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The Rookie Report

Welcome everyone to the second installment to the Rookie Report.  Each week during the preseason and regular season, the report will cover trends and a game by game analysis of notable performances by the NFL’s 2007 rookie class to assist in your pursuit of dynasty championship gold.  

During the preseason, I will provide a tiered analysis of rookies by position each week followed by a break down of each preseason game.   The preseason is crucial for evaluating rookies’ long-term fantasy values as they are given the opportunity to gain valuable playing time and experience they otherwise will not get during the regular season.

So sit back, but don’t get too comfortable because here we go with our second preseason installment of this Rookie Report on Rookie Wide Receivers…

Tier 1 – Instant Impact

WR Calvin Johnson—

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson arrives to the NFL as the most gifted player of the 2007 NFL rookie class.  Calvin possesses all of the intangibles to achieve greatness at the WR spot: great size at 6-5 and 240 lbs, great speed at sub 4.4 levels, outstanding leaping ability, excellent hands, excellent blocking skills, and a great attitude/work ethic.  He also is put into the ideal situation in a Mike Martz pass happy offense.  QB Reggie Ball held CJ2 back at Georgia Tech, but Martz’s system should maximize his potential in the NFL.  If you add CJ2’s intangibles with his ideal situation, he is as close to a sure fire bet to make an instant impact in the NFL and greatness over his career as any WR prospect in the history of the league.  Johnson should receive a large number of reps this preseason for everyone to get a glimpse of his greatness.

Tier 2

WR Anthony Gonzalez—

Indianapolis Colts

Anthony Gonzalez was the second WR from

Ohio

State drafted in the 2007 NFL Draft.  However, he should out produce the “return specialist” Ginn, Jr. in the NFL as a WR.  Gonzalez is a smart WR who runs great routes, has good size, good speed, excellent hands, good blocking skills, and has a great work ethic/attitude.  It doesn’t hurt that Gonzalez was drafted by the Colts with the best QB in the league in Peyton Manning, and an empty starting spot as the Colts’ slot receiver.  With Marvin Harrison only getting older, Gonzalez could be groomed to become the Colts WR2 starting opposite of Reggie Wayne in the not too distant future.

WR Robert Meachem—New

Orleans Saints

Robert Meachem has all of the tools to excel in the NFL: excellent speed, burst, hands, and size.   He still needs to develop his route running, blocking, and concentration when the ball is in the area.  Meachem recently underwent surgery to clean up his knee, and his recovery could limit him in training camp.  Meachem will be battling with Devery Henderson and Terrence Copper for playing time in 2007.  Unless Meachem has a fantastic training camp, he will be limited in his playing time in 2007.  Meachem has struggled with consistency thus far in training camp.  In the first preseason game, Meachem finished with only 1 catch for 6 yards and was shaken up by a hard hit over the middle; however, he rebounded in the 2nd preseason game with 2 catches for 20 yards and an impressive over-the-shoulder TD grab.  In Sean Payton’s wide open offense with Dree Brees directing the show, Meachem could turn out to be a force in 2008 and beyond.   

WR Dwayne Bowe—

Kansas City Chiefs

Dwayne Bowe had an excellent senior season at LSU.  Bowe has great hands, good leaping ability, good speed, and is an excellent blocker.  Unfortunately for Bowe, he was drafted into Herm Edwards boring run oriented offense led by a first year starter Brodie Croyle.  If Bowe improves from his disappointing minicamp, he should receive significant playing time in his rookie year and beyond.  Bowe held out during the start of training camp, and started on the training

camp

PUP list due to a lack of conditioning.   

WR Dwayne Jarrett—

Carolina Panthers

Dwayne Jarrett lacks speed, but has good size, ball skills, and hands.  Jarrett will be given an opportunity to compete with Drew Carter and Keary Colbert for the starting WR2 position that is open following Keyshawn Johnson’s departure this offseason.  Jarrett is receiving comparisons to former USC standout Mike Williams due to their similarities in size and being slow.  Jarrett should be able to beat out Drew Carter and Colbert at some point this year for the starting spot opposite of Steve Smith; however, it is still unclear how Jarrett’s skill set will translate onto the NFL level.  Jarrett has received some work early in training camp with the first offensive unit of the Panthers but he has been slowed by a minor hamstring injury in camp.   Keep a close watch on how the Panther’s depth chart shakes out at WR by the end of camp.

WR Sidney Rice—

Minnesota Vikings

Sidney Rice is a smooth, sure-handed WR with good speed and size.   He is expected to compete for the starting WR2 spot in the Vikings West Coast offense.  So far in training camp, Rice has dealt with a sore hamstring.   Rice’s short and long-term value will depend on the development of Tavaris Jackson at the QB position.  If

Jackson develops into a decent NFL QB, Rice should present dynasty owners with some good results.

Tier 3

WR Craig Davis—

San Diego Chargers

Craig Davis is the forgotten WR who started along side Dwayne Bowe at LSU last year; however, his sure hands, size, and athleticism should translate well at the NFL level.  

Davis was held out of minicamps due to a groin tear suffered at LSU’s pro-day.  With Eric Parker’s injury early in training camp,

Davis appears to be on track to start the year as the starting WR2 for

San Diego

Davis needs to improve his route running skills and play more physical; however, he has the talent to succeed at the NFL level.

WR Ted Ginn, Jr.—

Miami Dolphins

Ted Ginn, Jr. was surprisingly drafted with the 9th pick of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins over Brady Quinn.  Ginn possesses blazing speed and is an excellent return specialist; however, his skills as a WR are unpolished in terms of route running and blocking.  Ginn relied strictly on his blazing speed to excel in the college game; however, the defensive schemes and faster/more skilled defensive backfields will mitigate this advantage unless his route running improves.  Ginn is an interesting project that will start off as a return specialist for the Dolphins.  If his route running improves during his career then watch out as this guy could be a top WR in the league.  However, if it does not improve, Ginn will be forever talked about an early 1st round bust especially if Brady Quinn succeeds at the NFL level.

WR Jason Hill—

San Francisco 49ers

Jason Hill is a physical WR with good size, speed, and hands.  He will begin his career as the backup to Arnaz Battle at the 49ers flanker position.  In OTA’s, Hill impressed the coaching staff with his skills.  Hill still needs to develop consistency in his route running.  It is likely that Hill will be starting opposite of Darrell Jackson in the not to distant future.

WR Steve Smith—

New York Giants

Steve Smith is a smart, reliable WR that has impressed the Giants organization in early workouts so far.  He was overshadowed by Dwayne Jarrett at USC; however, his excellent route running, good hands, and toughness will help him excel at the NFL level.  Early indications out of the Giants organization is that Smith will push Amani Toomer for the starting job along side Plaxico Burress.   While I think it is unlikely Smith will beat out Toomer this year for the starting job, Smith will eventually win this job and present value to fantasy owners in the not too distant future.  

Tier 4

WR Mike Walker—

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike Walker has done nothing but impress the Jaguars coaching staff with his skills in the OTA’s and minicamps.  With first round disappointments Matt Jones and Reggie Williams in starting positions for the Jags,

Walker has an excellent opportunity to take over the starting job at some point this season if they continue to struggle. 

Walker is a natural athlete with good speed, size, hands, and route running.  If he continues his progress in training camp,

Walker could be a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners.

WR Jacoby Jones—

Houston Texans

Jacoby Jones is a small school product that has excellent size, good speed, and good field vision.  His main question mark is his lack of experience against high level competition, and he needs to work on his route running.  In OTA’s Jones impressed the coaching staff; however, was inconsistent as is typical of rookies.  Jones will have the opportunity to compete with Kevin Walter in training camp for the starting WR2 position.  Jacoby Jones will likely be brought along slowly in his rookie season as the Texans try to groom him to be their starting WR2 in 2008 and beyond.  

WR Aundrae Allison—

Minnesota Vikings

Allison enters the NFL amongst one of the weakest WR groups in the league.  He should have the opportunity to compete for playing time in his rookie year; however, he still remains a project at this point.  Allison has good speed, ball skills, and athleticism.  He still lacks skill as a route runner; however, he is someone every fantasy owner should keep an eye on in the longterm as Troy Williamson could be gone after this year if he does not produce.

WR Johnnie Lee Higgins—

Oakland Raiders

Higgins has outstanding speed, quickness and leaping ability.  He still remains raw in terms of his route running and is on the small side; however, he has a chance to start in the slot ahead of Travis Taylor if he has a good training camp.  Higgins will likely start the year as the team’s WR4, but keep an eye on this guy as he has the talent to develop into a solid WR option for the

Oakland offense.

WR James Jones—

Green Bay Packers

James Jones is a physical WR who lacks outstanding speed; however, he has the ability to get open, is very quick, has good leaping ability and good hands.  In training

camp

Jones will compete for the WR3 position.  With Donald Driver sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Jones has been receiving a large amount of work with the first team offense.  He will likely begin his career as a special teamer, but is someone to keep an eye on in the future.

WR Laurent Robinson—

Atlanta Falcons

Robinson is a small school product that has good speed, athleticism, leaping ability, size and ball skills.  He will compete with Roddy White for the WR3 spot in training camp.  With the untalented Falcon’s WRs ahead of Robinson on the depth chart outside of the often injured Joe Horn, Robinson is someone to keep an eye on in the future for fantasy purposes.

Other Mentionables

WR Joel Filani—

Tennessee Titans

WR Paul Williams—

Tennessee Titans

WR Isiah Stanback—

Dallas Cowboys

WR Roy Hall—

Indianapolis Colts

WR Chris Davis—

Tennessee Titans

WR David Clowney—

Green Bay Packers

WR Chansi Stuckey—

New York Jets

WR Yamon Figurs—

Baltimore Ravens

WR Ryne Robinson—

Carolina Panthers

WR Legedu Naanee—

San Diego Chargers

WR Derek Stanley—

St. Louis Rams

WR John Broussard—

Jacksonville Jaguars

The following section of the rookie report will recap performances by rookies each week for each game.  

Detroit

Lions vs.

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit WR Calvin Johnson did not disappoint in his NFL preseason debut as he had two catches for 45 yards with both being 20+ yard grabs.  Another play stood out to me that showed what type of factor Calvin Johnson will be on the field for the Lions.  On Shaun McDonald’s 83 yard TD catch, Calvin Johnson ran a route breaking quickly to the sideline where both the corner and safety bit.  Meanwhile, Shaun McDonald ran directly to the safety’s former position and was wide open for the long TD grab.

For the Cincinnati Bengals, RB Kenny Irons looked good with his 4 carries for 17 yards before being carted off the field with a knee injury.  A MRI on Friday indicated that Irons suffered a torn ACL, and he will miss the remainder of the 2007 season.  QB Jeff Rowe looked efficient with 5 for 7 passing for 47 yards.  RB Curtis Brown from BYU had a lackluster performance with 3 carries for 5 yards.  WR Jesse Holley finished with 2 catches for 25 yards.

Indianapolis

vs.

Dallas Cowboys

Notable rookie performances by Indianapolis Colts included: WR Anthony Gonzalez’s 1 catch for 14 yards; WR Roy Hall’s 1 catch for 5 yards; RB Clifton Dawson 3 carries for 7 yards and 1 catch for 14 yards; WR Trent Shelton had 2 catches for 10 yards and a TD.

Notable rookie performances by Dallas Cowboys included: PK Nick Folk kicking 1/1 for a 25 yard field goal and 1/1 on extra points; QB Matt Moore from

Oregon

State completing 7 of 9 passes for 88 yards; RB Jackie Battle running 9 carries for 25 yards; and Jamel Richardson having 1 catch for 9 yards.

Atlanta

Falcons vs. NY Jets

For the Falcons, both RB Jason Snelling and WR Laurent Robinson had impressive performances in their preseason debuts.  Snelling finished the game with 10 carries for 48 rushing yards and 3 catches for 12 yards.  Robinson finished with 5 catches for 49 receiving yards.

For the NY Jets, both RB Danny Ware and WR Chansi Stuckey performed well in their rookie debuts.  Danny Ware rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries.  WR Chansi Stuckey had 3 catches for 20 yards and a TD.  He also had one punt return for 14 yards.  

New England Patriots vs.

Tampa

Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buc’s rookie RB Kenneth Darby was impressive on Friday night with 15 carries for 84 yards and 1 catch for 13 yards.  If he continues this surge, he will push Michael Pittman for carries in reliving Cadillac Williams.

New England Patriot notable rookie performances include: QB Matt Gutierrez going 6 for 10 for 66 passing yards and 1 rush for 5 yards; RB Quinton Smith’s 2 carries for 11 yards; and WR Chris Dunlap’s 1 catch for 17 yards.

St. Louis

Rams vs.

Minnesota Vikings

The Viking’s RB Adrian Peterson made his NFL debut to a ho-hum 11 carries for 33 yards and 1 catch for 2 yards.  Other notable Viking rookie performances include QB Tyler Thigman’s 3 for 6 passing for 29 yards and 2 rushes for 18 yards as well as Sidney Rice’s 1 catch for 1 yard.

For the Rams, both RB/FB Brian Leonard and WR Derek Stanley had impressive preseason games.  Brian Leonard finished the game with 9 carries for 36 yards as well as 5 catches for 31 yards.  He is trying to cement himself as Steven Jackson’s primary backup in camp and is off to a good start.  WR Derek Stanley snagged 4 balls for 61 receiving yards.

Buffalo

Bills vs.

New Orleans Saints

Marshawn Lynch had a very unimpressive debut for the Buffalo Bills.  After hearing nothing but positives about his performance in training camp thus far, Lynch ran for 2 rushes for 3 yards in his first preseason game.  Trent Edwards was solid in his first rookie game going 10 for 11 for 49 passing yards and rushing 2 times for 8 yards.   Dewayne Wright opened the preseason with 6 carries for 20 yards.

New Orleans Saints’ rookie WR Robert Meachem rebounded from his miserable debut last week with 2 catches for 20 yards and a very impressive over-the-shoulder TD grab on the right side of the end zone.  QB Tyler Palko improved from his miserable performance last week going 15 for 27 for 172 yards, a touchdown and 2 INTs.  RB Antonio Pittman showed some receiving ability with a catch that went for 24 yards.  He still looked to be swallowed up by the

Buffalo defensive line as he had 10 carries for 23 rushing yards.

 

Kansas City

Chiefs vs.

Cleveland Browns

The only notable rookie performance for the Cleveland Browns was WR Syndric Steptoe’s 2 catches for 36 yards.

For the Chiefs, Kolby Smith looked very mediocre in the run game with 3 carries for a total loss of 3 yards and 2 catches for 11 yards.  Other notable rookie performances for the Chiefs included: RB Marcus O’Keith’s 6 carries for 15 yards and 2 catches for 12 yards; TE Michael Allen’s 1 catch for 18 yards; and WR Brad Ekwerekwu’s 2 catches for 18 yards.  Kicker Justin Medlock had a solid first game going 1/1 on field goal attempts and 1/1 on extra points.

Jacksonville

Jaguars vs.

Miami Dolphins

Miami rookie QB John Beck made his preseason debut with 3 for 5 passing for 23 yards.  WR Kerry Reed had 1 catch for 29 yards.

Notable performances by Jacksonville Jaguars’ rookies included QB Lester Ricard’s 6 for 9 passing for 85 yards; WR John Broussard’s 3 catches for 66 yards; and WR Mike Walker’s 3 catches for 30 yards.

Green Bay

Packers vs.

Pittsburgh Steelers

For

Green Bay, RB Brandon Jackson had 57 yards on 16 carries, and overall looked mediocre.  WR James Jones had a solid game with 6 catches for 58 yards as he fights to be the third WR on the team.  RB Corey White had 22 rushing yards on 8 carries.

Pittsburgh rookie RB Gary Russell had another impressive performance for the second straight week as he had 9 carries for 56 yards and 2 catches for 11 yards.

Chicago

Bears vs.

Houston Texans

Notable rookie performances for the Houston Texans included: WR Jacoby Jones impressive 22 yard punt return and 4 catches for 47 yards and RB Darius Walker’s 2 carries for 8 yards.

Notable performances for the Bears included: RB Garrett Wolfe’s 7 carries for 15 yards and 2 catches for 5 yards; WR David Ball’s 2 catches for 24 yards; Greg Olsen’s 2 catches for 17 yards; and WR Clinton Solomon’s 1 catch for 15 yards.

Carolina

Panthers vs. NY Giants

Carolina WR Ryne Robinson looked impressive in his first preseason game with 2 catches for 41 yards.

NY Giants rookie RB Ahmad Bradshaw had 5 carries for 19 yards and 2 catches for 18 yards.  WR Steve Smith added 2 catches for 13 yards.

Washington

Redskins vs.

Tennessee Titans

The only notable Washington Redskins rookie performance was RB Marcus Mason’s 5 carries for 22 yards and a touchdown.

Titan’s RB Chris Henry added a decent performance against the Redskins 2nd and 3rd stringers with 12 carries for 42 yards (3.5 YPC).  WR Paul Williams added 2 catches for 18 yards.  WR Joel Filani had 1 catch for 5 yards.

Arizona

Cardinals vs.

Oakland Raiders

For

Arizona, rookie RB Steve Baylark’s 3 carries for 9 yards was their only notable rookie performance.

Oakland’s WR Johnnie Lee Higgins had a good first game with 2 catches for 59 yards, 1 kickoff return for 21 yards, and 1 punt return for 11 yards.  TE Zach Miller had 1 catch for 14 yards.  WR Chris McFoy had 1 catch for 9 yards.

Seattle

Seahawks vs.

San Diego Chargers

Notable Seahawk rookie performances include: RB A.J. Harris’ 4 carries for 12 yards; WR Logan Payne’s 2 catches for 17 yards; WR Joe Fernandez’s 1 catch for 16 yards; and TE Joe Newton’s 1 catch for 5 yards.

Notable Chargers’ rookies include: TE Scott Chandler’s impressive 4 catches for 47 yards; WR Legedu Naanee’s 4 catches for 44 yards; and WR Craig Davis’ 1 catch for 11 yards.

Due to the timing of the Rookie Report, Monday night games will not be included in the game summaries. 

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