Rookie Review: Part 2

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Andy Dalton, QB Bengals

Easily one of the biggest surprises of this year has been the success of TCU’s Andy Dalton. Dalton has helped lead the Bengals to a 7-4 record, and on the verge of securing a wildcard spot in the AFC. While Dalton’s numbers have not been spectacular this year, they are better than I expected. Currently, Dalton has thrown for over 2,500 yards, completing over 60 percent of his passes, with 16 touchdowns. Dalton has also thrown 12 interceptions, which bring his overall rating down, but the most important number to observe is wins. Victories are the driving force in the NFL and Dalton has more wins than some prominent veterans (Rivers, Vick, Sanchez, Freeman, and Eli Manning). Coming out of TCU, Dalton was not viewed as a quarterback with immediate impact ability. TCU runs a very manageable scheme, where the quarterback is not asked to make many difficult throws. Coupled with his perceived lack of arm strength, Dalton was viewed more as a project/developmental quarterback. Despite the naysayers, Dalton has put together an impressive season and is making a run at the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. I think it’s safe to say that Dalton was a great pick and will keep Bengals competitive for many years.

AJ Green, WR Bengals

Helping to make Andy Dalton’s success possible is his favorite new weapon, AJ Green. Green has lived up to the hype coming out of Georgia and has shown himself to be a future dominant player in the NFL. Green has pulled in 44 passes this year for 750 yards and 6 touchdowns, many of these on passes over 20 yards. This last statistic is Green’s most impressive number so far. Coming out of Georgia, Green was hailed as the greatest receiver to come out of college since Calvin Johnson. Specifically, Green was noted for being a big play receiver with great route running ability. Green has lived up to these reports so far as he has shown the ability to continuously get open downfield against top-notch defenders. The perfect example of this came against the Pittsburgh Steelers; Green was double covered on a long pass and was able to beat Troy Polamalu to haul in a touchdown. It is exactly this type of big play ability that will make Green a force to be reckoned with in the future. I see no reason why Green cannot emerge as one of top five wide receivers in the league going forward.

Patrick Peterson, CB Cardinals

Just like Green, Patrick Peterson was touted as one of the best players at his position to come along in many years. Peterson has struggled somewhat at cornerback this year, but has more than made up for this on special teams. Peterson has combined his two interceptions with four special teams returns for touchdowns. Not only that, all of Peterson’s touchdowns have come from over 80 yards. This a new rookie record, and there is plenty more to come from Peterson. Peterson’s combination of size and speed make him a force to be feared, and I believe we have only begun to scratch the surface on this electrifying player. Rookies traditionally struggle at the cornerback position, and I expect Peterson to improve dramatically over the next few years. If Peterson is able to become more patient in coverage, his physical tools will do the rest. I believe we are looking at an Antonio Cromartie type of player (minus the kids), who will continue to light up screens on Sundays. Keep your eye on Peterson in special teams as well, as many are beginning to compare him to Devin Hester.