Craig Farrell predicts the top three performing rookies in each position for the NFL season. Up first we look at the quarterbacks.
Who will become the next face of a franchise, or even of American Football itself? The fame is sometimes fleeting but for some it lasts a lifetime. The one thing that the lifelong star or flash in the pan shared was, they all started as a rookie.
Here is the rookie rating list for the upcoming season which will predict the top three performing rookies for the upcoming NFL season. First up, we look at the quarterbacks.
1. Blake Bortles – Jacksonville Jaguars
The future star QB of the Jaguars has the best mechanics of all the rookie QB’s from the 2014 draft class. He has also found himself landing on his feet in terms of the situation he was drafted into. The Jaguars are coming off the back of a horrendous season, so expectations are low.
The starting QB is Chad Henne – who is reliable but is by no means a franchise quarterback. Bortles is also fortunate based on the Jaguars’ history. Since being inducted into the league in 1995 the QB core has been less than impressive. Their first ever passer, Mark Brunell, is as big a name as it gets in terms of Jaguar QB, so Bortles will not face any outlandish comparisons to previous greats.
The wide receiving core is decent with Cecil Shorts III, Ace Sanders and fellow rookie Marqise Lee. Bortles will also have the big bruiser, Toby Gerhart to hand the ball off to which will take away some of the strain of passing the ball.
2. Teddy Bridgewater – Minnesota Vikings
Bridgewater was definitely the most fortunate rookie QB in terms of the team in where he landed. Teddy has a great O-line to work behind. He has one of the league’s leading running backs to allow control the tempo of the game. He is also spoiled with a set of receivers that the other rookie QBs would be envious of.
Greg Jennings is a powerful possession receiver with strong hands, while Cordarrelle Patterson is pure speed and will offer Bridgewater a deep target to air it out to. Tight end Kyle Rudolph is set for a big season and will offer Bridgewater further receiving options. And the threat he poses with his mobility hasn’t even been mentioned.
The only issue the former Louisville star will have will be how long it takes him to get into the starting role. Matt Cassel will start the season, and if Cassel can get the Vikings rolling early on Mike Zimmer may opt to keep a good thing going.
3. Johnny Manziel – Cleveland Browns
Johnny Football has great potential but sadly his season will be determined based on things outside of his control. Unfortunately for the Texas A&M QB NFL receiving yard leader, Josh Gordon went and got himself suspended for the season. The Browns front office then passed up on numerous wideouts in the draft and instead decided to hit free agency to resolve their WR core issues.
Miles Austin was brought in, which could be a great move by Cleveland if the former Cowboy can remain healthy. If Andrew Hawkins can perform to a high level Manziel will have two potentially big targets to hit. Jordan Cameron was on fire in the first half of last season then he cooled off – Manziel will need the first-half Cameron to show up for all of this season.
Ben Tate was offered the running back position in Cleveland and questions remain over his ability to lead the rushing attack for the Browns for the entire season. There is no doubt the Manziel will be under center for the Brown, and it will probably be prior to the team’s bye week, but he needs a lot of circumstances to fall right for him. But Johnny Football has a tendency of creating his own luck and thats what the Browns need.
Let Down: Jimmy Garoppolo – New England Patriots
The simple fact is Garoppolo won’t throw a single pass in his rookie season. Unless Tom Brady suffers a serious injury Garoppolo will be stuck carrying the playbook on the sidelines. The former Eastern Illinois QB is seen as the future heir to Brady’s throne, however nothing will occur this season on the field for Jimmy. The trade of Mallet to the Texans speaks volumes for Garoppolo’s stock in New England but an injury-free Brady will mean a gameless season for Garoppolo. The tough AFC conference will ensure that Brady remains in the starting lineup even after the Pats tie up their division as New England will want to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Craig Farrell, Pundit Arena.