Rookie Watch: Dunlap flashing potential
Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap probably should have made my list last week. I have been very aware of what he has done of late, but he just was not a factor during the first half of the season, which is why I have been reluctant to include him among a stellar crop of rookies.
But he is a factor now and has come on strong. Dunlap has a body type similar to Mario Williams and was simply phenomenal two years ago at the University of Florida. Last year, his motor didn't always run hot and he demanded a ton of attention from opposing blocking schemes. There was also some concern with his quick-twitch athleticism. As a result, he was not a first-round pick.
Dunlap seems quicker and more explosive now than during his final season in college. He also uses his huge body well and shows power and pop on impact. Dunlap might be the best news for a downtrodden Bengals franchise in 2010, as it has desperately needed help with its pass rush in recent seasons. Dunlap might just be the answer. He added another sack to his résumé in Week 16 as the Bengals upset San Diego. Dunlap is playing like a first-rounder now.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Sam Bradford, Rams QB (first round, No. 1)
After a few rough outings in a row, Bradford responded in a huge way in a critical divisional matchup. We might just see this guy in the playoffs.
|Ndamukong Suh, Lions DT (first round, No. 2)
Suh was his usual disruptive self as the Lions won another road game in Miami. The persona of the Lions is changing. Suh is a huge reason.
|Mike Williams, Buccaneers WR (fourth round, No. 101)
Josh Freeman put on a show last week, but Williams is his top target and added two more touchdown receptions to his great rookie résumé.
|Devin McCourty, Patriots CB (first round, No. 27)
By his standards of late, McCourty had a relatively quiet day. But he certainly didn't play poorly and remains a key figure for the Patriots' impending playoff run.
|Joe Haden, Browns CB (first round, No. 7)
Haden had a rough outing against the Bengals two weeks ago but made big plays against the Ravens, including a sack. He is really fun to watch.
|Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (second round, No. 42)
With Aaron Hernandez out of the lineup, Gronkowski had another terrific game as the Pats dominated Buffalo. Gronkowski keeps getting better.
|Jacoby Ford, Raiders WR (fourth round, No. 108)
Ford took the opening kickoff to the house against Indianapolis. His explosiveness and big-play ability are difficult to ignore.
|Mike Iupati, 49ers G (first round, No. 17);
Things did not go so well for San Francisco and its playoff hopes are shot. Despite the disappointment, Iupati remains a true building block.
|LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers RB (undrafted)
Seattle's run defense is dreadful, but Blount was a beast in Tampa Bay's victory. He ran with power and also broke off long runs.
|Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers C (first round, No. 18)
The Steelers had their way with Carolina last Thursday night and Pouncey played another very sound game.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
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