“We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself." -- Lloyd Alexander
I've said many times that my ability to accurately predict which rookies the Broncos (or anyone else) will draft is laughable, at best. The process of free agency and the draft is as mystifying to me as trying to figure out what choice my wife is going to make in any given situation.
That said, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the rookies drafted in 2009 and see if they were able make an impact on their team in that rookie year. Vic Carrucci of NFL.com published an article in which he offered up a list those rookies who were popularly expected to have the greatest impact on their teams. That article may be found here:
I merged Carrucci's list with the player ratings generated by Pro Football Focus. If you'd like to see the charts for yourself, they may be found at:
Put simply, PFF uses a scale of -2.0 to 2.0 to rate each play a player is on the field for, then normalizes that data to provide a single rating score for various "jobs" the player is expected to perform. An average score would be 0.0. The higher the rating, the better the performance, the lower the rating, the worse. Positive ratings are displayed in green. Average ones in white. Negative ones in red.
I have included the following ratings/data:
|TE||Overall||Pass||Pass Block||Run Block||Penalty|
|O-Line||Overall||Pass Block||Screen Block||Run Block||Penalty|
The charts that follow apply these ratings to the rookies and incumbents listed in Carrucci's article:
Baltimore -- ROT Willie Anderson vs Michael Oher
|Baltimore||Position||Snaps||Overall||Pass Blk||Screen Blk||Run Blk||Penalty|
It should be noted that Willie Anderson was cut by Baltimore prior to the season, and was not picked up by any other team in 2009.
Buffalo -- DE Aaron Schobel/Chris Kelsay vs Aaron Maybin
Maybin saw limited duty and ended up 4th on the depth chart.
Buffalo -- OL Brad Butler/Langston Walker/Jason Peters vs Eric Wood
|Buffalo||Position||Snaps||Overall||Pass Blocking||Screen Blocking||Run Blocking||Penalty|
|Incumbent||Brad Butler||OT||84 (IR)||3.3||0.0||0.0||3.3||0.0|
Walker moved to Oakland, Peters to Philadelphia
Butler played OT and ended up on IR, while Wood played OG. Wood did not post particularly good numbers.
Carolina -- DE Julius Peppers vs Everette Brown
Brown made a good showing when in the game, though he was significantly worse in run stopping than Peppers.
Cincinnati -- OT Levi Jones vs Andre Smith
|Cincinnati||Position||Snaps||Overall||Pass Blocking||Screen Blocking||Run Blocking||Penalty|
Jones ended up in Washington; Smith still did not break into the starting lineup.
Cincinnati -- LB Dhani Jones vs Rey Maualuga
Jones ended up playing an ILB position while Maualuga was an OLB
Cleveland -- C Hank Fraley vs Alex Mack
|Cleveland||Position||Snaps||Overall||Pass Blocking||Screen Blocking||Run Blocking||Penalty|
Fraley was moved to G while Mack stayed at C
Cleveland -- WR Donte Stallworth vs Brian Robiskie
Stallworth was suspended for the season; Robiskie ended up 6th on the depth chart.
Denver -- RB Correll Buckhalter/LaMont Jordan vs Knowshon Moreno
Moreno was able to take over the starting position; Moreno was better in run situations while Buckhalter was better in passing situations; Jordan was a non-factor.
Green Bay -- DT Ryan Pickett vs B J Raji
|Rookie||B. J. Raji||144||-3.5||-2.9||-0.5||-0.1||0.0|
Raji seemed to underwhelm.
Green Bay -- LB Brady Poppinga/Brandon Chillar vs Clay Matthews
Matthews came in and seized control of his position.
Houston -- LB Zac Diles vs Brian Cushing
Cushing was able to establish himself as the more dominant LB.
Indianapolis RB Joseph Addai vs Donald Brown
Brown was used situationally as Addai remained the stronger running back.
Jacksonville OT Tra Thomas/Tony Pashos vs Eugene Monroe
|Jacksonville||Position||Snaps||Overall||Pass Blocking||Screen Blocking||Run Blocking||Penalty|
Pashos ended up with San Francisco; Monroe established himself as the stronger choice.
Miami -- CB Jason Allen/Eric Green/Nate Jones/Joey Thomas vs Vonte Davis
Green and Thomas were both cut; Green was picked up by San Francisco; Davis and Smith became the dominant pair.
Minnesota -- WR Bobby Wade/Sidney Rice vs Percy Harvin
Wade ended up with Kansas City; Harvin played an important role, but Rice had the stronger season.
Minnesota -- OT Artis Hicks/Ryan Cook vs Phil Loadholt
|Minnesota||Position||Snaps||Overall||Pass Blocking||Screen Blocking||Run Blocking||Penalty|
Loadholt established himself as the starter.
New England -- S Rodney Harrison vs Patrick Chung
This was a strange situation. Harrison retired prior to the start of the off-season training sessions. Chung still ended up 4th on the depth chart.
NY Giants -- WR Steve Smith/Domenik Hixon, Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham vs Hakeem Nicks
Moss ended up being the odd-man out in this group as Nicks was able to establish himself as the solid #3 receiver.
NY Jets -- RB Thomas Jones vs Shonn Greene
This was an interesting set of ratings, since the running game was seen as a strenght of the Jets. Perhaps it shows the importance of strong o-line play.
Tampa Bay -- QB Byron Leftwich vs Josh Freeman
Freeman was able to win the starting spot away from Leftwich.
Washington -- DE Phillip Daniels vs Brian Orakpo
Both Daniels and Orakpo saw significant playing time; the difference in the official listing of their positions may indicate they were used situationally.
From these ratings, we can see where some rookies came in and had very good showings, while others did not do as well. From this, we can see that a team can not be completely certain as to what they will get with their draft picks. Below, are some of the names that I recall having been advanced as good choices for Denver, along with a brief comment about their year:
Oher - a solid year after the incumbent was cut prior to the start of the season.
Maybin - did not see much action and struggled when he did.
Maualuga - saw situational play and overall did well though he struggled in rush and pass coverage.
Raji - did not see much action and did not post strong ratings when he was in.
Matthews - a solid year and took control of his position.
Cushing - a solid year in control of his roster spot.
If there are others on Carrucci's list that I've omitted, please feel free to list them and comment on them in the comments section.