Top 15 Impact Rookies Of Last 30 Years
Vince Young, QB
You can't judge Young's impact by his numbers. He brought an intangible quality to the Titans that helped them improve from 4-12 in 2005 to 8-8 in 2006, and they were 8-5 in games he started. The former University of Texas star frustrated opponents with his incredible scrambling ability and was at his best when the game was on the line.
Shockey immediately proved to be a dangerous weapon for the Giants' offense. The University of Miami product had 74 catches for 894 yards and two touchdowns in 14 starts. The Giants took advantage of Shockey's versatility, lining him up all over the field and creating headaches for opposing defenses all season long.
Tony Dorsett, RB
Dorsett didn't start until the 10th game, but he still made a huge impact, rushing for 1,007 yards and winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. Dorsett helped the Cowboys beat the Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII.
Billy Sims, RB
Before there was Barry Sanders, Sims electrified Lions fans. The former Oklahoma star ran for 1,303 yards as a rookie. The Lions improved from 2-14 in 1979 to 9-7 in 1979 and started selling out the Silverdome on a regular basis. Unfortunately, Sims couldn't stay healthy and only played until 1984.
Ottis Anderson, RB
The former University of Miami star was dominant as a rookie, rushing for 1,605 yards and eight touchdowns and catching 41 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals were not a good team, but Anderson was spectacular. He never matched those numbers again in his career, but he did win MVP of Super Bowl XXV with the Giants.
It's not unusual for shutdown cornerbacks to have big first seasons, because quarterbacks don't avoid throwing in a rookie's direction. With his incredible athleticism, Woodson became an immediate factor at cornerback and had five interceptions his rookie season. Teams did start to avoid him by the latter part of the year, and he was an outstanding tackler for a cover corner at that point in his career.
Dan Marino, QB
Marino didn't start until Week 6, but he was brilliant once he took over the team. He posted a then record-96.0 passer rating and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He'd be higher on the list, but his Dolphins were upset by the Seahawks in the AFC divisional playoffs after reaching the Super Bowl the season before Marino arrived.
Rogers entered the NFL after winning the Heisman Trophy at South Carolina and became an unstoppable force with the Saints. The burly Rogers led the NFL with 1,674 rushing yards and ran for 13 touchdowns. Rogers' career was hurt by off-field problems, but as a rookie he was one of the best.
Rookie quarterbacks usually struggle, but Big Ben was magical from the start. He went 13-0 as a starter, by far the best start for a first-year signal-caller. Roethlisberger threw 17 touchdowns, completed 62.7 percent of his passes and had a 98.6 passer rating.
After rewriting the NCAA record book at Oklahoma State, Sanders took the NFL by storm in Detroit. The Lions made the short running back the No. 3 overall pick, and he didn't disappoint. Sanders ran for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first season.
Coming out of Florida, Kearse was considered as a bit of a `tweener, since he was undersized for a defensive end. But "the Freak" had a rare combination of speed and power and was impossible for offenses to match up with. Kearse racked up 141/2 sacks as a rookie and helped the Titans reach Super Bowl XXXIV.
He didn't look fast, but if there was a hole, Dickerson would get through it. Dickerson was an immediate smash, setting rookie records for most rushing attempts (390), most rushing yards gained (1,808) and most rushing TDs (18).
Teams passed on Moss in the draft because of his off-field problems, and the talented wide receiver made them pay by lighting up the NFL his rookie season. Moss caught 69 passes for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns to help the Vikings go 15-1.
Earl Campbell, RB
Campbell ran for 1,450 yards in 1978 and won Rookie of the Year and MVP honors. He helped the Oilers make a run to the AFC Championship Game, where they fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion Steelers. Campbell also helped Houston beat Miami 35-30 in what many consider the most exciting Monday Night Football game of all time.
No one had ever seen a linebacker with the speed and athleticism of Taylor, who was dubbed "Superman" by his teammates. Taylor, who had 133 tackles and 91/2 sacks, transformed the Giants' defense into one of the most feared units in the NFL.