quarterback, but in his first preseason game, he demonstrated that he wasn't on par with Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III.

    Weeden only completed 3-of-9 passes for 62 yards and an interception against Detroit. That couldn't have endeared him very much to the fans in the "Dawg Pound."

    Projected Effectiveness

    The Browns have newbies all over this offense, so it will probably be a long year for Weeden and Cleveland, as they constantly learn from their rookie mistakes. The growing pains this year will pay dividends down the road, but this season could be painful to watch.

    At 28, at least Weeden is mature enough that he should be able to cope with these struggles. If he was 22 or 23, he might regress.


No. 21 Pick: Chandler Jones, DE, New England Patriots

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    The New England Patriots drafted Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones with the No. 21 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Jones is looking like the real deal in training camp for the Patriots. He uses his long frame, power and agility to get around offensive linemen and make life difficult for quarterbacks. 

    Jones wants to prove that he can be a complete defensive end by helping out with the run, as well as being dominant as a pass-rusher. He is off to a very good start.

    Projected Effectiveness

    In the preseason opener, Jones was credited with five pressures out of the 14 times that the quarterback dropped back to pass. That is a very high success ratio, and that is why Jones was drafted—to put heat on the quarterback. It should be noted that this was against the New Orleans Saints, who have a solid offense.

    Between Dont'a Hightower and Jones, the Patriots look like they have dialed up some strong players and new blood to shore up the defensive unit.


No. 20 Pick: Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans

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    The Tennessee Titans drafted Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright with the No. 20 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Wright has been impressive throughout the Titans' training camp. As much of a disappointment as Kenny Britt has been with his injury issues, Wright has come through and been everything that the Titans were hoping he would be.

    In his preseason opener, Wright caught every pass thrown to him, hauling in three passes for 47 yards. The Titans have to be thrilled with their choice to draft Wright. He has lived up to expectations.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Wright isn't a tall, lanky receiver, as he stands at only 5'10" and weighs 196 pounds. But he is quick, and he can use his quickness to his advantage in creating space. Wright should be in store for a big year in Tennessee.

    Of course, if the reports are true about Chris Johnson being rededicated to football, you wonder how much Tennessee will be throwing the ball.


No. 19 Pick: Shea McClellin, DE, Chicago Bears

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    The Chicago Bears drafted Boise St. defensive end Shea McClellin with the No. 19 overall pick in the draft.

    Early Form

    For now, it appears that McClellin is being viewed as a pass-rushing specialist to complement Julius Peppers. The Bears view McClellin as more of a nickel type of defensive linemen, as his ability to stuff the run isn't as solid as his ability to rush the passer.

    Projected Effectiveness

    When there are obvious pass plays, the Bears intend to bring in McClellin to rush the quarterback from one side, with Peppers coming hard from the other side and Israel Idonije coming up the middle. The Bears hope that this three-pronged approach will net them more sacks this year.

    McClellin does excel at rushing the passer, and for now, the Bears seem content to let him focus on what he does best. That might equate to seeing action in roughly half the snaps, but you have to start somewhere.


No. 18 Pick: Melvin Ingram, LB, San Diego Chargers

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    The San Diego Chargers drafted South Carolina linebacker Melvin Ingram with the No. 18 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    The Chargers love what they see from Ingram. He plays fast; he is instinctive, athletic and physical. What more could you want from your first-round draft pick?

    He stays at home when he is supposed to, as per an article from the San Diego Union-Tribune. Very impressive to watch, Ingram might turn out to be something special.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Ingram isn't going to be the biggest player on the field, but he will keep the motor running and hustle to the ball. He will use his speed, power and quickness to make plays and become a leader of the Chargers' defense.

    Ingram will rely on his natural instincts and superior athleticism to make plays. He is going to be a solid all-around performer.


No. 17 Pick: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Cincinnati Bengals

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    The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick with the No. 17 overall pick in the draft.

    Early Form

    Kirkpatrick's rookie season was put on hold when he suffered an injury that would keep him out of the majority of training camp. The Bengals have been rather coy about the exact extent of the injury; first, it was said to be a broken bone in his knee, and then that was refuted later on.

    Regardless, Kirkpatrick hasn't been able to play much football or receive the hands-on coaching he needs to advance his game. Kirkpatrick admitted that they really never taught him how to backpedal at Alabama, so if there was anybody that needed to be coached in training camp, it is Kirkpatrick.

    Projected Effectiveness

    As far as his rookie season goes, Kirkpatrick is already behind the eight ball. He needs time to get his knee or leg (whatever is injured) into football shape. He will need to be worked into the lineup, gradually taking on more responsibilities as the season unfolds.

    But as far as the Rookie of the Year award, it's not in the cards for Kirkpatrick. 


No. 16 Pick: Quinton Coples, DE/LB, New York Jets

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    The New York Jets drafted North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples with the No. 16 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    In early August, the Jets were planning to use Coples as a pass-rushing specialist when they were playing in a 4-3 defensive scheme, but then they would take him out when they went to a 3-4 look.

    If Coples continues to play just like the way he did against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Jets may not have any choice but to keep him out there. Coples was a force in the game, as he tallied a sack and stripped the football, batted down a pass and made two tackles for loss. That is the kind of game that a playmaker would turn in.

    Projected Effectiveness

    It seems that Coples has trouble keeping the switch in the "on" position for every snap when he is in the game. Once he learns how to play with maximum effort every snap and knows when to ask for a breather, he will become a more effective player. Some lessons are harder to learn than others.


No. 15 Pick: Bruce Irvin, DE, Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks drafted West Virginia defensive end/linebacker Bruce Irvin with the No. 15 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    When the Seahawks drafted Irvin, there were a lot of puzzled looks from draft analysts. National Football Post approached Seahawks GM John Schneider to gain more insight into what went into Seattle's decision to draft Irvin. Here's what Schneider said:

    He’s not a finished product. He’s like a lump of clay. He has a lot of work to do, don’t get me wrong. But he is a guy the coaches think they can mold. His change-of-direction testing was phenomenal. His movement skills are phenomenal.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Irvin is blessed with great speed. That speed will help him generate a number of sacks when he speeds past offensive linemen that are much slower. But there is much more that Irvin still has to master, like stuffing the run and covering receivers out of the backfield.

    While the other areas are going to require Irvin to put in the extra work to become a more complete player, the sack totals will be his calling card as a rookie. Not sure if he will generate enough to be worthy of the Rookie of the Year award, but they will help him generate attention.


No. 14 Pick: Michael Brockers, DT, St. Louis Rams

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    The St. Louis Rams drafted defensive tackle Michael Brockers from LSU with the No. 14 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    At 21 years old, Brockers is still very young, so he is still developing not only as a player, but physically as well. He shows promise and wants to go out and bang some people.

    The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked head coach Jeff Fisher for an assessment of Brockers at training camp. Fisher replied with:

    He's picking everything up mentally. He came [to training camp] in really good shape. His strength is good[...] It's just a matter of wait until we get the pads on, get him in some preseason games and see how he can compete against starting offensive lines.

    Projected Effectiveness

    The Rams have some decent pass-rushers already on the defensive line in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but what they could really use from Brockers is his ability to stuff the run, which is something he did very well at LSU.


No. 13 Pick: Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals

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    The Arizona Cardinals drafted Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd with the No. 13 overall pick.

    Early Form

    Take your pick which report on Michael Floyd you want to believe. He is either a camp standout, or he doesn't exhibit the work ethic required to be a star in the NFL. There have been reports on both the pro and con side so far, so let's talk about what we were able to witness from the two Cardinals preseason games to date.

    Floyd has been targeted six times so far and caught two passes. He gained 18 yards on the pair of grabs and has yet to score a touchdown.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Floyd is trying to unseat Andre Roberts to become a starter, and so far, Roberts has been able to hold the rookie off. At some point this year, you would expect the first-round pick to be able to work his way into the starting lineup.

    Part of Floyd's impact will be a direct result of which quarterback is throwing him the ball. From what we have seen from Kevin Kolb recently, that might be a negative factor in expecting Floyd to have a productive rookie season.

    In a fairly well-documented story, Larry Fitzgerald called out Floyd with a DWI alert—as in "he doesn't want it"—when Floyd failed to show up for workouts with Fitzgerald. Floyd finally showed up, but not after having egg on his face for being absent.


No. 12 Pick: Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Mississippi St. defensive tackle Fletcher Cox with the No. 12 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Cox will be asked to play at both defensive end and defensive tackle this year, which is basically what he also did at Mississippi St. He is comfortable playing both positions, and since he is part of a rotation, he has the ability to jump in wherever the Eagles need him to help out.

    CSN Philadelphia asked Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn for his assessment on Cox. He replied with:

    When God made him, he meant him to play in this system right here. He's the biggest 296-pounder I've ever seen. He's just sudden; he's quick. He's just really athletic.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Daniel Jeremiah is a former NFL scout who now writes for He visited the Eagles' camp and came away with these impressions of Cox:

    The first-rounder out of Mississippi State is not going to be a good NFL player—that would be selling his ability short. He is going to be a dominant force at defensive tackle. Cox has rare first-step quickness, and his hands are very explosive against both the run and pass. He is going to create a pick-your-poison situation for opposing offensive lines; if they slide help to either of the Eagles' talented defensive ends, Cox will be a very disruptive player on the inside.

    Those overall assessments tell you what you need to know. Cox probably won't be a starter in Philadelphia this year—at least for the first half of the schedule—but if somebody gets hurt, they won't hesitate to throw him right in there.


No. 11 Pick: Dontari Poe, DT, Kansas City Chiefs

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    The Kansas City Chiefs selected Memphis DT Dontari Poe with the No. 11 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Not very promising, according to Chiefs beat writer Adam Teicher of The Kansas City Star. Teicher talked to Romeo Crennel, who gave the following assessment of where Poe, a "major project," is now:

    "A lot," Crennel said when asked what Poe must improve. "He needs to work on technique; he needs to work on understanding the system; he needs to get the calls correct all the time. He’s got a ways to go." 

    Poe will not be a starter this year, as he is only projected to come in for nickel-down situations. That is not what you would be expecting to hear from a player that was the No. 11 overall pick in the draft.

    Projected Effectiveness

    It seems that Poe has a long way to go to convince the Chiefs that he will be ready to take on more responsibilities other than nickel situations. Maybe one of the defensive tackles ahead of him gets hurt, but outside of that, this looks like it could be a long year for the rookie lineman.

    The rumor about Poe not having his motor turned on all the time was usually one of the biggest complaints you heard about him. How bad has Poe been? The Chiefs are starting Anthony Toribio, a player that sat on their practice squad all last year, ahead of him. The Rookie of the Year odds isn't a typo.


No. 10 Pick: Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo Bills

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    The Buffalo Bills selected South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore with the No. 10 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Gilmore has been a very effective rookie from Day 1. He is a quick study, inquisitive, likes to play football and has all the requisite skills to become an outstanding corner. He is not in the class of a Darrelle Revis or a Nnamdi Asomugha yet, but given some playing time and seasoning, he might not be that far away.

    Gilmore blankets wide receivers. It doesn't matter if they are shifty like Steve Johnson or taller like Marcus Easley. Gilmore finds a way to cover them effectively.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Gilmore already appears to be the best cornerback on the Bills' roster. After attending the Bills' first evening practice at training camp, I was watching his cover skills. He has the ability to close quickly, and he is able to see the ball in the air—something fellow corner Leodis McKelvin has always had trouble with.

    Gilmore could wind up being the first Bills shutdown cornerback in many years.


No. 9 Pick: Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers

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    The Carolina Panthers drafted Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly with the No. 9 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Kuechly has been exactly what the Panthers were hoping he would be—a physical, athletic player that can cover ground and likes to hit. He has been showing up at the right place at the right time, making interceptions against Cam Newton and looking much more like a veteran instead of a rookie.

    Projected Effectiveness

    While Kuechly will probably debut as an outside linebacker in his rookie year, he is in position to eventually take over as the Panthers' middle linebacker for Jon Beason.

    According to a story by Pat Yasinskas of, Kuechly has demonstrated that he is a playmaker and is going to make an impact on the Panthers' defense this year.

    For what it is worth, Kuechly is one of my three favorites for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The other two are Mark Barron and Stephon Gilmore.


No. 8 Pick: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami Dolphins

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    The Miami Dolphins drafted Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the No. 8 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Tannehill had to wait for some time to finally get his rookie contract signed. Once he did, he came into camp and demonstrated to the team and coaches that he belongs and is a serious contender for the starting job.

    His knowledge of Mike Sherman's offense has been invaluable and gives him a leg up on the more experienced quarterbacks that he is competing against.

    Projected Effectiveness

    If Tannehill is asked to start a preseason game against an NFL starting defensive unit, we will find out just how effective he can be. The initial showing was against NFL also-ran defenders, so I'm not sure you can put too much stock in that.

    With the knee injury to David Garrard, Tannehill now has a realistic chance to win the starting quarterback job to open up the season. The Dolphins may still prefer him to watch some games from the sideline to make sure that he is truly appreciating the differences in speed, defensive pressure, disguised looks and identifying other potential pitfalls.

    At least since the Dolphins agreed to do Hard Knocks with HBO, we can see the progress that Tannehill is making every week during training camp. If he does get the opportunity to start, the biggest obstacle for him winning the Rookie of the Year award will be the limited wide-receiver corps that he can throw to in Miami. When the Dolphins understandably released Chad Johnson, the talent level dropped another notch.


No. 7 Pick: Mark Barron, S, Tampa Bay Bucs

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Alabama safety Mark Barron with the No. 7 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Barron is going to be the starting strong safety for the Bucs this year. His skills in the secondary make him the logical choice to plug into the strong-safety role, where he will be asked to come up and enforce the holes in the Bucs' front seven.

    According to a tweet from Rick Stroud, Barron had to sit out the first preseason game for Tampa Bay due to a foot injury:

    Schiano says he doesn't expect Barron's foot injury to keep him out of more games.

    Projected Effectiveness

    We won't see Barron in any game action until at least the matchup against the Tennessee Titans this week or the New England Patriots next week.

    Barron was considered such a solid player coming out of college that it wouldn't be a surprise if he won the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award.


No. 6 Pick: Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys selected Morris Claiborne, a cornerback from LSU, with the No. 6 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Claiborne has been missing in action for quite a while during training camp, to the point that the team is not very happy with Claiborne's lack of toughness. Here is a tweet from Ed Werder on the subject:

    Dallas frustrated with Morris Claiborne. Stephen Jones praises $50M CB Brandon Carr, says rookie needs mentality to play with minor injuries

    — Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) August 11, 2012

    Projected Effectiveness

    The Cowboys thought they executed a major coup when they were able to snag Claiborne with the No. 6 pick, but right now, they have to be scratching their collective heads, wondering what they got themselves into.

    Claiborne has a sprained MCL, and he also recently had wrist surgery. Before much longer, he will start getting the label of "soft," which would evoke memories of Bill Parcells and Terry Glenn. That is never a good thing for a top draft pick.

    Claiborne is a talented player, but he needs to demonstrate some positive things to the Cowboys for them to start believing in him again. If he comes up with any other issues or injuries between now and the start of the regular season, it will make it difficult for him to be considered for any Rookie of the Year award.


No. 5 Pick: Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Oklahoma St. wide receiver Justin Blackmon with the No. 5 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Blackmon had an auspicious start to his NFL career when he was arrested for DUI in early June. The Jaguars then wanted to put language into his rookie contract that would protect their interests in the event that this turned into repeat behavior. That led to a holdout by Blackmon, so the Jaguars' game this week against the New Orleans Saints will be his first of the preseason.

    Blackmon has been away from Jaguars camp, so we will get a better idea of his early form after this game.

    Projected Effectiveness

    The one thing that we have to keep in mind about how effective Blackmon can be is who is throwing him the ball. If his quarterback is Blaine Gabbert, I don't hold out tremendous hope for a banner rookie season. If the starting quarterback is Chad Henne, I like the chances for Blackmon to make a bigger contribution.

    As things stand now, as shaky as Gabbert has been, I don't foresee Blackmon making a big splash in his rookie campaign. He is working out of the slot for now in camp, so we will see if that is where he plays the majority of the time this year.


No. 4 Pick: Matt Kalil, OT, Minnesota Vikings

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    The Minnesota Vikings selected USC offensive tackle Matt Kalil with the No. 4 overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Kalil has been relatively quiet so far in the preseason. He is focused on doing his job, learning what it takes to play tackle in the NFL and hasn't been going public with any major predictions like his older brother, Ryan.

    The Vikings are pleased with what they have seen from Kalil so far. He will be holding down the left-tackle job in Minnesota for years to come.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Kalil has been the starter at left tackle since camp opened up for Minnesota. He will be thrown into the fire as a rookie, and even though you can expect some mistakes or a sack allowed here or there, we expect to see an overall solid year from Kalil, as the Vikings insert an important cog to their future.

    The goal for Kalil is to neutralize the best pass-rushers in the NFC North, as he will have his hands full with the pass rush of the Lions, Bears and Packers. Hopefully, Kalil provides quarterback Christian Ponder with a feeling of security on his blind side.

    Winning the Rookie of the Year award as an offensive lineman is extremely hard to do, especially with the higher-profile quarterbacks to contend with. Thus, the much higher odds, which aren't a reflection of Kalil's ability to play strong-side tackle. It is more of a reflection of the Rookie of the Year voting biases.


No. 3 Pick: Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns

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    The Cleveland Browns selected Alabama running back Trent Richardson with the No. 3 overall draft pick.


    Early Form

    Richardson's preseason debut doesn't look promising due to knee surgery that will clean out some loose cartilage particles. The knee scope with Dr. James Andrews figures to eliminate any chances that Richardson has of playing in preseason games for the Browns.

    As a result, we probably won't be able to see him until the regular season, but how far in the regular season will it be before he is back to 100-percent health?


    Projected Effectiveness

    Richardson was drafted to take on the bulk of the Browns' running attack. While he is still expected to eventually do that, the first few weeks of the regular season may wind up being a breaking-in period for the rookie to get him used to the speed of the pro game and give his body a chance to adjust to the pounding of the NFL.

    He hasn't been able to practice that much due to the knee issues, so his timetable is going to be questionable for some time to come. There will be a stretch of games where Richardson hits his peak and stride, but when that will happen is hard to know right now. Watch how often the Browns hold him out of practices or limit his work during the week to see how his knees are holding up.

    Finally, whenever he is starting for the Browns, we can look at his running style to see how he is holding up. If he runs with the same power and agility he had at Alabama, then you know he is close to returning to form. If he is tentative or dancing, then that would be a bad sign.



No. 2 Pick: Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

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    The Washington Redskins selected Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick.

    Early Form

    Griffin didn't display his agility in the pocket in the preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, as the Bills' defense focused on containing Griffin and kept him in the pocket. The Redskins will be working on installing more rollouts and bootleg plays designed to get Griffin to the outside, where he has the option to run or pass the ball.

    Griffin was accurate with the football and looked smooth back there in the pocket. He wasn't rattled in his professional debut.

    Projected Effectiveness

    Griffin started the game in Buffalo and was able to direct the only touchdown drive in the contest. Griffin completed 4-of-6 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown. There was a fumbled handoff exchange on a running play that turned out to be the only real blemish on Griffin's professional debut, but that is correctable.

    As per a story by Mike Jones and Mark Maske of The Washington Post, head coach Mike Shanahan was delighted with Griffin's performance. According to Shanahan:

    I thought he was cool, calm and collected. I thought he did what he had to do. You're hoping your quarterback does play like that in his first game, but many times, it doesn't happen that way, especially in game situations. I was pleased, and hopefully we can keep on growing.

    Griffin stands a good chance to be effective as a rookie due to the concerted effort by the Redskins to surround him with better weapons, such as Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. The Redskins have a stable of running backs that will keep defenses honest, but the real wild-card intangible about Griffin is his legs and speed. How often Shanahan will allow him to run until he gets drilled for the first time will be interesting to watch.


No. 1 Pick: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

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    The Indianapolis Colts drafted Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall draft pick.

    Early Form

    Luck has been everything that he was originally billed as—if not more. He's displayed tremendous cool so far, going about his business of taking over the Colts' offense from legend Peyton Manning. Nothing seems to faze Luck, and he has shown the great composure and demeanor necessary to play quarterback in the NFL, as he proved when he had to scramble against the Rams in his first game.

    Projected Effectiveness

    In Luck's first preseason game against the St. Louis Rams, he completed 10-of-16 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. The Colts scored three touchdowns out of the four series that Luck was directing the offense, which is a percentage that all Colts fans would gladly accept.

    Luck's first pass in the game turned out to be a 63-yard touchdown to running back Donald Brown. How is that for effectiveness? Luck will make the most of his weapons and find ways to scramble in the pocket to buy time for his receivers to get open.

    The Colts were wise to draft several solid tight-end options, including Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, to give Luck some reliable targets to whom he can throw.


    Bottom line is that it would be considered a major upset if either Luck or Griffin didn't walk away with the Rookie of the Year award. With all of the hype surrounding both players and considering their natural talent, athleticism and maturity, it would be a shock if one of the top-two quarterbacks didn't win.

    Thanks for checking out the presentation.


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