15 Rookies Who Will Make An Impact In 2014 NFL Playoffs
15 Rookies Who Will Make An Impact In NFL Playoffs
The NFL playoffs will officially begin on Saturday with the Kansas City Chiefs going up against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card. There will be numerous players that fans will watch and follow who will be ready to bring their A-game with every play. Fans know who Alex Smith and Jamaal Charles are, as well as who Andrew Luck and Robert Mathis. However, there is always a rookie that will stand out and take their game to the next level. Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is a good example. Wilson not only got drafted in the 3rd round, but he came into Seahawks camp as the third-string quarterback behind Matt Flynn and Tarvaris Jackson.
Flynn is now on the Green Bay Packers after being released by the Oakland Raiders. Jackson is no longer in the NFL. Luck made his debut, but was less than stellar to say the least. RG3 played, but he was hobbled for most of the season. Dujuan Harris, who was on the Packers last year, had a good game against the Minnesota Vikings with 47 yards and a touchdown. There is always someone who didn't do much during the regular season as a rookie that will shine during prime time.
Most players know that each and every play is crucial in deciding the final score of the game. Veterans get this and only few rookies do, and that's what sets them apart from the rest. There are a number of games coming up in the next few weeks where rookies will have a chance to showcase their talents to the national audience. These are 15 of the top rookies that will make an impact in this year's playoffs.
15. Jamie Collins
Jamie Collins has came on as an impact player in his last six games. He is not the best at stopping the run, but when it comes to rushing the passer, he got better with every game. With Brandon Spikes holding down the middle and Donta' Hightower on the weak side, Collins is free to shoot through the gap and attack the passer. He is still raw and has a lot of work to do, but he has shown a nose for the ball. Shaky offensive lines with either the Indianapolis Colts or Kansas City Chiefs will help him in his attack.
14. Luke Wilson
Luke Wilson has been a pleasant surprise for the Seattle Seahawks. The fifth-round pick out of Rice has proven to be a good run blocker and is becoming good at catching the ball as well. However, in their last game against the St. Louis Rams, he suffered a left high ankle sprain and had to be carted off the field.
The Seahawks have a bye, so he will have a chance to rest the ankle for a week. Zach Miller is the starting tight end, but he is more of a pass-catching threat than a dual threat like Wilson. If he is able to come back against a poor New Orleans Saints pass defense or a stingy one on the Philadelphia Eagles, he will be key in run blocking for “Beast mode” and making tough catches, especially in the red zone.
13. Tyler Eifert
Tyler Eifert's rookie season has been a huge disappointment to say the least. The Cincinnati Bengals had visions of Rob Gronkowski when they drafted him, but that was not the case. He is still raw, but has shown signs that he can be productive and be a difference-maker.
He will have a chance to redeem himself against a bad San Diego Chargers defense. However, the Chargers are 22nd in touchdowns given up to tight ends. The time to prove himself is now.
12. Bennie Logan
Before the season even began, fans and media around the world counted the Philadelphia Eagles out. Well, they're in the playoffs, and one of the reasons is because of their stout defense anchored by rookie Bennie Logan. However, he will have his work cut out for him, against the fourth-ranked offense in the New Orleans Saints. Pierre Thomas will be a handful to contain as well. Logan and company will have to get to Drew Brees if they have any chance of winning the game. Going up against Brian De La Puente, Ben Grubbs and Jahiri Evans will not be easy.
11. Montee Ball
Montee Ball is another rookie that has been disappointing to some. However, he has shown signs and bursts of the back that he was at Wisconsin. He had 117 yards rushing against the Kansas City Chiefs, and 77 yards rushing and a touchdown the next week against the Tennessee Titans. He will be going up against either a tough defense in the Cincinnati Bengals or a terrible one in the San Diego Chargers.
Ball has to be productive as he platoons with Moreno and keep the defenses honest with a double attack.
10. DaRick Rogers
Da'Rick Rogers was one of the most surprising rookies of the season. He did not get any playing time until Week 14, and what a performance he had, tallying six receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals. That performance earned him the starting job for the rest of the season, especially with a struggling Darius Heyward-Bey. Rogers will have his work cut out for him with Brandon Flowers, Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith covering him.
9. Kenny Stills
The New Orleans Saints have the fourth-ranked offense in the NFL. With Drew Brees as the quarterback, any receiver can have a good season and Kenny Stills is proving that. For the season, he had 32 receptions for 641 yards and five touchdowns. He is fifth amongst all rookie receivers in receiving yards.
Brees now has two deep threats with Stills and Lance Moore. He will be going up against one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles. Stills could have a huge game with his speed against their secondary. Either way, it will be a long day for the Eagles.
8. Aaron Dobson
Aaron Dobson has not had a season to remember. With Tom Brady as his quarterback, he is second amongst all receivers in the league in dropped passes. He has also been plagued by injuries all season. Luckily the New England Patriots have a bye week and he can rest, because he will be needed. The Kansas City Chiefs' secondary is among one of the tops in the league while the Colts have a weak one. He has to hold on to the ball and make plays. More importantly, he has to regain the trust of Brady when it counts he most.
7. Star Lotulelei
Star Lotulelei is having a great defensive season for the Carolina Panthers. The 14th overall pick out of the University of Utah is definitely one of the most underrated rookies in the league. He is one of the main reasons the Panthers have made it to the postseason and have the second-ranked defense in the league.
He is tops at stopping the run, and always seems to be pressuring the quarterback. He is already being compared to Casey Hampton and Haloti Ngata. Lotulelei will be the reason if the Panthers beat the San Francisco 49ers or the Green Bay Packers. Both teams have struggled against opposing defensive linemen, giving up 54 sacks combined during the regular season. He is a star in the making, just like his first name.
6. D.J. Fluker
D.J. Fluker has been the best rookie offensive tackle from the draft all season. He has proven that he can pick up where where Marcus McNeil left off. The Chargers will have a challenge against the passing attack of Andy Dalton. Fluker will be up against the likes of Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap in a hard day's work against tall and long defensive ends.
5. Eric Reid
Eric Reid is having the best season of any defensive back in the league with 77 tackles and four interceptions in the regular season. His skills will be put to the test as they were in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. A healthy Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb, along with Jordy Nelson and James Jones, will make for a long day. Reid will be challenged and will definitely be ready for it.
4. Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen has been the biggest surprise of the 2013 NFL season, with 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. He has more receptions than Antonio Gates and anybody else on the San Diego Chargers. The Cincinnati Bengals have a banged-up secondary and have Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick starting in their place. Allen should have a huge day against them.
3. Eric Fisher
Eric Fisher has been very disappointing as the a first-overall pick. The tackle out of Central Michigan University has struggled since day one. His footwork has been terrible, and opposing defenders blow him off of the ball. However, when players have even more pressure on them, they sometimes succeed -- and that could possibly be what Fisher needs if he is able to play.
He will have the task of defending Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts, and with his recent struggles, that does not bode well for the Kansas City Chiefs. Fisher must regain his confidence back and play like the top pick, or he will be compared to Robert Gallery and Tony Mandarich.
2. Giovani Bernard
Giovani Bernard looked like the second coming of Barry Sanders for the first few weeks of the season. However, as the weeks went on, teams started to stack the box and kept an extra backer as a spy, so he couldn't break away for long gains. The Kansas City Chiefs defensive line has struggled over the last few games. Bernard will have to play a lot better and help spread the field out for Andy Dalton. He averages three catches a game, which will make him a dual threat and even more of a weapon for the Cincinnati Bengals.
1. Eddie Lacy
Next to Keenan Allen, no rookie is having a better season than Green Bay Packers' Eddie Lacy. He is having a Pro Bowl worthy season, and is up for Rookie of the Year with Allen. Lacy started out slow, and then bloomed and has not looked back since. He has 284 carries for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. With Randall Cobb, James Jones and Aaron Rodgers all being hurt at different times, nobody was more important to Green Bay than Lacy. The 49ers have one of the top secondaries in the league, and he will be relied upon to carry the offense, and lead them to victory.