February 9, 2014 by Ell and Mike Sports
Preseason Impact Rookies Predictions: Winners and Losers Part 1
|Ell: G Jonathan Cooper
Mike: G Jonathan Cooper
Results: Both losers, Cooper broke his left fibula in a preseason game and was place on IR. He is a big lineman with great skills which should be shown by the fact that he was the highest picked guard since 1986 while going #7. Once he has made a full recovery, he should be a key lineman for the Cards who are in need of help up front. However, the real impact rookie on the team was Safety/CB Tyrann Mathieu who showed that he still has a nose for the football and a knack for making plays. It’s hard for a defensive player to make clutch plays and even harder for a rookie, but Honey Badger made it look easy before getting injured as he worked his way into a starting spot. Mathieu should continue to get better after a good rookie season.
|Ell: CB Desmond Trufant
Mike: CB Desmond Trufant
Results: Both winners, CB Desmond Trufant was able to play well despite teams targeting him often instead of veteran Asante Samuel, but injuries sometimes pushed Trufant into the #1 CB role at times giving him great experience. Trufant tied for the lead league with 15 pass defenses and only allowed 3 TDs on the season, while adding 2 INTs along with 70 tackles. He could be another shutdown cornerback in the making if he continues to improve because he has good coverage skills, speed, and size.
|Ell: S Matt Elam
Mike: LB Arthur Brown
Results: Winner Ell, Safety Matt Elam proved to be a solid defender continuing to provide a physical nature to the secondary as he is a proven hitter, however he did have some struggles in pass coverage. Elam had 77 tackles, an INT, 2 fumble recoveries, and 5 pass deflections as a legit starter who will continue to improve. LB Arthur Brown played limited snaps with 15 tackles and forced fumble, but is expected to have a bigger role going into next season.
|Ell: WR Robert Woods
Mike: QB E.J. Manuel
Results: Both losers, both Woods and Manuel played well, but it was rookie MLB Kiko Alonso who was the impact rookie leading the way on defense. Alonso was a solid tackler in the middle of the defense and really proved to be a special prospect who should continue to grow into one of the best MLBs in the league. Woods proved to be a solid #2 WR next to Stevie Johnson as he had 587yds and 3 TDs on the year. Manuel dealt with injuries, playing in only 10 games with 1,972yds passing, 186 rushing yards, 11 TDs, and 9 INTs. He showed good athleticism and arm strength, but must continue to improve in his decision making.
|Ell: DT Star Lotulelei
Mike: DT Star Lotulelei
Results: Both winners, DT Star Lotulelei led the league in run-stop percentage for DTs and he really was a massive force in the middle of a good young Panthers D. Lotulelei really helped in both pass and run coverage making teams who passed on him due to health concerns feel stupid. His presence allowed the linebackers and defensive ends to make plays easily as an offense can’t do much once the interior has collapsed. DT Kawann Short taken in the 2nd round has played well next to Lotulelei showing the motor and solid play they drafted him for. This should give them a nice solid D-line for years to come with two quality DTs and a star named Star.
|Ell: G Kyle Long
Mike: G Kyle Long
Results: Both winners, Long came in playing with good protection despite missing most of the offseason workouts with college graduation obligations. Long played a lot of snaps on an offense which set franchise records giving up only 2 sacks and 3 penalties, while the O-line was considered a weak spot last year. He was a pro bowl selection as an injury replacement this season which shows the kind of season he had and the work he put in with limited college experience. His only downside is that he can be too aggressive at times (hot head), but he improved the run game a lot with the most running success behind him. LB Jon Bostic was another good option as he had 56 tackles, a sack, and an INT this season while starting 9 out of 16 games. Bostic showed a lot of potential with his speed and athleticism and may have found a home at MLB, but he must improve his awareness so he can be in the right position to make a play more often.
|Ell: RB Giovani Bernard
Mike: TE Tyler Eifert
Results: Winner Ell, rookie RB Gio Bernard was able to bring a game breaking dimension to the offense outside of WR A.J. Green and balanced the ground game as a 3rd down back / change of pace back. Bernard had 695yds rushing, 5 TDs, and 514yds receiving for 3 TDs as a nice dual threat. TE Tyler Eifert was a good option on the offense with 445yds and 2 TDs, but played 2nd fiddle to the other weapons; he should be more of a factor going forward.
|Ell: OLB Barkevious Mingo
Mike: OLB Barkevious Mingo
Results: Both winners, Mingo was used mostly as a situational pass rusher, but he did start at times, as he totaled 42 tackles and 5 sacks from the linebacker position; he played DE in college. Mingo has the good speed and quickness, but needs more pass rush moves and more strength to add to his game if he wants to become an elite sack artist. He should continue to improve as part of a good young Browns defense which should find even more pieces in the upcoming draft.
|Ell: C Travis Frederick
Mike: WR Terrance Williams
Results: Tie, C Travis Frederick came in and provided the inside presence the Cowboys have been missing for a while as they really have had inconsistency at the Center position for the last few seasons. Frederick has improved the Cowboys run game like a true Wisconsin lineman and has only given up a few sacks. However, expect him to be there for the long term and continue to improve with a year in the fire. WR Terrance Williams has been a nice insurance policy with the injury to Miles Austin as he has been a nice option to take the pressure off of Dez Bryant. Williams had 736yds and 5 TDs on the season in a passing offense and with his size and speed he should only continue to improve. He should continue to make teams pay if they want to double team Bryant and once Austin is fully healthy they could have a good trio of WRs.
|Ell: RB Montee Ball
Mike: RB Montee Ball
Results: Both winners, RB Montee Ball proved to be a decent back this season rushing for 559yds and 4.7ypc with 4 TDs; however he did have fumbling problems which limited his play at times. Ball was a solid runner up the middle with the ability to still make a game changing play. He has been groomed as a nice power back this season and should be ready to take on a bigger role and learn from this experience. Another good option could have been CB Kayvon Webster out of South Florida as he had 41 tackles, an INT, and a FF while being forced into action due to injuries. He played well showing his physical play and good cover skills despite some inconsistencies; however, he should improve next season.
|Ell: G Larry Warford
Mike: CB Darius Slay
Results: Winner Ell, Warford turned out to have a solid season, and not just for a rookie, as he didn’t allow a sack all season and was one of the best run blockers on a Lions team with a much improved running game thanks to him. Slay played inconsistently and dealt with an injury, but he played better towards the end of the season. He was thrown into a starting spot and should have gained a lot of experience as he has the talent and size, but struggles with awareness; they are depending on him next season to improve. 1st round pick DE Ezekiel Ansah was also a star with 9 sacks and good run support on a talented D-line.
Ell: DE/DT Datone Jones
Mike: RB Eddie Lacy
Results: Winner Mike, RB Eddie Lacy had 1178yds, 3 TDs, and 257yds receiving as he took over the starting running back job. Lacy was able to give the Packers offense the balance is needed and was a consistent threat throughout the season. DE Datone Jones played limited snaps, but he had 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick. Expect Jones to take on a bigger role next season with those numbers.
*Offensive Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy
|Ell: WR Deandre Hopkins
Mike: WR Deandre Hopkins
Results: Both winners, Hopkins was the receiver that the Texans hope for as he took pressure off of WR Andre Johnson hurting teams who chose to double him. Hopkins showed big play ability and has potential to grow as he had 802yds, but only 2 TDs and both numbers are expected to grow. The only problem for Hopkins was in times when Johnson missed games and he had to be the #1 receiver causing him to struggle at times, but the experience should help in the long run.
|Ell: DE Bjorn Werner
Mike: DE Bjorn Werner
Results: Both losers, Werner was expected to be a raw prospect with great pass rush ability, however he got injured and struggled on the field once he returned. However, Werner did get a few sacks late in the season as he ended with 18 tackles and 2.5 sacks. He has shown flashes of his pass rush potential this season, but the Colts are expecting a lot more from him in year 2.
The impact rookie for the Colts was G Hugh Thornton who started 12 games and played in 14 games in the regular season while starting in both playoff games. Thornton is a huge lineman with good run blocking abilities he continues to try to work on his pass blocking skills which has led to some struggles this season. He appears to be a good fit for this team and his progress going forward will be something to watch.
|Ell: FS Jonathan Cyprien
Mike: T Luke Joeckel
Results: Winner Ell, Cyprien was a sideline to sideline tackler this season on a team in need of improvement in the secondary, but he was one of very few bright spots. Cyprien had 104 tackles, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, 6 pass deflections, and an INT on the season giving them someone to build with on D. Tackle Luke Joeckel was believed was believed to be NFL ready, but he struggled with a move to the right side and injuries. He was moved to the left side at the near the end of the season, but an ankle injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.
|Ell: T Eric Fisher
Mike: T Eric Fisher
Results: Both losers, the #1 pick in the draft struggled despite being played at RT and a smart decision for the team to keep LT Branden Albert. Fisher allowed 6 sacks this season and a lot of QB hurries (most on the team). The Chiefs were hoping to transition him to the blindside, but fixing his struggles at RT is now on the agenda.
7th round pick CB Marcus Cooper was the impact rookie for the Chiefs as he was able to earn playing time in a good veteran secondary. Cooper had 44tackles, a forced fumble, and 3 INTs. Cooper has nice size and good cover skills, but he struggled against the better QBs in the league. However, he played well for a rookie and definitely a late round selection so he should continue to grow and learn from this experience.