Rookie Watch: Oher tops final list
The 2009 rookie class ended up being a very solid group. I never had trouble in any given week coming up with my top 10 players as there were plenty to choose from.
However, what has been difficult is coming up with my rookie of the year. This was a close race between primarily two players, with either Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin and Baltimore Ravens OT Michael Oher holding down the top spot in the rankings on a weekly basis.
Harvin has held down more weeks in the top spot, but Oher made a late push and that is why I am going to go with him as my rookie of the year.
Offensive linemen do not get enough credit in the rookie of the year balloting. We saw this a few years ago when the honor should have gone to San Diego Chargers LT Marcus McNeill. There are no real stats to gage an offensive lineman. There is not a stat for sacks allowed. A big reason for that is because defensive linemen sometimes stunt up front and it can be tough to tell who actually gives up a sack unless you just flat out see the defensive end run by an offensive tackle on the island.
The bottom line is that nobody consistently could turn the corner on Oher this season. He possesses excellent foot quickness, agility and balance. He was as effective versus the speed rush as he was the bull rush. Due to injury he at one point had to move over to the left side and looked as comfortable on the right side. For that reason Oher is my rookie of the year.
Here is the rest of the top 10:
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Status||Last week|
|Percy Harvin, Vikings WR (first round, No. 22)
He did not play as much down the stretch because of migraines, but turned in an excellent Week 17 that put him back in the running with Oher for the top spot. He has been one of the best playmakers in the NFL all season long. The thing I love most about him is that he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
|Brian Cushing, Texans OLB (first round, No. 15)
Cushing was named Defensive Rookie of the Year on Tuesday. Not only are his instincts phenomenal for a rookie, they are on par with a five-year veteran who has started every game at the position. Rarely do you see Cushing out of position. I love his speed, range and playmaking ability. He needs to become more of a vocal leader next season and that should come now that he has his feet wet.
|Brian Orakpo, Redskins DE (first round, No. 13)
He led all rookies in sacks with 11. The Redskins asked him to do quite a bit this season as an OLB on early downs and then play with his hand on the ground on passing downs. He needs to learn to not always rely on his speed as a rusher and will spend this offseason working on his pass-rush moves. He also needs to improve in coverage. With a new staff it could be a new system, but he did enough in 2009 to warrant his spot on this list by steadily improving in the system.
|Jairus Byrd, Bills FS (second round, No. 10)
He missed the last two games of the 2009 season due to injury, but he did enough in the first 14 weeks to wear the crown of being the best rookie defensive back in the NFL. He finished the season with nine interceptions and was a ball hawk in the back end of the Bills' defense. As a former corner he needs to become a little more physical in the run game but that will come as he adds a little more bulk and strength this offseason.
|Clay Matthews, Packers LB (first round, No. 26)
He is the first pure 3-4 LB on this list. He finished second in sacks to Orakpo with 10 on the season. He is a blue-collar player who shows above-average quickness and burst as a pass-rusher. Whereas some rookies tend to hit the wall, Matthews got better and better as the season wore on. He will improve in coverage as he gets more reps but for now he has as good a motor as anyone on this list.
|James Laurinaitis, Rams LB (second round, No. 3)
He finished his rookie season with 120 tackles, one forced fumble and two interceptions. He was a consistent tackling machine on a bad defensive football team. While we would like to see him make more explosive plays at and around the line of scrimmage, we also understand that is not going to happen until the Rams put better players around him.
|DeAndre Levy, Lions OLB (third round, No. 12)
He finished his rookie season with 85 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception, which is very good production considering he started only 10 games during the regular season. He is a building block on which this defense can begin to improve and build around.
|Louis Delmas, Lions S (second round, No. 1)
He has been a regular on this top-10 list for much of the season. He is one of those players where you have to look beyond the stats a little to see how he performed this season. As a safety, the numbers just aren't always going to be there. He was effective in run support and did a nice job in man coverage on the TE for a good portion of the season.
|Mike Wallace, Steelers WR (third round, No. 20)
The No. 10 spot is kind of like a wild card. In other words there are a lot of players deserving but I am going to go with Wallace because of his speed and big-play ability. Other then Harvin, there was no other rookie playmaker as explosive as Wallace, who averaged 19.4 yards per reception this season.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- Seahawks CB Lane leaves for arm after INT
- Seahawks SS Chancellor wearing knee brace
- Super Bowl XLIX tickets most expensive ever
- Sources: Peyton may decide to return soon
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Nike Women's Home Limited Jersey Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews #52