This week's Have at It might not have drawn a clear distinction between candidates for league-wide Rookie of the Year awards and the topic we were focused on: Your nomination for the best rookie in the NFC North for 2010.
We had two national contenders last season in Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin and Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, and I agree it's going to be difficult to match that number this year. But by rule, one of our rookies will play better than the rest of his divisional competitors, and that's what I want to concentrate on.
Much of the debate centered on Detroit's pair of first-round draft picks, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and running back Jahvid Best. The consensus was that it might be difficult to gauge Suh's success from a statistical perspective, which will make it harder to judge his impact. "D-linemen generally take a year to get up to speed, and even if Suh is great, he's not likely to be a sack machine," wrote EveryoneNeedsASmile. (And yes, everyone does.)
Ranial_Cheddar doesn't trust Best to stay healthy for 16 games, given his frightening concussion last year, but Liqourish wants us to avoid overthinking the obvious:
I think Jahvid Best has the best chance. Jahvid will be the Lions' featured back right out of the gate. Jim Schwartz has talked about using Jahvid in a variety of ways in the offense. All RBs need to do is have a lot of all-purpose yards and they are among the top candidates. If Best is used enough, it should be his for the taking.
More people talked up Minnesota's Toby Gerhart than I anticipated. Cmwernick320 envisions a high ceiling for success in the Vikings' established offense:
He's in the best position to have the most success and have a role-defined impact for the Vikings. The fact that he's entering an environment that has already produced two ROY's in the last three years says a lot about the doors this team can open for him.
Nabicus, meanwhile, believes the fumble problems of Vikings starter Adrian Peterson will allow Gerhart to "steal goal-line carries and score 10 TD's this year." Peterson had 18 rushing touchdowns in 2009.
Finally, I saw a few too many pleas for Minnesota's sixth-round pick, Joe Webb. Stringer1211 thinks Webb "will make an impact at WR/RB/Wildcat QB," and a number of you agreed.
I don't want to dash anyone's hopes, but let's consider the reality of what he's attempting: A transition from quarterback to receiver on the pro level. If body type and jumping ability were the only attributes necessary for success, we would have a much bigger pool from which to choose NFL receivers. Webb has some definite tools, but I think we need to tone down the excitement for a bit.
My take? First, let's assume everyone gets into training camp relatively on time and without any kind of contract dispute that impacts conditioning or preparation. If that's the case, I believe Suh is going to be the best rookie player in the NFC North this season. I'm not sure if we will have a statistical basis for that claim, but we don't need 1,000 yards or 10 touchdowns or eight interceptions to bestow our version of this award.
I'm not down on Best at all and believe he will lead the Lions in rushing. But the value Suh brings, even if it's not double-digit sacks, will be far-reaching for Detroit's weakest area of 2009. We discussed those attributes last month during the draft, but in short I think Suh will be a player opponents will have to account for -- and ultimately avoid -- on every play. That will help the rest of the Lions' defensive line, along with their linebackers and defensive backs as well.