2011 NFL All Rookie Team Predictions


I’m a little bit crazy, but I’m going to predict who I think has the best chance of making the all-rookie team. We’ll see how that ends up a year from now when I look back on how well (or probably poorly I did). I’m going to go with my philosophy, which served me well in the Huddle Report Rankings where I finished 8th overall: Go big or go home. Make risky picks. The N.F.L. is great because it never turns out the way you think it will. I’ll take the easy route a few times I’m sure, but I’ll try to avoid it every time. Plus how boring would it be if I just chose the first few players drafted at each position? Extremely.

To clarify rookie projections does not mean I think these will be the best players five years down the road. I just think these players are most likely to make an impact this year.

Quarterback: Christian Ponder, Minnesota

The weapons he has surrounding him are the best of any Rookie QB I expect to start. Jake Locke has decent weapons as well, but Ponder’s are better. Ponder also is arguably more pro-ready than either Locker or Newton. Really this comes down to the fact that Ponder will start (Locker might sit behind Collins, It’s possible Palmer can come back and Dalton could sit, Blaine Gabbert probably sits this year) and that he has better weapons and is more pro ready than Cam Newton is, so that’s the pick.

Running back: Daniel Thomas, Miami Dolphins

Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams seem to be on their way out in Miami and even though I’m on record saying I don’t think the Dolphins will be any good this year, also that I think Thomas is a decent prospect, but was over-drafted.

I think he has the best chance to get a lot of carries where Ingram and Ryan Williams will probably share the load.  Safe money is on Mark Ingram because he’s going to a team that is a machine on offense with a great offensive minded coach and the fact that I love him as a prospect, but I’ll go Thomas this year against my better judgment.

Full Back

Henry Hynoski. Undrafted.

That’s right. I did that. I went deep in the bag and pulled out the undrafted full back. Whatever team signs him gets themselves a deal. If a team like the Giants (or any other team that features a full back) he could make the All-Rookie team.

Wide Receiver:

I’m going to give you three wide receivers here.

Torrey Smith, WR, Baltimore Ravens

I think Torrey Smith has an excellent chance at winning a starting spot because there is so much age on the Ravens offense and he brings a different dynamic to the team. He’s also going to a team that has a good offensive line, a pretty good developing quarterback playing in a weaker division with a pretty favorable schedule (the Ravens play the N.F.C. West this year).

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

I didn’t want to make any “easy picks” but I’m going to make this one. I think he’ll start immediately with the Falcons and the fact that they have a plus running game, a very good complementary wide receiver, an emerging quarterback, and they play in a dome. Too easy of a call. A.J. Green could develop into the better player in the long run, but as far as coming into the league and making an impact. Jones has the easier route going to the better team with the established quarterback. It could be difficult for Green to put up big time numbers if Dalton is quarterbacking the team next year.

Jon Baldwin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have a dominant running game and an O.k. Quarterback. Baldwin is one of the better wide receivers prospects in the draft and the Chiefs wide receivers that are not named Dwayne Bowe are border line pathetic. If Baldwin doesn’t win a starting spot and contribute this year it would be a big disappointment.

Tight End:  Robert Housler, Cardinals

Kyle Rudolph is the easy pick and probably the right pick, but I’ll go with Housler for absolutely no reason. I love Rudolph as a prospect and if Ponder is starting, chances are Rudolph will get a lot of passes because young quarterbacks love tight ends. But Rudolph’s an easy pick so I’ll go with Housler. If the Cardinals add Kevin Kolb, Housler could have a very nice season. He’s a good receiver and a plus N.F.L. athlete so it’s possible.


LT Anthony Castanzo, Colts-Perfect fit for their system and the fact that Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball so fast will keep the entire Colts offensive line sack numbers down which will look great. Castazno also has a great chance to start the whole season and I just think he ended up in the perfect situation for himself.

RT Jah Reid, Ravens

I’ve been touting Reid for awhile now so I might as well stick with him. They drafted him early so they obviously think he has a shot at making the All-Rookie team. Gabe Carimi would seem to be a lock here at RT for the Bears if not Reid.

G: Clint Boling,  Bengals. Boling is pro-ready and going to a team that needs to reestablish itself along the offensive line. Boling should win a starting spot and he’s one of the most pro-ready guards from this draft class.

G: Danny Watkins, Philadelphia Eagles-Another safe pick. He’s 40 years old and ready to start. The Eagles also really need help along the offensive line. He should win a starting spot heading into the season, or early in the season.

Center: John Moffitt, C, Seahawks

I think the Seahawks plan on playing Moffitt early. This is a risky pick because he might not even play center, and is probably more likely to play guard. Still, the Seahawks are going the route of the Jets of building up their lines while they transition away from an older quarterback and will get their QB of the future probably next year. Moffitt will win a starting spot this year, I believe and is a good player so I think he has a good shot at making the All-Rookie team.

Defense on the next page.


Defensive line:

DE: Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple

If Wilkerson is able to win a starting spot before the season and play well he has a good shot at making the All-Rookie team behind the publicity train of the New York Jets. It’s hard for rookies to come in and rack up a ton of sacks (Robert Quinn) so I’m going to lean away from two 43 defensive ends here.

DE: Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland

Another player I think will win a starting job (because the Browns have Nothing on the defensive line) which gives him a leg up. He’s also a first round caliber talent and will put up decent tackle numbers and get a few sacks. Rookie Defensive ends rarely rack up the sack numbers so I expect him to be in the ball-park with whoever leads the rookie defensive ends. Sheard is a good, solid player and even if he isn’t in line to have the best career among the defensive ends drafted, I think he can easily have the best rookie season.

DT: Stephen Paea, Bears

Easy pick here is Nick Fairley and I think that’s definitely possible. I’ll just bank on it’ll take Fairley a year or two to adjust. Paea is NFL strong Right NOW. No one is going to out muscle him. He also gets to play next to Julius Peppers which can make any defensive linemen look good. The Bears also play a defensive system that lends itself to defensive tackles being able to make more plays at the quarterback than many systems which also bodes well for Paea. Paea’s my dark horse pick for DT all Rookie team.

DT Terrell McClain, Panthers

If we met in a random sports bar and started chatting up football, and I said to you “what’d you think of Jesse Bartolis’ contribution to the Panthers defensive tackle depth last season”. You wouldn’t be able to correct me. You wouldn’t know who played at defensive tackle for the Panthers. Few people could. McClain should start in week 1 and is another player who can make plays on the quarterback and sack numbers look great for defensive tackles.


Martez Wilson, Saints

The Saints play in an aggressive defense and Wilson has the ability to excel in that defense with his speed, size, and innate pass rushing ability. The Saints will allow Wilson to use his speed to make plays sideline to sideline. He’ll also get some chances to blitz. Plus, despite where he was drafted I thought he was the best 43 Sam linebacker not named Von Miller in this class. An excellent pick for the Saints.

Kelvin Sheppard, Bills

Sheppard plays on a team that allows opponents a lot of opportunities to run the ball. If Sheppard wins a starting spot out of training camp, he could amass a 100+ tackles this year on the Bills defense, which could mean he could lead the rookie linebackers in tackles.

Akeem Ayers, Titans
Ayers is a play maker. He can intercept passes, rush the passer a bit and collect tackles. He’ll also start for the rebuilding Titans and has an excellent chance at looking like the best rookie linebacker after the first year.


Brandon Harris, Texans. I was all “up-ons” Harris leading up to the draft. One of my favorite prospects, and one of the best picks in the draft. The Texans secondary isn’t very good so Harris will get plenty of playing time.

Patrick Peterson, Cardinals

I didn’t want to, but I’d probably get crucified if I didn’t. Plus, he seems like the only lock to start. Prince Amukamara might not start (and probably won’t). I wanted to go Curtis Brown here, but I decided to make the easy pick here. I don’t want to come back next year having gone 0 for  the predictions of the all Rookie Team so I’ll play it safe here.

Jaiqwan Jarrett

I like Jarrett a lot, even though I think the second round was a reach for the Eagles there. If you read my interview with Wes Bunting, you’ll see I specifically mention Jarrett as a safety I like and he said “for a guy you’ll draft in the 5th round” and that one comment made me shy away from putting him our 100 first players to be drafted for our Huddle Report. Anyway, my point is. I think Jarrett will start next year next to Nate Allen (if fully recovered) and I think he can really rack up the tackle numbers, giving him a decent chance of making the All-Rookie team.

Rahim Moore, Broncos

Moore, like Jarius Byrd is a ball hawk and could come in and make an immediate impact on the ball. This wasn’t a great safety class so I’ll go the safe route here again.


Kicker-Alex Henrey. I think there were only two kickers drafted and no punters drafted (at least according to the Punter position sorting by NFL.com). Easy call.

Punter: Let me find out who gets signed before  I make a call in that department.


Jerrel Jernigan, Giants

He’s the one player I absolutely Know will end up with a return job next year. There are a lot of players who could return next year, like Jeremy Kerley of the Jets, but some of those players might have competition for returns. The Giants had one of, if not, The worst return game in the N.F.L. last year. Jernigan also has excellent field vision and will be a welcome addition to the Giants return game.

Let me know where I’m way off base. Leave your thoughts.

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