Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Which draft pick will make biggest impact
By Mike Sando
Arizona Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd was fifth and Seattle Seahawks pass-rusher Bruce Irvin sixth on John Clayton's list of 10 new draft choices likely to make the greatest immediate impact.
"Floyd's presence may force defenses into more zone coverages, because it will be hard to double Larry Fitzgerald and match up man-to-man against Floyd," Clayton theorized. "Irvin is probably the draft's best pass-rusher and should put up double-digit sack numbers early in his career."
Let's consider that a launching point for a discussion EDTGO jump-started from his luxury box in the comments section of an earlier item on Arizona's draft thinking.
"Floyd will be starting and will have the best position of the rookies to get stats," he wrote.
Rookie receivers making at least 10 starts from 2009 through last season averaged 46 receptions for 721 yards and five touchdowns, according to Pro Football Reference. Cincinnati's A.J. Green and Tampa Bay's Mike Williams had the most receptions of the group (65 apiece). Green, Williams and Julio Jones each topped 900 yards. Those three joined Torrey Smith as the only ones with more than six touchdown receptions.
We shouldn't forget about St. Louis Rams second-round receiver Brian Quick. He has a good chance at starting. The Rams thought Quick reminded them of Terrell Owens from a physical standpoint. Owens had 35 catches for 520 yards and four touchdowns as a rookie, making 10 starts.
The status for San Francisco 49ers first-round receiver A.J. Jenkins could be tougher to define initially. He could wind up starting if the Randy Moss experiment does not work out. He could also ease into the role, getting fewer opportunities as the 49ers run their offense through other players primarily.
Double-digit sacks from Irvin might be enough to eclipse for impact the projected receiving numbers from Floyd, Quick or Jenkins.
Five rookies since 2009 have collected at least 10 sacks. San Francisco's Aldon Smith, with 14 sacks last season, was the only one to do so as a backup. Von Miller, Brian Orakpo, Clay Matthews and Ndamukong Suh -- all first-round choices, as were Smith and Irvin -- reached double digits in sacks while starting at least 13 games.
Carlos Dunlap had 9.5 sacks in 12 games, none of them starts, for Cincinnati in 2010.
Irvin should benefit from the Seahawks' very specific plans for him. The team got nine sacks in zero starts from Raheem Brock in 2010. Irvin will play a similar role and a similar percentage of the snaps, giving him a very good chance to eclipse Brock's total -- if he's talented enough to produce those numbers. Brock played about 50 percent of the snaps for Seattle in each of the last two seasons.
Who else deserves our consideration?
"Janoris Jenkins has a shot ... assuming he can keep his head on straight," ramm428a wrote.
"Yep," randdles wrote, "Jenkins will get to face five of the top QBs this year, he could make a big impact."
Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III, Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are among the high-profile quarterbacks Jenkins, a second-round cornerback with first-round talent, will face in his initial season with the Rams. Jenkins will face those quarterbacks by Week 8, giving him a chance to shape perceptions early.
Devin McCourty and Joe Haden are the only drafted cornerbacks to exceed five interceptions as rookies over the past three seasons.
"Michael Brockers could have a huge impact," JohnnyP3180 wrote of the Rams' first-round choice. "Not flashy, but he could make the biggest difference for his team."
That might be true, but as a run stuffer, Brockers probably won't accumulate the stats players often need to draw acclaim. We'll be sure to monitor Brockers' contributions closely regardless.