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30 Dec 2005

Too Deep Zone: All-Rookie Team

by Mike Tanier

If this year's All-Rookie Team actually took the field, they would look a lot like the Bears.

That's not just because Kyle Orton is the quarterback. Like this year's incarnation of the Monsters of the Midway, the 2005 All Rookie Team has talent to spare on defense. Offense? That's another matter.

Several excellent rookie defenders were relegated to the "honorable mention" category this year, particularly at linebacker, cornerback, and punter. But on the offensive side of the ball, it was hard to cobble together an interior offensive line, and the receiving corps wouldn't blow anyone away.

At Football Outsiders, we use objective judgment whenever possible, so many of our custom statistics -- Adjusted Line Yards, DPAR, DVOA broken down by opponent's receivers -- were used to help determine who deserved to make the All Rookie Team. Our scouting notes were also brought to bear; readers of Michael David Smith's Every Play Counts won't be surprised by some of the names below. But there's always a subjective element at work when selecting a team like this, so not every player selected is the "top" rookie based upon our statistical methods.

Anyway, on with the list.

Offense

Quarterback: Kyle Orton, Bears

For weeks, we heard that Orton "managed games well" or "did what he had to do" to win. But anyone who watched him play knew that he was just better than awful for most of the season. Still, he stayed healthy and prevented a complete disaster in Chicago. Decent outings against the Lions, Vikings and Browns showed that Orton has the potential to get better, but the Bears are happy to have Rex Grossman back for the postseason.

Running Back: Cadillac Williams, Buccaneers

Cadillac appeared to have All-Rookie honors sewn up in the opening weeks of the season. Then he hit the wall, and college teammate Ronnie Brown was poised to take his place. Brown had some highlight-reel runs against the Chiefs and Bills, but by December Cadillac was back to full speed and leading the Bucs to the playoffs. Williams has exceptional quickness, but he's most impressive when he's finishing runs and punishing tacklers like a much bigger back.

Fullback: Justin Green, Ravens

Green was a very good pass blocker and effective lead blocker before getting hurt in Week 12. He's also a fine all-purpose special teamer.

Wide Receiver: Braylon Edwards, Browns

His numbers (32 receptions, 16.0 yards per catch) are impressive for ten games of work. He had 22 first down receptions, and showed that he was ready to be a #1 receiver in impressive outings against the Dolphins, Vikings, and Jaguars before getting hurt. Chris Henry may have had more receptions, but it's easier to play the slot in a great offense than to be the top threat in a bad offense.

Wide Receiver: Matt Jones, Jaguars

Jones was supposed to be a "project" this season, so his production was somewhat surprising. A converted college quarterback, Jones isn't a great route runner, and opponents caught on to his role as a trick-play specialist early in the year. But he has been a solid third down and red zone threat: 19 of his 28 receptions have yielded first downs, and an acrobatic touchdown against the Steelers helped alter the balance of power in the AFC.

Tight End: Heath Miller, Steelers

The Offensive Rookie of the Year, with all apologies to Cadillac. The Steelers haven't had a receiving threat at tight end since Eric Green left town. Miller provided the Steelers quarterbacks with a much-needed possession receiver over the middle. He ranks ahead of Todd Heap and Alge Crumpler in DPAR, in part because so many of his catches yielded first downs or touchdowns.

Offensive Tackle: Alex Barron, Rams

Michael David Smith profiled Barron in his Every Play Counts column in October, calling Barron one of the most impressive rookie linemen he has ever seen. Barron was a perfect fit in St. Louis, where he joined Orlando Pace to give the team an excellent pair of bookend pass protectors.

Offensive Tackle: Jammal Brown, Saints

Brown labored in obscurity as the Saints traveled the barnstorming circuit. With all of their problems, it was hard to notice that the Saints line was playing relatively well.

Guard: Logan Mankins, Patriots

Mankins stepped into a starting job for the defending champs and was solid if unspectacular. Mankins isn't polished as a run blocker, but Tom Brady's pass protection held together even when Mankins was surrounded by novices like fellow rookie Nick Kaczur.

Guard: Will Whitticker, Packers

A weak selection. Whitticker started every game this season but wasn't very effective, particularly when trying to pull and trap in the running game. He makes the list because there were so few other candidates at guard.

Center: Drew Hodgdon, Texans

There were almost no viable candidates at center. Hodgdon started three games in midseason and wasn't terrible. He may be Houston's starter next season.

Defense

Defensive End: Shaun Cody, Lions

Cody hasn't been flashy this season, but he had big games against the Panthers, Bears, and Vikings. He plays both end and tackle, so he fits well in the All-Rookie lineup as a two-gap 3-4 end.

Defensive Tackle: Luis Castillo, Chargers

The steroid controversy has faded, and the Chargers have found themselves with the type of defensive tackle every team covets. Castillo is strong, alert, and active, penetrates well, and often commands a double team. He was a major factor in the Week 8 win over the Chiefs.

Defensive End: Trent Cole, Eagles

Cole was listed as an outside linebacker in the draft but lines up exclusively in the three-point stance for the Eagles. He saw little playing time early in the season, but came on strong against the Redskins, Cowboys, and Giants in the midseason stretch before everything went kablooie in Philly. He's not suited to every-down duty but should develop into a top pass-rush specialist.

Linebacker: Shawne Merriman, Chargers

When Merriman puts it all together, opposing quarterbacks are in trouble. His quickness and instincts are amazing, but Merriman is still learning to vary his moves and fight off blockers. His sack totals are impressive, but Merriman is also good against the run because he reacts quickly and tackles cleanly.

Linebacker: Lofa Tatupu, Seahawks

Tatupu beat Kirk Morrison for this spot in Week 12 with his 13 tackle performance. Then he returned a pick for a touchdown against the Eagles, intercepted another pass against the Niners, and broke up two more passes against the Colts. Tatupu plays like a veteran; he makes lots of tackles in the backfield or right at the line of scrimmage, but he may be most impressive in pass coverage, where his instincts and recognition skills are outstanding.

Linebacker: Odell Thurman, Bengals

The Defensive Rookie of the Year. Thurman plays the run like Jeremiah Trotter and drops into coverage like Al Wilson. With five interceptions and five more forced fumbles, he was one of the most dangerous defensive playmakers in the NFL this year.

Linebacker: Demarcus Ware, Cowboys.

Ware had four sacks by Week 6 but then went into a long dry spell. Ware didn't twiddle his thumbs for two months. He recorded two tackles for a loss against the Lions, two more against the Giants in Week 13, and grew into a steady run defender. Then he exploded with three sacks and three forced fumbles against the Panthers. The next Lawrence Taylor? Not yet, but Ware would have been Defensive Rookie of the Year in a normal season.

Cornerback: Darrent Williams, Broncos

The Broncos rank 11th in DVOA when stopping their opponents' #1 wideouts and 13th when stopping their #2 wideouts. Nobody is avoiding Champ Bailey to pick on Williams or fellow rookie Domonique Foxworth. Williams is a fine hitter for his size and is a great return man, but his most amazing statistic this year may be the number of times he has been penalized: zero.

Cornerback: Carlos Rogers, Redskins

Rogers replaced Fred Smoot and actually upgraded the Redskins secondary. He played his best game against the Chargers in Week 12 with an interception and three passes defensed, but he has been rock-solid since entering the lineup in Week 4. He has missed two straight games, and the Redskins need him back in the postseason.

Safety: Chris Harris, Bears

A big hitter who's at his best close to the line of scrimmage, Harris can also be effective in coverage: he broke up four passes against the Vikings in Week 6. But with Mike Brown at free safety and two fine cornerbacks in the secondary, Harris is free to act like an extra linebacker. He excels in the role.

Safety: Kerry Rhodes, Jets

One of the Jets' few bright spots this year. Sophomore safety Erik Coleman has regressed, but Rhodes has stepped up as a run defender and sometime blitzer. He doesn't have the instincts of a natural Cover-2 safety yet, but he doesn't make many foolish mistakes.

Special Teams

Kicker: Rob Bironas, Titans

Three of Bironas' six misses came from beyond 50 yards this season. His numbers would look better if the Titans gave him a few more extra points to convert. Bironas was an undrafted free agent. Hint, hint.

Punter: Michael Koenin, Falcons

This has been a big year for punters. Chris Klewe of the Vikings was a close runner up, but Koenin is better at pinning opponents. Plus, he kicked a long field goal.

Kick Returner: Jerome Mathis, Texans

Two fumbles against the Ravens in Week 13 nearly cost Mathis a spot on the All-Rookie Team. But his touchdowns against the Colts and Chiefs, plus great outings against the Titans and Browns, made him one of the Texans' few bright spots this year.

Gunners: (Tie) Brady Poppinga, Packers, and Chase Blackburn, Giants

With Darrent Williams returning punts, we have room for two gunners. Poppinga is one of the league leaders in special teams tackles. Blackburn was a key contributor on one of the league's best special teams units and was starting to show promise on defense before getting hurt against the Redskins.

Honorable Mention:

Running Back: Ronnie Brown, Dolphins.
Wide Receiver: Chris Henry, Bengals; Mark Clayton, Ravens.
Tight End: Alex Smith, Buccaneers; Adam Bergen, Cardinals.
Offensive Line: Michael Roos, Titans; Nick Kaczur, Patriots.
Defensive Line: Chris Canty, Cowboys; C.J. Mosley, Vikings.
Linebacker: Kirk Morrison, Raiders; Derrick Johnson, Chiefs; Channing Crowder, Dolphins; LeRoy Hill, Seahawks.
Secondary: Domonique Foxworth, Broncos; Fabian Washington, Raiders; Ellis Hobbs, Patriots.
Kickers: Mike Nugent, Jets.
Punters: Chris Klewe, Vikings; Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs.
Returners: Tab Perry, Bengals; Chris Carr, Raiders.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 30 Dec 2005

47 comments, Last at 03 Jan 2006, 11:19pm by Björn

Comments

1
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 10:12am

Isn't it Brady Poppinga, or are there two Poppingas in the league?

2
by Stereochemistry (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 10:45am

I know their offensive line isn't much better, but not even a mention of G Dan Buenning for the Bucs? I thought he was doing one of the better jobs along that llne, though granted that might not be that hard.

3
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 11:29am

I'm happy but not surprised that two of Denver's rookie CBs made the list. And to think that there we people blasting Denver for using their first three picks on CBs. That depth has come in handy since both Bailey and Williams have missed games with injuries.

4
by Dennis (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 12:01pm

How can you mention three punters and leave out Ben Graham? He was just as good as those other guys.

5
by jeff (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 12:22pm

Very nice article. This was a great year for rookie defenders, especially at LB. Even the honorable mention LBs had good/great years.

And since we're nominating players from our favorite team who were "snubbed" I'd like to mention Bryant McFadden, CB for the Steelers. He has slowly worked his way into the lineup and is currently the Steelers nickelback. Along the way, he has made some big plays - TD saving INT vs Jax, a sack and forced fumble that resulted in a TD vs GB, a fumble recovery vs CLE and 5 passes defensed.

6
by Andy (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 12:32pm

Ronnie Brown v Cadillac Williams

This is gonna be a fun debate for years to come. By the way, I'm a crazed Dolphin fan.
I think Caddy deserves the ROY, but only cause Gruden is giving him the rock and Ronnie is splitting carries with Ricky. Had the roles been reversed, I think the procution would have been as well.
Ronnie's been great in finishing runs, picking up the blitz, catching the ball, and making great moves in space. My only real knock on him is that he's been caught from behind a couple of times, but after a big run, who can complain. I think the Dolphins picked the right guy.

7
by M (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 1:00pm

Kickers: what about Robbie Gould?

8
by MJK (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 1:02pm

So if there were all these great rookie linebackers this year, why did the Pats have so much trouble finding someone to replace Bruschi and Johnson the last offseason. The Boston media kept repeating "it's a bad draft year for linebackers", and "there are no good rookie linebackers this year", but obviously that doesn't hold water. Did the Pats organization just do a horrible job of evaluating rookie LB talent? Or are they all OLB's, lacking the skills to be ILB's in a 3-4? Or were they all taken in the 1st round before the Pats had a chance to select?

9
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 1:38pm

Not even an honorable mention for Eagles wideout Reggie Brown, who is second among rookie wideouts in receptions (36) and yards (494), most opportunities coming at the hands of the just terrible Mike "40% career pass completion" McMahon?

10
by Mikey (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 1:42pm

So who's your overall rookie of the year, Miller or Thurman?

11
by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 1:44pm

MJK, My read as a Pats fan is that the ILB types available weren't a good value when the Pats were on the clock. I would have loved Merriman, but he wouldn't be replacing Bruschi or Johnson. Ditto Ware, Johnson, and Burnett. Pollack was the candidate most mentioned, but he didn't last that long. The other candidates had issues (Crowder) or figured to be taken deeper in the draft, as 3-4 ILBs aren't a great need for many teams. The Pats did grab Ryan Claridge from UNLV in the 5th with an eye to manning (lowercase) that spot. He's been IR all year. Kirk Morrison was probably targeted for a later pick, but the Raiders made a smart move, in what was called a "reach" at the time. Ditto Tatupu.

It serves to note that it's highly unlikely a rookie will come to the Pats and immediate contribute at ILB. Veterans Chad Brown and Monty Beisel, both with ILB experience, haven't gotten a clear grasp on the responsibilities of the scheme.

12
by Andrew (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 1:46pm

MJK:

ILB's Lofa Tatpu and Odell Thurman were both available in the 1st round for the Patriots. Trent Cole was available on the edge for them (shift Vrabel to the middle, like they've done) up through the 4th round.

13
by Aaron Boden (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 1:47pm

I think Gould has been good, but as he did not play until mid season, I think that would hurt him for this sort of list. Bironas has been much better throughout the season as well.

14
by Nate (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 3:05pm

Although I'm happy to see the Bears' Chris Harris on there (he was the beneficiary of a couple Favre interceptions last week), why didn't the Packers Nick Collins even get an honorable mention? I though he has been impressive.

15
by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 3:17pm

Okay guys, I'm not so sure it is a good idea to go about criticizing New England's drafting. Did their first rounder not make the team? I think the fact that they grabbed a good O-Lineman in a year when FO couldn't find 5 good guys to fill the slots indicates good strategy. As #11 stated, NE grabbed a linebacker, but he got hurt. Also, everyone in the sports world thought that signing Brown and Biesel would take care of everything.

16
by David (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 3:33pm

Besides, even with the injuries, LB was and is a positional strength for the Pats. It wouldn't have made sense to load up there this year, any more than it would have made sense to draft a TE, WR, QB or DL with their first picks. A running back to grow into Old Man Dillon's role, or some defensive backs and offensive linemen made sense.

After all, Matt Light goes down and they had to start the rookies. That's a sign that you drafted to fill a need.

Besides, aren't offensive lineman a relatively cheap hit to the salary cap?

17
by Yakuza Rich (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 4:31pm

What about Dallas DE Chris Canty, who played pretty well all season long. I also wouldn't say Cadillac "hit a wall." He got injured. Big difference.

18
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 4:51pm

Re: Pats and drafting:

At the time of the draft, Ted Johnson was still on the team, so they only thought they were replacing one LB, not two. Plus, I believe that it was always thought that Bruschi would return, so by the end of the year all four starting LBs would be back.

As far as drafting an OLB, most of the depth in the LB position was on the outside; Vrabel, McGinnest, Colvin, Tully Banta-Cain, Chatam. There was no need to fill this position unless a a BPA scenario arose. Not only that, but of the names above, only Chatam wasn't a DE coming out of college. The Pats like their OLB to be able to line up in a down position.

Lastly on LBs, I have read that the roles of the ILB in the Pats system are far more physical that others. ILBs need to be able to take on guards straight up and win the battle. Because of this, they prefer the LB be around 250 lbs and most of the acclaimed LBs in this year's draft are 235ish.

Now, add in the fact that they badly needed secondary help (both CB and S) and OL (even before Light's injury, they had no starter for LG and RT has redently been manned by underwhelming players) it makes sense that they looked elsewhere.

Also, don't discount the fact that they traded 3 picks into the 2006 draft.

19
by Oswlek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 4:53pm

"redently" is recently.

Sorry.

20
by TomC (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 5:41pm

Nice article, Mike. One thought on Bears safety Chris Harris: Technically, he's their free safety, with Brown playing SS. In the Lovie-2 scheme, there isn't a whole lot of difference between the two, but Harris does often end up with the #1 opposing receiver on his half of the field -- at least he did early in the season, with some disastrous results. There was much hand-wringing around week 5 concerning Charles Tillman and his apparent loss of any ability to cover, because there had been 4 long TDs caught behind him in the last 3 games. But those TDs were actually just as much Harris's fault, if not more.

Somehow, that problem has mostly gone away. I'd have to go back over game tape to see if they've moved Harris over to Vasher's side of the field, or if Harris has just gotten much, much better at reading routes.

21
by Kibbles (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 6:05pm

Re #3: Remember when Mike Shanahan couldn't draft CBs? When are people finally going to acknowledge the role random chance plays in personnel decisions?

22
by johnw (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 6:40pm

Merriman had "a" terrific game on national tele, however, that doesn't qualify you for a terrific year. Did I see his name on the top 100 tackle list? Secondly, Tatupu and thrmans stats are similar in tackles with Tatupu having a substantial advantage in solos. Thurman has the advantage in Forced fumbles and 5-3 in interceptions. Tatupu is the leader of the a seattle defense that has seen complete turnover since last year and so the award "droty" goes to him.

23
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 6:43pm

22: Gross tackle numbers are a lousy way to judge a linebacker or any other defensive player.

24
by Benji (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 7:04pm

First pick in every round and nobody good enough for the all-rookie team? God my 49ers suck.

25
by charles (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 7:13pm

Good call, putting carlos rogers on the team, the difference between him and walt harris is immeasurable

26
by Sam B (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 7:19pm

I know he seems to have slipped a lot after his good start, but surely you'd take Frye over Orton for QB? Or am I blindly homering?

27
by johnw (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 8:11pm

23) Don't be stupid, tackling and leadership are the primary responsibility of the MLB. Sacks and pass coverage are important but secondary in importance.

28
by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 8:57pm

RE: #27

Nobody is saying that LB's aren't supposed to tackle. However, imagine this scenario. The Minnesota Vikings have 2 outside linebackers of equal talent and physical attributes. The Vikings have an amazing left tackle and a fantastic left end. However, the Vikings have an abysmal right tackle and a man with no arms and one leg playing right end. If linebacker A plays on the right side and linebacker B plays on the left side, who is going to have more tackles?

29
by Ron Mexico (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 9:03pm

Re:#27

Of course, tackles stats tend to be pretty iffy with regards to their accuracy. I imagine that you could look in 3 or 4 different places and get 3 or 4 different tackle totals.

Secondly, high tackle totals can also indicate that the other players on defense aren't very good...

30
by Green Bay Bob (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 9:09pm

After reading your list, one name that was overlooked was a glaring omission. The Packers #1 rated pass defense is due to, in large part, the play of S Nick Collins, who may be the defense's MVP. He played well in both run support and pass coverage, and provided some fire that has been missing in the Packer secondary for some time.

31
by Tom (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 9:13pm

Now granted, comparing players in football is pretty foolish as teammates and schemes make a huge difference but saying one player is better than another by saying that he has more solo tackles is about the dumbest thing I've seen. Turnovers are infinitely more important than tackles. And let's face it, defensive TDs are mostly luck -- hugely dependent on where on the field you create the turnover. Pick off the screen pass on their 20 you are going all the way, pickoff the quick slant near your endzone, nothing.

32
by Björn (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 9:49pm

I would say that Green Bay's #22 rated pass defence sucks.

Their "#1" pass defence is due to their "#49" rated rush defence. I say 49 because it might be worse than all the teams in the CFL, and many Arena and NFL Europe teams.

33
by ski (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 12:50am

I'm with stereochemistry on this one, you guys made a mistake by not including Dan Buenning from the bucs on this list. he's started every game and should edge out whittaker because he blocked for a thousand yard rusher.

34
by Teximu (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 1:49am

Heh, I like the thought of Trent Cole as a 3-4 defensive end. 6'3", 260 pounds... :)

(Yeah, I know you needed to make room for all the good linebackers. Still, it brought a smile to my face.)

35
by Jay B. (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 2:08am

#34: I didn't notice, until you pointed it out, that the defensive All-Rookie Team is a 3-4. Interesting because I believe that Tanier's favorite team is the Eagles, who use a 4-3 defense (where Cole fits in quite well at DE, obviously).

36
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 2:49am

Re #21: It seemed like many of Shanny's CB picks were random. Actually Deltha O'Neil (sp?) turned into a pretty reasonable CB once he left Denver but most of the others have pretty well sucked. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and one (or two, or three) of Denver's CBs decide that they don't need to play one game. It will probably be the AFC CG against the Colts. Then again, they might all show up and actually slow down the air attack from heck. Ahhhh, the joys of being a Bronco fan.

37
by Potomac Drainage Basin Indigenous Person (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 7:02am

PerlStalker (36)-- As a Redskins fan living in the Denver TV area, I have had more fun watching the Donkeys this year than any year post-Elway. I guess your sights may be set on beating the Colts in the playoffs, but Shanahan seems to be coaching like he hasn't since he's been Offical Head Coach/GM/Dictator-for-Life. Did you catch any of the preseason, watching Karl Paymah play like a bonehead, but Williams/Foxworth play like veterans? I love watching players progress right in front of us, rather than the Old Shanny teams with the same average players every year no matter how they played. Just wait until Bradlee Van Pelt takes over for Plummer and is handing off to Cecil Sapp, like old times!

38
by PerlStalker (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 12:30pm

#37: Oh is has been fun watching the payers progress. I was a bit worried when Foxworth was starting last week, but he seemed to have a good handle on Randy Moss and has done a good job on the other receivers he's covered.

I was very impressed with the progress Van Pelt made this off season. If he progresses that much again next year, I think he could be well positioned to be the starter in 2007.

You're right about Shanny. His playcalling (and that of his DC) is much less ... timid, than it was the last few seasons. I don't know if he didn't have the faith in his team to do what he wanted or what. Then again, maybe the last few seasons are what Denver considers rebuilding years.

39
by MikeT (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 1:06pm

I should have put Buenning on the list. I think the Bucs offensive line was playing so poorly when I started researching (around Weeks 10-11) that I didn't investigate him properly.

Reggie Brown, Nick Collins, Chris Canty, and Robbie Gould are all worthy of honorable mention, and we could probably name a dozen others.

40
by CaffeineMan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 1:54pm

A little late to the party and Oswlek already pointed it out but: Ted Johnson decided to retire with no warning, just before training camp opened. I think it was out of concern for previous concussions. In terms of the timing, it was effectively a training camp injury, so there was no chance to address the hole in the draft.

41
by Rollo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 2:06pm

Nice article. I think the Jags' Khalif Barnes is easily one of the top two tackles rookie tackles myself - he's allowed only two sacks and the offensive has been dramatically improved since he's begun starting, and he held Freeney statless in Jacksonville (though thats easier to do on grass of course). Its been an amazing year for rookie linebackers - I wonder what kind of statistical influence the defensive line has on linebacker play, as we seem to have pretty good rookie linebacking play every draft. Its a shame Tatupu doesn't get more recognition, he's been a big difference maker for Seattle's D.

42
by Ernest Moseley (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 2:25pm

We can keep 1 rookie for next year for free. Should I keep RB JJ Arrington of Arizona, or Matt Jones WR of Jacksonville,
or A. Rodgers QB of the Packers, or QB C. Frye of the Browns? Please help. Believe me - any advice you can provide will be greatly apprechiated.Please reply.
Thank you for your time & effort,
Ernest Moseley

43
by Rollo (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 2:32pm

Ernest -

Depends on your QB situation. I think Frye offers the best value overall, but if you have a solid QB you'll want more value on the edges at WR/RB. The Browns offer long term potential with a decent line, a good looking #1 WR in Edwards, hardnosed running from Droughns, and hopefully stellar TE play from Winslow. Despite all that, its still hoping the Browns turn their offense around, so Frye probably won't unseat your starter next year. I think Jones offers the most potential next year - his production has dropped off with Garrard at QB, but he's shown decent hands and good speed. He has shown an aversion to contact, which is potentially troubling, but he has the most upside out of any WR imo, and could easily be a starter in Jacksonville's somewhat lackluster WR corps next year.

44
by Israel (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 4:24pm

Bjorn (16) says Also, everyone in the sports world thought that signing Brown and Biesel would take care of everything.

I don't know about "everyone." The Steelers considered both in the offseason and passed on them even as backups. Not just because of the money.

45
by Nick (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 5:34pm

Barron does seem to be a real road grader but last I checked he had 15 penalties, most in the NFL:

8 False Starts
4 Offensive Holds
1 Chop Block
1 Illegal Use of Hands
1 Illegal Touch

Leonard Davis is second with 13 - but 15 seems excessive as I believe he didn't even start the first few games of the season?

46
by Andrew (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:06am

Braylon Edwards 32 for 512, 3 TD
Matt Jones 36 for 432, 5 TD, 12 rush for 51
Chris Henry 31 for 422, 6 TD
Mark Clayton 44 for 471, 2 TD, 8 rush for 33, 1 TD
Reggie Brown 43 for 571, 4 TD, 1 rush for 5

Again, why no love for Reggie?

47
by Björn (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 11:19pm

Braylon Edwards: +11.3 % DVOA; 54% catch rate
Chris Henry: +4.1% DVOA; 62% catch rate
Matt Jones: -6.1% DVOA; 52% catch rate
Reggie Brown: -14.5% DVOA; 51% catch rate
Mark Clayton: -24.5% DVOA; 51% catch rate

Hope that cleared things up.