NFL Rookie

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Many great college players turn out to be flops in the NFL. Only hardcore NFL fans will probably remember Akili Smith. This guy was drafted with the third overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. He could go on to play 2 Games before being cut by the Cincinnati Bengals. Selected first in that same draft was Donovan McNabb. He wasn’t Rookie of the Year, but he showed signs that he belonged. Edgerrin James would go on to become the Rookie of the Year that season. He would rush for 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns that season. Ironically, he was selected one pick after Smith. From bust to the best in just one pick. Let’s see who will be the bust and who will be the best in 2009.Who is the next Offensive Rookie of the Year?

Darren McFadden (3-1)– This Arkansas alumni was the runner up for the Heisman Trophy in 2006 and 2007. The Rookie of the Year is usually a running back and McFadden is arguably the best Rookie running back in the NFL. He should do fine in Oakland, and I expect him to be a top contender for the award. To become “Rookie of the Year” you need playing time. McFadden figures to get the playing time in Oakland where he should have an immediate impact. He’s one of the best backs I’ve seen in college football in many years. McFadden was good for 6 or 7 yards every time he touched the ball it seems. He was virtually unstoppable. What’s scary is, with the Arkansas run oriented offense, most times, it was no secret McFadden was going to get the ball and yet they still couldn’t stop him! But this is the NFL, and unlike in the college Game, every defense he faces will be quick. In college ball, you can get by without a supporting cast. In the NFL you can’t. Put McFadden on a top NFL team and the sky is the limit. Records would be broken. With the Raiders? We shall see. Keep in mind that McFadden’s style of play opens him up to injury. He doesn’t run around guys. He runs through them.

Jonathan Stewart (6-1)– Carolina had a good eye to select Stewart with the 13th pick. He has blazing speed, agility, and has a great ability to shake defenders, all of which will be useful to him in the NFL. Stewart was selected to the All-Pac-10 Conference first team in 2007, and even garnered some All-American notice. He is going to have McFadden to beat.

Kevin Smith (8-1)– UCF’s Kevin Smith became only the second player from their school to receive Heisman Trophy. He was also a first team All-American on virtually every list. Now the question is, can he reach first in his class? With a quick 40 yard dash time of 4.45 he has a chance, but I am leaning in other directions.

Felix Jones (8-1)– Nicknamed “The Cat” and “Jet” this guy can cut from one direction to the next with the type of prowess that would make Barry Sanders proud. He was unfortunate to play his college ball in the shadow of one of the best backs to come out of the college ranks in years, Darren McFadden. Had he played elsewhere, who knows. But this kid has star potential. The problem with the rookie of the year is that it requires significant playing time. Will he get that in Dallas? If he does, unlike his former teammate McFadden, he’ll have the supporting cast necessary to help him put up big numbers in Dallas. Perhaps there will be some added motivation as well to prove himself, now that he’s out of that big shadow McFadden had cast. A friendly competition with his former teammate if you will. At 8-1 odds Feliz Jones may be the best value on the board.

Matt Ryan (10-1) – It was clear from the g et go that Matt Ryan would be a solid NFL QB. He has the poise in the pocket required to be a good NFL QB. He’s calm cool and collective and isn’t afraid to sit back there until the very last minute checking off on all his options. But for this proposition, betting on a QB could prove risky. A quarterback winning this award, is rare. Although, interestingly enough, 2 of the last 4 winners were QB’s. Roethlisberger won it in 2004 and Vince Young in 2006. But prior to those two, the last QB to win the award was Dennis Shaw (who?) back in 1970! The vast majority of the winners of this award are running backs. Most newly drafted QB’s are brought along with kid gloves and don’t see any significant playing time right off the bat. The learning curve for a QB in the NFL is much different than a running backs. Running backs run. QB’s need to learn how to read complex defensive schemes not to mention learning their own teams offense. Even if Ryan were to start right off the bat, there’s a very good chance he’s struggle.

Above are a few of the major contenders. Will post the complete odds below. To sum up, the winner of the award is a running back 90% of the time. That being the case, the duo from Arkansas, McFadden and Jones figure to have the inside track. In looking for the best value, we lean towards Jones. At 8-1, he’ll be on a team that should be among the best in the NFL. A good supporting cast can do wonders for a new running backs numbers. Jones has the potential to be involved in more high profile, meaningful Games, thus, more potential publicity. It will all come down to the numbers either way, and McFadden should shine. It’s just that 3-1 odds isn’t a juicy enough price to make this handicapper bite. So we’ll make a play on Jones here at 8-1 with a smaller wager on McFadden at 3-1 just in case.

Now, let’s get the show on the road!



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