Year of the Rookie
Now and than, you just have to be thankful for getting to witness some of the amazing feats of athletic prowess in pro sports these days. This year, we've seen what might just be the best class of NFL rookies in almost 30 years - and if they keep this pace, perhaps all time. And while the rookie surge has been led by some phenomenal quarterbacks, they are far from the only rookies to impress this year. Let's take a look. The first and second picks of the NFL draft are always the subjects of intense scrutiny. When they are both quarterbacks, that scrutiny intensifies. When they are both highly evaluated for their potential, it intensifies further. Meeting expectations was going to be difficult enough - exceeding them seemed just about impossible at the beginning of the season. All of which makes it that much more incredible that both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have led their teams to winning records and potential playoff appearances. But if you want to talk about who has surprised the NFL world, you'd better be talking about Richmond's own Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. Picked in the third round with the 75th overall pick, Wilson was deemed too short by many a NFL scout. But after an impressive training camp, head coach Pete Carrol decided to make him the starter over marquee free agent Matt Flynn. Carrol's decision paid off big time - Russell has led his team to a 10-5 season and a guarenteed berth to the playoffs. Oh yeah, he also led his team to consecutive victories of 58-0, 50-17, and 42-13. Needless to say, we're giddy with pride for the local guy. So there we are, 3 rookie quarterback phenoms. In a normal year, that would be enough to say this was a great draft class. But let's take a look at some of the other rookies: Washington's Alfred Morris (taken with 173rd pick, by the way), Cleveland's Trent Richardson, and Tampa Bay's Doug Martin are showcasing the talent from the class at running back. Morris and Martin are 4th and 6th in rushing yards 15 games into the season, and Richardson is tied for 2nd in rushing touchdowns with 11. On the defensive side, rookies have made a massive impact this year. Janoris Jenkins (St. Louis), Casey Hayward (Green Bay), Bobby Wagner (Seattle) are in a 3-man race for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Jenkins has 72 total tackles, 4 interceptions, and 4 defensive touchdowns. Hayward has 52 total tackles, 6 interceptions, and 1 forced fumble. Wagner has 130 total tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 interceptions. So much attention is, naturally, paid to the 2012 rookie quarterback class - which might be the best since the famous draft of 1983. When you see a class compared to the one that gave the league John Elway, Jim Kelly, and Dan Marino, you know you're seeing something special.