10 NFL Rookies Who Will Disappoint in 2013

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10 NFL Rookies Who Will Disappoint in 2013

Brad Penner- USA TODAY Sports

The expectations for NFL rookies has changed substantially in recent years. It used to be that rookies were able to be brought along slowly, taking time to learn the system, with the thought that they could contribute within a few years. That’s no longer the case. Rookies now, particularly first rounders, are expected to learn on the fly and be difference makers in year one.

Just look at last year’s top two picks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Luck was thrust into the starting role for an Indianapolis Colts team that had gone 2-14 the previous year. All he did was lead his team to an 11-5 record and a spot in the playoffs. And Griffin took the NFL by storm, changing the landscape of quarterback play on his way to being named NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

So the bar has been raised for rookies moving forward. This year’s crop of rookies doesn’t have many high-profile players like Luck or Griffin, but that doesn’t mean teams expect anything less from them. I actually think a majority of the early picks will end up playing well, albeit with less fanfare. Three of the top four picks were offensive tackles who will likely start when OTAs begin. Even if they don’t play particularly well, tackle isn’t a position that the average fan will pay attention to. Trust me, you won’t hear much about Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel this year . . . at least in comparison to what we heard about Luck and Griffin.

Unfortunately, some rookies will struggle in their first year, not living up to the hype that surrounded them on draft day. Here’s a look at 10 NFL rookies that will disappoint in 2013.

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10.) Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans WR

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Hunter will suffer because of the unreliable passing game of the Tennessee Titans. Quarterback Jake Locker hasn’t looked comfortable dropping back and throwing the ball so Hunter won’t get the opportunities other rookie wide receivers will. He’ll also be behind Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, and Kendall Wright, limiting his playing time to four and five wide receiver sets.

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9.) Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints Safety

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Kenny Vaccaro was drafted with the intention of improving a New Orleans Saints secondary that was atrocious in 2012. However, I don’t think he has the coverage skills necessary to play the deep half against the sophisticated passing schemes in the NFL. He’ll come up and tackle whenever he has the chance, but I think he could be exposed in coverage at times.

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8.) Matt Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles QB

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Matt Barkley only makes the list for those people who really think he’s got a chance to start for Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles. He doesn’t seem to fit in Kelly’s uptempo, zone/read offense and is a long shot to see significant playing time. Michael Vick is the incumbent quarterback and could have a great year in this offense if he stays healthy. Barkley fans will have to wait to see him contribute in the NFL, and I don’t think it will be for the Eagles.

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7.) Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers RB

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Le'Veon Bell might fit the mold of the typical bruising Pittsburgh Steelers running back, but don’t expect that type of production. The big difference with the Steelers in recent years has been the lack of push from their offensive line. In fairness, they’ve suffered a ton of injuries there, but that doesn’t completely excuse them from their inability to run the ball. Bell is dangerous when he’s given a hole and able to get a forward lean, but that won’t happen very much this year in Pittsburgh.

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6.) Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals TE

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Jermaine Gresham is the only reason Tyler Eifert makes the list. He’ll be the primary tight end, relegating Eifert to playing in two tight end sets. There’s a possibility he can line up out wide to create match-up problems, but I’d only expect that in the red zone. The Cincinnati Bengals seem to be trying to replicate the New England Patriots' success with two tight end sets. Easier said than done.

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5.) Dee Milliner, New York Jets CB

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While I think Milliner will be eventually be a solid corner in the NFL, this year he’ll constantly be compared to former New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. That’s a ridiculous comparison for any corner, especially for one with average ball skills. I just think it sets up poorly for Milliner. He’s a top ten pick, drafted to replace the best corner in the league. It could be a long year for him.

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4.) Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings WR

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When the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the late first round, most people thought it would be to take a much needed linebacker, perhaps Manti Te’o. However, they went with Cordarrelle Patterson, the speedy wide receiver. Patterson will be given every opportunity to get playing time on a team desperate for a deep threat. The only problem is that QB Christian Ponder hasn’t proven to be a reliable passer. Patterson will likely have a decent season, but not the explosive one many fans expect from a player they traded a number of picks to get.

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3.) Geno Smith, New York Jets QB

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I can’t decide what will be worse for Geno Smith, starting for the New York Jets or sitting on the bench. If he sits the bench, Jets fans will be disappointed (wouldn’t you be?), therefore qualifying him for the list. If he does start, he simply doesn’t have the weapons to have a very good year. It’s going to take time for Smith to develop and improve in the Jets system, but Jet fans aren’t known for their patience.

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2.) E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills QB

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First round quarterbacks often end up starting at some point in their rookie season, and E.J. Manuel will probably be no different. Most draft experts thought he might go somewhere in the second round and take a few years to develop into an NFL QB, but he won’t be afforded that luxury for the Buffalo Bills. Manuel didn’t display much pocket presence in college, and that problem will be exacerbated in the NFL. If anyone is thinking Manuel will have anywhere near the season that Luck or Griffin had, they will be severely disappointed.

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1.) Ziggy Ansah, Detroit Lions DE

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As a top five pick, Ziggy Ansah will be expected to provide an immediate boost to the Detroit Lions defensive line. The only problem is that he doesn’t have a ton of experience and should be thought of more as a project than an instant impact guy. This is not to say that he won’t be a star in three to four years, just that next year he won’t have the type of season that Lion fans will be hoping for from the number five overall pick.