Rookie Meter: Patriots, Bucs impacted by rooks
With a win in Week 16 Sale Alpinestars Motorcycle Jackets - Cheap Alpinestars Jackets Store, the Buccaneers became the first team since the NFL merger to start 10 different rookies at some point in the season and finish with a winning record. The Bucs received a big impact from rookies, even with a few of their top picks landing on injured reserve.
Here are the teams that have gotten the most out of their rookie class this season, giving credit to teams that had impacts from multiple rookies, not just one.
1. New England Patriots
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
3. St. Louis Rams
The turnaround Rams have the Offensive Rookie of the Year being protected by a rookie at left tackle. Sam Bradford is on the verge of possibly leading the Rams into the playoffs and broke the record for most completions by a rookie, and OLT Rodger Saffold has emerged as one of the top rookie O-linemen. WR Danario Alexander and TE Michael Hoomanawanui have four TD catches between them, and defensive players George Selvie, Jerome Murphy and Jermelle Cudjo have made impacts.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
5. Cleveland Browns
6. Oakland Raiders
Honorable mention: Packers, Eagles, Colts
Now, onto the Meter.
1. Rams QB Sam Bradford (first round, first overall)
Bradford not only brought his team one step closer to the playoffs with a 25-17 win over the 49ers, he may have locked up Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. The No. 1 pick had been struggling of late, but he had a big game in a must-win for St. Louis. Bradford set an NFL record for most pass completions by a rookie in a season while completing 28-of-37 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. A good game in Seattle next week to clinch the division should be enough to give Bradford the title.
2. Lions DT Ndamukong Suh (1, 2)
The for-all-intents-and-purposes Defensive Rookie of the Year has had to hold off secondary members Devin McCourty and Eric Berry. Suh did so on Sunday when he recorded five tackles and his rookie-leading ninth sack. He has 13 tackles for loss and a whopping 16 QB hits this season.
3. Buccaneers WR Mike Williams (4, 101)
He didn't have huge yardage numbers, but Williams made the best of his catches. Two of his three receptions in Sunday's win went for scores. He had 44 yards receiving, putting him just 76 short of 1,000. He continues to lead rookies in every receiving category, and the big-play rookie averages just over 15 yards per catch.
4. Buccaneers RB LeGarrette Blount (undrafted)
Blount had his best game while helping keep the Bucs' playoff hopes alive. He didn't find paydirt but rushed for 164 yards on 18 carries, an astounding 9.1-yard average. The bruising back will finish the season as the best rookie running back in the league.
5. Patriots CB Devin McCourty (1, 27)
McCourty had a quiet game, considering his recent play, in the Patriots' win over the Bills. The corner recorded four tackles and forced a fumble on a Ryan Fitzpatrick scramble. He is tied for the rookie lead with six interceptions this season and should get a good test in the season finale from Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall.
6. Chiefs FS Eric Berry (1, 5)
The Chiefs drafted Berry for his big-play abilities, and he showed that on Sunday with a 54-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was his fourth pick of the season. He added four tackles, and his fifth tackle for loss on the year for the AFC West champs.
7. Browns CB Joe Haden (1, 7)
Imagine if Haden had been starting all season, he could be battling Suh for defensive honors. The former Gator had five tackles, an interception and his first career sack on Sunday. He is tied with McCourty for the rookie lead with six picks and has 17 passes defensed this season.
8. Browns SS T.J. Ward (2, 38)
The tackling machine totaled just two in Sunday's loss to the Ravens. He did record his ninth pass defensed of the season. The hard-hitting Ward has 98 tackles and four tackles for loss on the year.
9. Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (1 Three-and-out with Patriots radio color commentator Gino Cappelletti_321, 15)
It was a tough afternoon for the Giants' defense in their loss to the Packers, but Pierre-Paul did his part with three tackles, including a tackle for loss. On the season he has 4½ sacks, seven tackles for loss and six passes defensed, a pretty good number for a D-lineman.
10. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (2, 42)
Gronkowski and fellow rookie TE Aaron Hernandez have been swapping places at the bottom of this Meter, but "Gronk" gets the nod this week after a two-touchdown performance last week gave him nine on the year, just one behind Williams for the rookie lead. Gronkowski led the Patriots with four catches for 54 yards in Hernandez's absence and was on the field for almost every snap, helping block for an offense that rushed for over 200 yards.
On the cusp (listed alphabetically)
Lions RB Jahvid Best (1, 30)