Welcome to the first installment of the Rookie Report, a weekly column where we'll discuss the fantasy potential and future ramifications of this year's crop of rookies.
History suggests that when analyzing NFL rookies, the main focus always falls on the running back position. Usually a running back is drafted with the idea that he'll either start right away or, at the very least, be part of a committee. With quarterbacks you have a steeper learning curve, as it takes time to adjust to the speed of the NFL game. As a result, it's rare for a rookie quarterback to see anything more than spot duty during his first season. This season, however, is the exception. With wide receivers, there's the now-infamous third year breakout theory. However, there are exceptions to every rule. Last season guys such as
In this first piece, we'll introduce you to a number of the NFL rookies who are starters, committee members or who may eventually produce solid fantasy returns. As the season progresses, we'll likely narrow the focus each week to a number of rookies actually making said impact and how you should treat them as far as your roster is concerned.
Ryan will be handed the reins in Week 1. The question, though, is whether that's an indication about how ready and prepared Ryan is for the NFL, or just how awful the other choices were. Seems it is a combination of both. The knock on Ryan is he doesn't possess the arm strength of a true gunslinger. What Ryan does have is all the intangibles. His in-game IQ and field intelligence are well ahead of many quarterbacks at this stage. He's a leader who will command respect in the huddle from his very first snap. From a fantasy perspective, he's likely not ready to make an impact in the NFL in 2008 while leading a predominantly run-first offense, which, outside of
At 6-foot-7 and 236 pounds, Flacco can easily see the field, has excellent pocket presence and his arm has been called a howitzer. The negative, of course, is the level of competition he was exposed to in college, as well as the fact that Delaware's mostly shotgun offense is very different from being under center in the NFL. The good news for Flacco is that he enters a run-first offense that will not put a great deal of pressure on him to lead them down the field. Potential breakout receiver
Henne possesses a strong arm and can stretch the field with wide sideline throws as well as deep balls. While not the ideal size (6-foot-2, 225 pounds), Henne makes up for it with toughness and his ability to read and breakdown defenses. Joining the worst team in football is never a promising proposition for a young player, but when you combine
Brohm's mechanics are ready to play, as are his above average arm strength, great touch and ability to hit receivers in stride. In addition, Brohm has great football smarts, a strong work ethic and the ability to read defenses very well. He ran a complicated offense in college, so he should be a quick study for an NFL West Coast offense. The negative for Brohm is that the Packers have been grooming
McFadden begins the season as the complement to
At 5-foot-11 and 235 pounds, Stewart is a power back who should complement the speed of
The 22nd overall pick out of Arkansas, Jones will find his role in the NFL quite similar to his days in college, as he'll be counted on to complement incumbent starter
Last year's season-ending knee injury to
At 6-foot-1, 217 pounds Forte is a strong, tough runner between the tackles who can move the pile with just enough speed to get outside. He also has excellent hands, which not only make him a viable starter, but an every-down back. He's a gritty, determined runner with the ability to churn out yards, which fits right into the Bears' mentality and the toughness of the NFC Central. The negatives on Forte are that he had three mediocre seasons before busting out as a senior in what many consider a very weak Conference USA. Plus, he lacks the breakaway speed and athleticism normally associated with a feature back, and he suffered a serious knee injury in '06. He'll need to prove himself early, as
Smith is fluid, cuts quickly, has great field vision and fits new ensive coordinator
At 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Slaton isn't necessarily your prototype at running back. More of an outside runner, Slaton has great speed and quickness. The door is wide open for him to grab a prominent role in Houston, as current starter
At 6-feet and 170 pounds, this diminutive receiver draws comparisons to Carolina's
Avery, 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, is not your prototypical wide receiver, but he is blessed with speed (4.29 40-yard dash) and will be a threat to take it the end zone on every catch. He needs to fine tune his route-running ability as well as go over the middle more, but he's going to be counted on to help replace the production of the departed
Thomas is more of the prototype for NFL receivers. He is a big target who doesn't go down easily. He's got terrific hands and isn't afraid to go over the middle and make catches in traffic. He combines toughness with the speed to go the distance on any play. He'll fit easily into head coach
Hardy caught 79 passes for 1,125 yards and a whopping 16 touchdowns last year in college. The Bills desperately needed a complement to
Royal was a guy many figured as a return man. Well, he came to camp and won a prominent role in the offense. According to head coach
Keller combines size with good speed and athletic ability. He's likely too big for a defensive back and too quick for a linebacker to cover. The Jets have been using Keller in the slot, much in the same way the Cowboys use
The Seahawks have been looking for a tight end for their West Coast offense after the failed
There's your rookie report for this week. Good luck this week. See you next time.