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Stiff competition for Rookie of Year on both sides of the ball

  • By NFL.com
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The top two picks from the 2010 draft -- Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh -- won Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Years honors last season. Who will walk away with the hardware from the 2011 draft? We asked our analysts to weigh in.

Michael Lombardi: QB could emerge

Offensive ROY: Because he is the only quarterback on the Bengals roster and will play, Andy Dalton is my favorite for the offensive honor. Dalton is smart and will be able to get on the field right away, thus allowing him to make an impact.

Defensive ROY: I would be disappointed if Cardinals first-round pick Patrick Peterson was not the best defensive rookie. He will make plays on the ball and once he has it in his hands, he is like an offensive player.

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Steve Wyche: All about opportunity

Offensive ROY: Running back Daniel Thomas. This 230-pound bruiser is going to get a lot of touches for Miami. He's also going to a run-heavy system and it will remain that way. The Dolphins have a solid offensive line that could be improved with the addition of first-round pick interior lineman Mike Pouncey.

Defensive ROY: Cornerback Patrick Peterson is going to get opportunities right away in Arizona and he'll be targeted. What's good for him is he's either facing division foes with suspect quarterbacks -- except for Sam Bradford, who is still far from a finished product -- or suspect receivers.

Vic Carucci: Top of draft will provide production

Offensive ROY: Wide receiver Julio Jones. After trading five picks to select him with the sixth overall choice, the Falcons have every intention of making Jones a major factor in their offense. Matt Ryan's big passing arm should take full advantage of Jones' speed. And Jones and Roddy White should draw coverage away from each other.

Defensive ROY: Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. He might very well be the best player in the draft, period. His tremendous power and athleticism will likely do wonders for the Bills' dreadful run defense while also upgrading Buffalo's ability to get pressure. Dareus is also versatile enough to play anywhere on the line.

Jason La Canfora: Consecutive awards for Lions

Offensive ROY: There are some scouts who believe Greg Little can be better than Julio Jones. Little instantly becomes a weapon in Cleveland and its top target. Colt McCoy will find ways to get him the ball, and that power run game will take some pressure off the pass attack. Sure, the transition to the pros will be tricky and there might not be much time to develop in a truncated offseason, but I like his chances to provide an immediate reward.

Defensive ROY: Could Nick Fairley have possibly joined a better group? I don't think so. These individual awards are often about collective position-group success. Fairley joins a monstrous unit on Detroit's defensive line. Coach Jim Schwartz frees up his front four to attack the quarterback, not blitzing much, and with Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril already causing problems, this kid can pick up scraps. I like a second straight Defensive Rookie of the Year for the Lions.

Pat Kirwan: SEC picks are best bet

Offensive ROY: I don't think the quarterbacks will have the kind of season that will warrant the nod. I do think a number of the rookie offensive tackles will play well but won't be recognized. The guy with the best chance might be running back Mark Ingram. Everyone playing the Saints defends Drew Brees and the passing attack first. Ingram should get some great opportunities to run the ball.

Defensive ROY: Patrick Peterson will make an impact for the Cardinals in coverage and as a return man. Unless Von Miller comes up with 10 sacks, Peterson will have a great chance to win the award. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the other side, Peterson will get plenty of chances for interceptions.

Charles Davis: Second-rounders could emerge

Offensive ROY: Wide receiver Titus Young. With all the attention Calvin Johnson gets in Detroit, this lightning bolt from Boise State will get his touches and make big plays.

Defensive ROY: Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers. Surprise! Long mentioned as a possible No. 1 overall pick, the Bucs scooped him up in the second round. This sack specialist is burning to prove everyone in the league wrong.

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