Top NFL offensive rookies

Top NFL offensive rookies

The future is bright for the National Football League. At almost the midway point of the 2013 NFL season, teams have an idea of which first year players will contribute. Rookies, whether drafted or undrafted out of college, often times have a difficult time making rosters and getting playing time.

The past few seasons, it seems as if there is more talent coming out of college football to the NFL than ever before. Last season was the year of the quarterback, with Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin III all making playoff appearances. This year the only three rookie quarterbacks have emerged with significant playing time. All of them have played like typical rookies, some good games and others not so much. Geno Smith has played the best of the first year quarterbacks this season, showing flashes of greatness. Against the Falcons on a Monday Night game, he has a passer rating of 147.7 with three passing touchdowns. The following game he completed less than half of his passes and had two interceptions. This goes to show his inconsistency. I don’t think Geno will ever be an elite NFL QB, but he can get the job done for the always overrated New York Jets.
Other notables: Mike Glennon (Bucaneers), E.J. Manuel (Bills)

Running Back
Every football team needs a ground game to complement its passing game. This season, our hometown Cincinnati Bengals, actually made a smart pick in the draft for a change. Drafting the former University of North Carolina fireplug, Giovanni Bernard, has paid huge dividends for the offense. Bernard’s ability to catch out of the backfield, as well as running the ball with crazy elusiveness makes him a homerun threat on every play. His skills as both a runner and receiver have added a new weapon the Bengals offense. Through seven games Bernard has 497 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. I think we will continue to see Bernard have increased production and receive more snaps on offense as the season progresses.
Other notables: Eddie Lacy (Packers), Le’Veon Bell (Steelers), Zac Stacy (Rams)

Wide Receiver/ Tight End

With Tom Brady and the Patriots losing top wide receiver Wes Welker to the Broncos and tight ends Aaron Hernandez to federal prison on murder charges and Rob Gronkowski for almost half of the season with nagging injuries, they needed someone to step up in the passing game. Undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins emerged as a replacement. This was completely out of the blue, as he wasn’t even drafted out of college. Many Cincinnati fans knew he had the talent, since he was a receiver for the UC bearcats last season. Thompkins is second on his team with 23 receptions for 334 yards. His four touchdowns lead any player on the Patriots. One of them happens to be a game winning touchdown against the Saints. I think Thompkins can be an all-star receiver someday. He has the size, speed, and hands to be something special down the road. Maybe the Patriots have found their star as the top receiver.

Tyler Eifert has been the best rookie tight end in my opinion. The first round draft pick adds a great receiving threat to the Bengals offense that can block exceptionally for the run game. Eifert has great size and speed, so putting him in two tight end sets across from Jermaine Gresham has been crucial for Cincinnati. His 22 receptions for 270 yards and a touchdown have made life easier for quarterback Andy Dalton. Eifert has the potential to be a top tight end in the league, with his many similarities to Elder grad Kyle Rudolph.
Other notables: DeAndre Hopkins (Texans), Cordarrelle Patterson (Vikings), Tavon Austin (Rams)

Offensive Line
The offensive line is the home to the rookies who are often times very good and help their teams win games, but don’t get the credit they deserve with the fans. The top offensive line rookie in the NFL up to this point of his first season has been the Bears Kyle Long. The massive right guard is taking advantage of his athleticism, strength, and smarts to make him not only the best rookie on the Chicago line, but the centerpiece of a good line. The rookie has not given up a sack on the season and creates huge hole for his pro bowl running back Matt Forte to run through. I think lineman are underrated and overlooked by the average fan and need to be given credit. Without talented rookie lineman coming into the league each year, quarterbacks would not have as much time to throw and running backs wouldn’t have holes to hit.
Other notables: Larry Warford (Lions), Travis Frederick (Cowboys)

Rookies add a new dimension to the NFL every season and are fun to watch develop over time for your favorite teams. While these are just my opinions on the top rookies at each position on offense, I think all fans can agree that without them their teams would not be as good. The NFL draft is a great opportunity for franchises to improve their roster.