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Sporting News: Offensive Rookie of the Year Jackson?

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by TOPHAT, Aug 7, 2007.


    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Mar 1, 2007

    Rookie of the year pick: Jackson By Vinnie Iyer SportingNews

    Fans and players alike have complained about the length of the NFL's preseason, and more specifically, the duration of training camp and the number of exhibition games played. But one of the more exciting developments in the thorough process is the progress of rookies. Rookies are more than the next class of potential league-wide stars; they represent the annual hope that any team has the chance to enjoy a quick turnaround with a good draft. The Saints used a great draft to boost themselves last season, especially on offense, where running back Reggie Bush, wide receiver Marques Colston and guard Jahri Evans become key contributors.

    Looking at some other '06 NFL playoff teams, the Colts (Joseph Addai), Bears (Devin Hester), Patriots (Laurence Maroney), Chargers (Marcus McNeill), Chiefs (Tamba Hali), Ravens (Haloti Ngata) and Jets (D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Leon Washington) were all helped significantly by rookies. That's not including the promise that Vince Young, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jay Cutler, A.J. Hawk, Matt Leinart, Vernon Davis and DeMeco Ryans showed for non-playoff teams.

    So the 2007 rookie class has a difficult act to follow, but it can hold its own talent-wise with several intriguing offensive skill players and playmaking defenders leading the way. On to the big question: Before the season kicks off, who are the best bets to succeed Young and Ryans as respective offensive and defensive rookies of the year? Of course, we're talking football, so let's rank them 1-11 on each side of the ball. Today, I'll throw out my 10-deep offense. I'll come back to tackle the rookie defenders on Wednesday.

    1. Brandon Jackson, RB, Packers. Other than talent, a rookie needs immediate opportunities to make a huge impact. No one in the '07 offensive class has a better opportunity to see the ball 20 times a game right from Week 1 than Jackson. Jackson's main competition, Vernand Morency, has a knee injury that seems to be only getting worse in reports. Jackson also has been a quick learner in the passing game -- albeit much quicker as a pass-catcher than as a blocker -- to go with the fine running skills that got him selected in late Round 2. That should keep him on the field often to take advantage of both the Packers' favorable zone-blocking scheme and receiver-friendly formations. More on that pass-blocking: The concern is natural with any rookie back, and Jackson will improve with time. Green Bay also has finished among the top five in fewest sacks allowed in each of the past four years. Its offensive system is efficient in keeping Brett Favre upright; he was sacked 21 times on his league-leading 613 attempts last season.

    2. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills. I liked Jackson a little more than Lynch at draft time, but overall, they are similarly built and similarly versatile. Lynch also has a similar opportunity to be featured in Buffalo's backfield, but the Bills have more alternatives, including Dick Jauron favorite Anthony Thomas and another rookie, Dwayne Wright. Green Bay will be more balanced and more competitive, so Jackson gets more touches in an important role in the second half of games.

    3. Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions. Jon Kitna is talking big at the controls of Mike Martz's offense, and it's true the combination of Roy Williams and Johnson streaking downfield creates a nightmare matchup for every secondary. I can see Johnson easily breaking out for something like 1,200 yards and eight scores, but it's hard to expect more because: A) Williams will be the No. 1 receiver for at least one more year; b) 93-catch man Mike Furrey won't be forgotten in the slot; and c) Kitna will not be having "50 TDs" to throw around. Remember, the Lions gave up 63 sacks and gave up the ball 39 times last season -- those numbers tend to mess with the true output of a passing game.

    4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Vikings. Peterson was drafted like he was the best running back in this class and will prove that to be true; it just may not happen this year. Because both he and incumbent Chester Taylor tend to get banged up, it's better for both backs and the team if Peterson and Taylor help keep each other rested, especially to help out a passing game led by a developing Tarvaris Jackson. I expect Peterson to reel off some big runs if he stays healthy, but the consistent top-flight back will come only in '08.

    5. Zach Miller, TE, Raiders. Most of the rookie tight end buzz has been about the Bears' Greg Olsen and his phenomenal athleticism. But again, it comes down to the opportunity to showcase yourself, and Miller, the best all-round rookie tight end, steps into what was previously a Black Hole at his position in Oakland. In Lane Kiffin's version of the West Coast offense, the tight end option will be key, and considering the shaky durability of the team's wide receivers and either newcomer at quarterback, Daunte Culpepper or JaMarcus Russell, needing to lean on a security blanket, Miller is bound to be very busy in the passing game.

    6. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs. Bowe will have a good chance to start at wide receiver opposite veteran Eddie Kennison. What's likely to hold him back from breaking the top five is the uncertainty at quarterback and a conservative offense that leans heavily on the running game. Where Bowe can make his mark with his 6-2, 217-pound frame, is playing off Kennison on the perimeter and tight end Tony Gonzalez down the seam to emerge as a big possession/red zone threat.

    7. Sidney Rice, WR, Vikings. We already know Peterson has an unproven quarterback; his supporting cast at wide receiver isn't established, either. Troy Williamson must break out of his two-year funk, and Bobby Wade is a journeyman. That keeps the door open for Rice to be a perimeter starter. The key will be Rice developing a good rookie/first-year starter rapport with Tarvaris Jackson. Rice's production probably will be too sporadic, however, in an unfavorable situation the opposite of Calvin Johnson's.

    8. Craig Davis, WR, Chargers. San Diego's offense has proved to be prolific with the combination of LaDainian Tomlinson, Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates; it's just waiting for a wide receiver to complete the quartet. All eyes are on big third-year man Vincent Jackson to be that threat. But with his speed and a 6-1, 202-pound frame that nicely complements the 6-5, 242-pound Jackson, Davis is one to watch. And now a great opportunity is knocking in camp as starter Eric Parker misses 10 days with a toe injury. If Davis starts all season, he is the sneaky bet to be the No. 2 rookie receiver producer behind Johnson.

    9. Steve Smith, WR, Giants. It's been tough for Smith to get into the spotlight. At Southern California, Dwayne Jarrett was the marquee wide receiver. In the NFL, he's about to be known as that other wide receiver named Steve Smith -- the "original" just happens to be Jarrett's teammate in Carolina. But so far Smith is doing in camp what 2006 draftee Sinorice Moss couldn't do last year -- dazzle in every which way as the spark at No. 3 receiver the Giants so desperately need. Smith is making a strong case to be on the field often, and with 33-to-be Amani Toomer coming off a knee injury, Smith may get his share of big-play chances opposite Plaxico Burress.

    10. Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts. The former Ohio State star, with his combination of smarts, quickness and route-running, is the ideal receiver to work out of the slot along with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. It's not totally out of the question, then, that Gonzalez produces like Brandon Stokley did (1,007 yards, 10 TDs) in the No. 3 role in 2004. The Colts are expected to use more three-wide than they did in '06, but it's unclear who will be the busier No. 3 option, Gonzalez or top tight end Dallas Clark.
  2. TOPackerFan

    TOPackerFan Cheesehead

    Dec 8, 2004
    I can't say I'm not surprised by that. I always thought it would be Calvin Johnson followed by Marshawn Lynch or Adrian Peterson (asusming he stays healthy). I hope this prediction is right.
  3. pack_in_black

    pack_in_black Cheesehead

    Aug 15, 2006
    Nice to see some love here, but I've thought that Sporting News is washed up for some time now. It is a comfort, though, that the mention of Jackson's lack of blocking is a bit of the norm for rookie rb's, and should improve.
  4. tromadz

    tromadz Cheesehead

    Aug 15, 2005
    I agree, that nobody will have more oppurtunities than Jackson. His main competition is injured right now, he's an early pick, and will get a shot. The hard part is up to him now.
  5. warhawk

    warhawk Cheesehead

    Dec 7, 2005
    Wow. Logical imput from a sports reporter. Wonders never cease.

    Jackson, by virtue of opportunity, leads the way. I would have thought they would have solidified their case by mentioning a more effective "0" line along with the favorable zone-system blurb.

    If he does outdo Lynch and Harrell performs well it will be a coup for us in terms of the draft.
  6. porky88

    porky88 Cheesehead

    Mar 10, 2006
    I think Jackson is top 5 for sure. Chris Henry should be on the list from the Titans as well in my opinion.

    I would probably say

    1. Marshawn Lynch

    2. Calvin Johnson

    3. Brandon Jackson

    4. Adrian Peterson

    5. Dwayne Bowe

    Just my two cents but it was great to finally see the media give props to Jackson as it seems like all I hear about is the Packers are doomed because Ahman Green is gone.
  7. all about da packers

    all about da packers Cheesehead

    Jun 5, 2005
    I think the blitz protection problems are being blown out of proportion a tad bit.

    McCarthy has made protecting the QB a top priority of his. He did it last year with rookies on the o-line.

    I truly believe that if B-Jack is the best RB for the Packers to start, and his blitz pick-up skills are below par, McCarthy will adjust to the situation.

    He'll find a way to make sure we are not burned on blitzes when Jackson is in the backfield.

    I think teams will be testing B-Jack very early on in the season with blitzes. It seems everyone and their momma knows B-Jack is struggling in that dept., so it looks like MM and B-Jack will have to show their stuff early, and maybe often.
  8. Raider Pride

    Raider Pride Cheesehead

    Jul 17, 2005
    Prove you are a Packer Fan Trom. Prove it!

    If you are, you will draft him as your starting RB on your fantasy team.

    Well? Are you?


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