Rookie Watch: Bradford, Suh deliver
Sam Bradford has changed the face and perspective of the Rams' franchise. Other offensive rookies might have played their respective positions better than Bradford, but the degree of difficulty and importance of what he has done give Bradford the edge for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Few rookie quarterbacks in history have been able to read and manipulate coverage as well as Bradford. His poise is amazing and his accuracy and ball placement are already among the best in the league. Not only did the Rams have a rookie behind center, but they also were playing with a rookie left tackle, a right tackle with very little experience and a whole slew of receiving options with little pedigree to speak of.
Bradford isn't without blame, but his receivers let him down at Seattle in Week 17. Imagine what Bradford would have done with a more stable and veteran supporting cast. Or, think about what he might do going forward with a young ascending cast that will be tweaked further in the offseason.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
How rare is it that both the first and second overall picks live up to their lofty draft status in their rookie seasons? Well, that is exactly what we have this season.
There are not many rookies like Ndamukong Suh. I consider defensive tackle the most difficult defensive position for a rookie to come in and excel at. But that is exactly what Suh did.
Like nearly every first-year defensive tackle, Suh struggled early on with the run game. But he steadily improved as the season went along in that facet of his game -- and should continue to get much better.
A a pass-rusher, Suh is off the charts. His size, power, movement skills and tenacity are simply outstanding, and he combines those traits to harass quarterbacks and chase down and make plays all over the field. Suh is a force. The Lions are going in the right direction. And now they have their defensive building block in Suh.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Sam Bradford, Rams QB (first round, No. 1)
Bradford could not lead his team to a crucial win in Seattle to go to the postseason, but that shouldn't tarnish what he accomplished in his rookie season.
|Ndamukong Suh, Lions DT (first round, No. 2)
Already one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the league today, Suh is at just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he may accomplish.
|Mike Williams, Buccaneers WR (fourth round, No. 101)
Williams finished the season very strong and in most years would probably be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. He will have to settle for runner-up in my book, though.
|Devin McCourty, Patriots CB (first round, No. 27)
McCourty greatly exceeded expectations in his rookie season and is already among the better corners in this league.
|Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (second round, No. 42)
Gronkowski is on the verge of becoming one of the very best two-way tight ends in the mold of Jason Witten and Heath Miller -- but he has more upside than either veteran.
|Joe Haden, Browns CB (first round, No. 7)
Like all the Browns, Haden had a miserable Week 17, but that should not take away from what he has accomplished. Haden is a legit No. 1 cornerback.
|Tony Moeaki, Chiefs TE (third round, No. 93)
He is probably a step behind Gronkowski as both a blocker and receiving threat, but he is an all-around tight end -- and a very good one.
|LeGarrette Blount, Buccaneers RB (undrafted)
Blount has obvious size and power -- and production. But he isn't a factor in the passing game and still needs to learn to bring it on every carry.
|Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers C (first round, No. 18)
Never dominant, but always very solid as both a run-blocker and in protection. The Steelers' offensive line was in nonstop disarray this season, but Pouncey has been a constant. He was injured in Week 17, though.
|Eric Berry, Chiefs S (first round, No. 5)
Up and down, but his peaks are very high -- as is his potential to become one of the better do-everything safeties in the NFL.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
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