2010 NFL Predictions: Tim Tebow And 12 Rookies Set To Spark Playoff Runs

Robert Quinn@@RQuinn619Correspondent IAugust 10, 2010

2010 NFL Predictions: Tim Tebow And 12 Rookies Set To Spark Playoff Runs

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    ENGLEWOOD, CO - AUGUST 05:  Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Bronocs takes part in practice during training camp at Dove Valley on August 5, 2010 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Preseason has arrived and the regular season is just a month away! This past offseason was full of story lines, from the exciting NFL Draft, to the big free agency moves, to the blockbuster trades that brought Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins and Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins.

    We saw NCAA legends like Tim Tebow sneak into the first round; we saw Sam Bradford sign a contract guaranteeing him the most money in NFL history, and strangely, Ndamukong is a household name.

    These 12 rookies will make a huge impact in their first seasons in the league, helping in their quest for a Super Bowl ring.

Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles

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    ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 21:  Brandon Graham #55 of the Michigan Wolverines moves to blocks during the game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 21, 2009 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ohio State won the game 21-10. (Photo by Gregory S
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    In the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles traded up 10 slots from their 23rd overall pick in order to select Brandon Graham, a Michigan standout defensive end.

    Graham was highly regarded prior to the draft for his excellent work ethic, and proved himself by leading the nation with 28 tackles for a loss.

    The Eagles already have a strong pass rush, and adding Graham on the opposite side of Trent Cole is sure to leave opposing quarterbacks in fear.

LB Sean Weatherspoon, Atlanta Falcons

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    FLOWERY BRANCH, GA - JULY 30:  Sean Weatherspoon #56 of the Atlanta Falcons runs drills during opening day of training camp on July 30, 2010 at the Falcons Training Complex in Flowery Branch, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons drafted linbeacker Sean Weatherspoon out of Missouri, to fill the gap at weakside linebacker. Weatherspoon was captain of his team at Missouri, and finished last season with 111 tackles, four and a half sacks, and an interception.

    Weatherspoon is in a tight position battle with Stephen Nicolas and aging veteran Mike Peterson for two starting outside linebacker jobs.

    Weatherspoon and Peterson are expected to win the job by Week One.

RB Ben Tate, Houston Texans

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    TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Running back Ben Tate #44 of the Auburn Tigers rushes upfield against the Northwestern Wildcats in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2010 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    When sophomore Texans running back, Steve Slaton, couldn't seem to hold on to the ball last season, it created a huge problem in Houston. Slaton had a monster rookie season and was gaining massive amounts of attention heading into the 2009 season.

    The Texans were forced to start Arian Foster at running back, which forced the Texans to select Ben Tate out of Auburn in the second round of the draft.

    Tate is a hard runner and will take a huge load off of the shoulders of quarterback Matt Shaub.

OT Trent Williams, Washington Redskins

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    MIAMI GARDENS, FL - OCTOBER 3:  Offensive linesman Trent Williams #71 of the Oklahoma Sooners signals first down on a fake field goal attempt by Jarrett Brown #81 during the game on October 3, 2009 at Landshark Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    The Washington Redskins selected Oklahoma Sooner, Trent Williams, with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. His quick footwork and strength makes Williams the perfect offensive tackle for Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme.

    With the Redskins adding veteran left tackle, Jammal Brown, in the offseason, Williams will have time to gain experience at the right tackle position. Williams will be a huge improvement to the Redskins pass protection as well as run blocking, helping Donovan McNabb carry the team to the playoffs.

G Mike Iupati, San Francisco 49ers

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    SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 02:  Mike Iupati #77 works out during the San Francisco 49ers training camp at their training complex on August 2, 2010 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers offense has been short of stellar, to say the least, for the better part of a decade. By selecting offensive linemen Anthony Davis out of Rutgers, and Mike Iupati out of Idaho, the 49ers invested in two great pass protectors and run blockers that will ensure that the 2009 success of Alex Smith and Frank Gore continues.

    Iupati is a physical interior linemen, and is expected to start by Week One. With Gore coming off of an injury plagued year, this addition had to come as good news to the former hurricane, as well as Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick.

WR Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 14:  Brandon LaFell #1 of the LSU Tigers jumps over Jai Eugene #4 of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on his way to scoring a touchdown at Tiger Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    In the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers selected wide receiver Brandon LaFell, out of Louisiana State University, to eventually take over Steve Smith's No. 1 role. LaFell is a big, strong, fast, and physical wide receiver with great size and better hands.

    The Panthers desperately need a wide receiver to take coverage off of Steve Smith, and let first year starter, Matt Moore, have more options in the passing game.

    Everyone knows about the Panthers' strong ground game, led by DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart, but defenses now have to balance out their coverage, now that the Panthers have another weapon on the field.

    With head coach John Fox on the hot seat this season, LaFell will be called upon to lead the Panthers in the highly competitive NFC South division.

WR Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    TAMPA, FL - MAY 01:  Receiver Mike Williams #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs during the Buccaneers Rookie mini camp at One Buccaneer Place on May 1, 2010 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to have taken a step in the right direction, as they selected defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price with their first two selections in the draft, and wide receivers Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams later on in the draft.

    Mike Williams was a first round talent, but dropped to the fourth round due to concerns about his work ethic, as he quit the football team at Syracuse, Williams has reportedly been amazing throughout training camp, and is expected to earn the starting job over Benn.

    The Bucs desperately need an offensive weapon other than tight end Kellen Winslow for second year quarterback Josh Freeman to target. With the Bucs defense significantly improved, they are definitely a sleeper team to watch this year.

RB Ryan Matthews, San Diego Chargers

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    PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Ryan Matthews #21 of the Frenso State Bulldogs runs with the ball during the game against the UCLA Bruins on September 27, 2008 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The LaDanian Tomlinson age is over in San Diego, and Ryan Matthews is in town. The Fresno State standout gained an incredible 3,280 yards on the ground with 39 touchdowns in three seasons, averaging over 5.5 yards per carry.

    LaDanian Tomlinson was a bruiser, and his physical style of play took a toll on the veteran, who now plays for the New York Jets. Mathews brings fresh legs with a combination of speed and explosiveness that will help the Chargers ride to the top of the AFC West division.

QB Tim Tebow, Denver Broncos

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    ENGLEWOOD, CO - AUGUST 05:  Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Bronocs tosses the ball as he takes part in practice during training camp at Dove Valley on August 5, 2010 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The celebrity hype machine that is Tim Tebow is donning a new set of blue and orange gear this season, as the Denver Broncos selected the Florida Gator quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft.

    The Broncos also traded for Brady Quinn this offseason, and have Kyle Orton on their roster as well. Either way, Tim Tebow's celebrity status will most likely have him in the lineup by midseason, where his leadership abilities and champion attitude will help the Broncos on their playoff run.

LB Rolando McClain, Oakland Raiders

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    ATLANTA - DECEMBER 5:  Rolando McClain #25 of the Alabama Crimson Tide carries a rose as he runs of the field after their 32-13 win against the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome on December 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Phot
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Oakland Raiders made the first sensible draft decision in a long time when they decided to select Butkus Award winner, Rolando McClain, out of Alabama. McClain was the leader of the Crimson Tide defense, and racked up 270 tackles and five interceptions in his three seasons with the team.

    McClain will most likely start at middle linebacker for the Raiders this season, in what looks to be a promising turn around for a team that has gone from dynasty to the butt of jokes as of late.

DE Derrick Morgan, Tennessee Titans

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 17:  Derrick Morgan #91 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 17, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    When Kyle Vanden Bosch left the Tennessee Titans for the Detroit Lions, the Titans really needed to address the defensive line, as they lost Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Albert Haynesworth, to free agency.

    Derrick Morgan was selected in the first round, out of Georgia Tech, where the 6-foot-4 275 pound defensive end made 12 sacks and 52 tackles for the Yellow Jackets.

    Morgan is a dynamic and versatile pass rusher, and is extremely quick off the edge. He adds youth to an aging defense, and will be a cornerstone for the Titans front seven for a long time.

OT Bryan Bulaga, Green Bay Packers

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27: Offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga of Iowa runs during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers have the best young quarterback in the National Football League, yet allowed him to get sacked an astonishing 50 times last season. That is unacceptable, which is why the Packers jumped at the opportunity to select the offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga, out of Iowa, who was expected to be selected as high as No. 9 overall in the draft.

    By adding Bulaga to the offensive line, Aaron Rodgers will have adequate time in the pocket to find Greg Jennings or Donald Driver, as well as clear lanes for running back Ryan Grant to barrel through.

WR Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks

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    PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Golden Tate #23 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish runs with the ball during their game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    In his two years as the starting wide receiver for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Golden Tate caught 151 passes for 2,576 yards and 25 touchdowns, averaging over 17 yards per reception.

    Now, Tate is a member of the Seattle Seahawks, where he is desperately needed as veterans T.J Houshmenzadeh and Deoin Branch are aging. With Russell Okung added to the offensive line to protect quarterback Matt Hasselback, Tate should have an opportunity to perform.

    The Seahawks, under new head coach, Pete Caroll, didn't perform as expected last season, and hope to make up for it this year in a newly competitive NFC West division.