Rookie Review: Part 1

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Cam Newton, QB Panthers

Newton has exploded in the first two weeks, completing 62.6 percent of his passes for over 850 yards. While most (myself included) were quick to write off Newton’s big performance in week 1 against the Cardinals; he was able to duplicate his performance today against a much stiffer Packers defense. Now these big games were not without some problems, and I don’t expect Newton to throw for 400 yards every week; but with that said, he has been very impressive. Newton is showing good awareness in the pocket and impressive downfield accuracy. The Panthers are quickly seeing the potential star they have at quarterback, but need to be careful of overusing him. Cam is averaging over 40 passing attempts per game on an offense that has DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. The Panthers need to become a more balanced offense, and not place so much on Newton’s shoulders. As the season progresses look for defenses to be more effective against Newton as they now have tape to study.

Nate Solder, RT Patriots

Playing on the offensive line makes it much more difficult to evaluate a rookie on paper, but Solder’s tape does all the talking for him. Go back and watch the game against the Dolphins and watch Solder neutralize Cameron Wake for most of the game. Wake is one the game’s premier, pass rushers and Solder played like a seasoned veteran against him. At 6’8”, 320 lbs, it’s easy to get enamored with Solders physical tools but he also showed impressive technique against elite pass rushers. The Patriots offensive line, which was originally viewed as a potential weakness this season, has looked in top form thanks to the addition of Solder. It’s early, but Belichick may have gotten another pro bowl caliber offensive lineman.

Julio Jones, WR Falcons

One of the biggest stories on draft day was the movement the Falcons made to acquire Julio Jones. By trading 5 picks, the Falcons were able to jump 21 positions from #27 to #6 and select the Alabama wide receiver. This is easily one of the biggest draft day moves in recent memory, and so far it’s looking like a good move. Jones is a speedy, rangy receiver who is complimenting Roddy White very well. Jones still needs to work on his route running and reliability catching the ball. I expect both of these to develop over time. The Falcons are using Jones in a variety of ways and it would not shock me to see Jones put up over 1,000 yards receiving in his rookie season.