Answers in Search of a Question: 2009 Impact Rookies

“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:

http://www.nfl.com/draft/story?id=09000d5d81025951&template=without-video-with-comments&confirm=true

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:

http://www.profootballfocus.com/home.php?tab=home

Pro Football Focus uses a fairly complex system for rating players.  If you would like to see their full explanation of how they arrive at their ratings, you may go to their article at:

http://www.profootballfocus.com/about.php?tab=about#grad3

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:
Position Ratings        
QB Overall Pass Run Penalty  
HB/FB Overall Pass Run Block Penalty
WR Overall Pass Run Block Penalty
TE Overall Pass Pass Block Run Block Penalty
O-Line Overall Pass Block Screen Block Run Block Penalty
Defense Overall Rush Coverage Run 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
Incumbent Willie Anderson OT xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Rookie Michael Oher   1067 3.5 2.5 1.5 8.5 -9.0

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

 

Buffalo   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Aaron Schobel DE 849 2.3 2.5 1.5 1.3 -3.0
Incumbent Chris Kelsay   932 -20.3 -10.4 2.5 -11.9 0.0
Rookie Aaron Maybin   231 -13.6 -6.3 1.0 -7.3 -1.0

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
Incumbent Langston Walker   xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Incumbent Jason Peters   xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Rookie Eric Wood OG 613 -7.7 -1.4 0.0 0.2 -6.5

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

 

Carolina   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Julius Peppers DE 806 12.3 12.9 5.0 -2.6 -3.0
Rookie Everette Brown   401 0.2 2.8 3.0 -4.6 -1.0

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
Incumbent Levi Jones OT xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Rookie Andre Smith   115 0.1 2.3 0.0 -2.2 0.0

Jones ended up in Washington; Smith still did not break into the starting lineup.

Cincinnati --    LB Dhani Jones vs Rey Maualuga

 

Cincinnati LB Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Dhani Jones ILB 1015 -5.1 -0.2 0.9 -3.8 -2.0
Rookie Rey Maualuga OLB 476 5.2 -2.1 -2.4 9.7 0.0

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
Incumbent Hank Fraley   306 1.6 1.8 -0.5 0.3 0.0
Rookie Alex Mack   1016 16.3 0.6 2.0 15.2 -1.5

Fraley was moved to G while Mack stayed at C

Cleveland --    WR Donte Stallworth vs Brian Robiskie

 

Cleveland   Position Snaps Overall Pass Run Blocking Penalty
Incumbent Donte Stallworth WR xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Rookie Brian Robiskie   221 -3.2 -2.4 0.0 -0.8 0.0

Stallworth was suspended for the season; Robiskie ended up 6th on the depth chart.

Denver --    RB Correll Buckhalter/LaMont Jordan vs Knowshon Moreno

 

Denver   Position Snaps Overall Pass Run Blocking Penalty
Incumbent Correll Buckhalter RB 413 -1.4 -0.2 3.3 -3.5 -1.0
Incumbent LaMont Jordan   59 -4.5 -0.8 -2.7 -1.0 0.0
Rookie Knowshon Moreno   611 0.7 -4.2 4.5 1.9 -1.5

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

 

Green Bay   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Ryan Pickett DT 346 -0.6 -2.2 -0.5 4.1 -2.0
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

 

Green Bay   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Brady Poppinga LB 264 -8.6 -4.8 0.4 -2.0 -2.0
Incumbent Brandon Chillar   11 -0.4 -0.4 0.0 0.0 0.0
Rookie Clay Matthews   860 19.7 8.8 2.7 10.2 -2.0

Matthews came in and seized control of his position.

Houston --    LB Zac Diles vs Brian Cushing

 

Houston   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Zac Diles LB 511 6.4 -0.9 7.0 0.3 0.0
Rookie Brian Cushing   1025 15.4 7.3 5.5 7.6 -5.0

Cushing was able to establish himself as the more dominant LB.

Indianapolis    RB Joseph Addai vs Donald Brown

 

Indianapolis   Position Snaps Overall Pass Run Blocking Penalty
Incumbent Joseph Addai RB 682 3.1 0.0 -0.6 3.7 0.0
Rookie Donald Brown   242 -1.2 1.9 -3.6 1.5 -1.0

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
Incumbent Tra Thomas OT 154 -6.6 -3.8 0.0 -1.8 -1.0
Incumbent Tony Pashos   xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Rookie Eugene Monroe   895 -9.8 -12.4 -0.5 7.1 -4.0

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
        /Sean Smith

 

Miami   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Jason Allen CB 329 2.0 0.0 0.2 0.2 -3.5
Incumbent Eric Green xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Incumbent Nate Jones   448 -1.1 -1.0 2.3 -1.4 -1.0
Incumbent Joey Thomas xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Rookie Vonte Davis   709 1.9 0.4 3.7 2.8 -5.0
Rookie Sean Smith   914 0.8 0.0 -1.6 2.9 -0.5

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

 

Minnesota   Position Snaps Overall Pass Run Blocking Penalty
Incumbent Bobby Wade WR xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Incumbent Sidney Rice   950 18.4 22.0 0.0 -0.6 -3.0
Rookie Percy Harvin   520 9.7 12.6 2.0 -0.9 -4.0

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
Incumbent Artis Hicks OT 86 -1.7 -2.0 0.0 0.3 0.0
Incumbent Ryan Cook   7 -1.8 -0.8 0.0 -1.0 0.0
Rookie Phil Loadholt   1068 -7.9 9.1 0.5 -8.5 -9.0

Loadholt established himself as the starter.

New England --  S Rodney Harrison vs Patrick Chung

 

New England   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Rodney Harrison S xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
Rookie Patrick Chung   194 1.8 0.9 0.8 1.1 -1.0

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

 

NY Giants   Position Snaps Overall Pass Run Blocking Penalty
Incumbent Steve Smith WR 908 6.1 12.8 0.0 -2.7 -4.0
Incumbent Domenik Hixon   234 3.6 0.3 0.0 3.3 0.0
Incumbent Sinorice Moss   54 -0.4 -0.1 0.0 -0.3 0.0
Incumbent Mario Manningham   680 3.5 7.1 0.0 -2.6 -1.0
Rookie Hakeen Nicks   528 5.1 4.9 -0.4 0.6 0.0

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

 

NY Jets   Position Snaps Overall Pass Run Blocking Penalty
Incumbent Thomas Jones RB 643 -7.9 -3.6 -2.8 -0.5 -1.0
Rookie Shonn Greene   170 -2.6 -1.4 -1.8 0.6 0.0

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

 

Tampa Bay   Position Snaps Overall Pass Run Penalty
Incumbent Byron Leftwich QB 181 2.0 3.0 -1.0 0.0
Rookie Josh Freeman   590 -3.0 -4.0 2.0 -1.0

Freeman was able to win the starting spot away from Leftwich.

Washington --  DE Phillip Daniels vs Brian Orakpo

 

Washington   Position Snaps Overall Rush Coverage Run Penalty
Incumbent Phillip Daniels DE 627 -5.0 -9.3 1.5 2.8 0.0
Rookie Brian Orakpo OLB 922 0.5 10.0 -5.0 -2.5 -2.0

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.

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