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Published: April 29, 2012 at 08:46 p.m.
Updated: Aug. 29, 2012 at 03:20 p.m.

2012 rookie predictions

32 Photos Total

  • Indianapolis Colts 32

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Indianapolis Colts

    No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck is as good as advertised, going on to break many of Peyton Manning’s rookie records -- which causes team owner Jim Irsay to injure his thumbs tweeting about it.

  • Washington Redskins 31

    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    Washington Redskins

    Kirk Cousins will end up starting a game this season because coach Mike Shanahan is bat-crap crazy. Seriously, #shanahanigans is not just for running backs. RG3 will get a reprieve at the end of the year when Shanahan is dismissed and replaced by Jon Gruden.

  • Cleveland Browns 30

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Cleveland Browns

    Brandon Weeden undergoes a rite of passage when he’s required – as all rookies are – to purchase donuts for the entire team. The good news is he earns a senior citizen discount on his purchase, thanks to his advanced age.

  • Minnesota Vikings 29

    Alix Drawec/NFL

    Minnesota Vikings

    Adrian Peterson’s return is boosted by the dominating play of left tackle Matt Kalil who enjoys a standout rookie season. But the lack of success by the Vikings as a team brings Kalil close to becoming the NFC’s version of Joe Thomas.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars 28

    Paul Battaglia/Associated Press

    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Surprise, the Jaguars have drafted the NFL rookie of the year! No, it's not Justin Blackmon, but instead, punter Bryan Anger, who sets all sorts of records for punting.

  • Dallas Cowboys 27

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Dallas Cowboys

    Morris Claiborne has a huge impact on the Cowboys this season, helping an improved defense lead the team to an NFC East division title. The bad news for Tony Romo is that he’s now out of excuses.

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26

    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Former Boise State running back Doug Martin becomes a three-down back for the Buccaneers -- the final act of revenge on LeGarrette Blount for his punch on Martin's former Broncos teammate Byron Hout.

  • Miami Dolphins 25

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Miami Dolphins

    Networks fight amongst one another to get Dolphins’ games on the air. Not because the team is playing well, but for more crowd shots of Lauren Tannehill.

  • Carolina Panthers 24

    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Carolina Panthers

    Luke Kuechly avoids calling himself an icon and entertainer after he joined the Panthers as the team's first-round pick, but his play contributes to the Panthers winning the NFC South. Yes, I'm still on board with the Panthers winning the division.

  • Buffalo Bills 23

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Buffalo Bills

    Stephon Gilmore makes his presence known in the AFC when he intercepts a pass from Tom Brady the first time they play. I was going to say he would intercept a pass from Tannehill, too, but everybody is going to do that.

  • Kansas City Chiefs 22

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Kansas City Chiefs

    The Chiefs have had some struggles finding the right fit for the middle of their defense, but Dontari Poe ends up challenging for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

  • Philadelphia Eagles 21

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Philadelphia Eagles

    The Eagles will take years to develop third-round pick QB Nick Foles. Then they will turn around and swindle some poor quarterback-desperate team for a couple of great draft picks despite Foles never doing anything of note on the field. Yeah, probably the Cardinals again.

  • Arizona Cardinals 20

    Matt York/Associated Press

    Arizona Cardinals

    Cardinals wideout Michael Floyd becomes noted, not for his receiving skills, but for his tremendous blocking ability. And by default, earns a rather dubious title of being the best blocker on the team – including the offensive linemen.

  • St. Louis Football Club 19

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    St. Louis Football Club

    St. Louis got a steal in Michael Brockers, helping free up defensive end Chris Long, who improves on his 13 sacks from a year ago to earn a Pro Bowl bid. The team’s defense becomes one of the NFL’s best, and St. Louis challenges for a playoff spot but eventually falls short.

  • Seattle Seahawks 18

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Seattle Seahawks

    Forget Tim Tebow, Seattle's rookie QB Russell Wilson becomes the en vogue, change-of-pace signal caller in the NFL in 2012. The Seahawks will still finish at 7-9. And Pete Carroll will be the coach at Arizona State.

  • New York Jets 17

    Alix Drawec/NFL

    New York Jets

    The Jets added two major projects onto their roster with Quinton Coples and Stephen Hill. But not to worry Jets fans, your team has the solid locker room that will help these guys succeed. And yes, I realize that's more of a statement than a prediction, but still.

  • Cincinnati Bengals 16

    Mike Carlson/Associated Press

    Cincinnati Bengals

    Everybody remembers the story of Mohamed Sanu being pranked during the NFL Draft, but if you’re looking for a rookie receiver to excel for the Bengals, look no further than Marvin Jones.

  • San Diego Chargers 15

    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    San Diego Chargers

    A.J. Smith channeled his 2004 self with an inspired draft that included first-round pick Melvin Ingram. The Chargers go 10-6 to earn a wild card spot, which saves the jobs of Smith and head coach Norv Turner. Chargers fans don't know how to react.

  • Chicago Bears 14

    Rich Glickstein/Associated Press

    Chicago Bears

    The Bears greatly improve their offense with the trade for Brandon Marshall and using a second-round pick on Alshon Jeffery. And Jay Cutler responds with a Pro Bowl-like season and has better fantasy numbers than Peyton Manning.

  • Tennessee Titans 13

    Alix Drawec/NFL

    Tennessee Titans

    Wide receiver Kendall Wright makes Titans fans forget all about Kenny Britt, recording 58 receptions for 947 and six touchdowns during his rookie season.

  • New England Patriots 12

    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    New England Patriots

    Chandler Jones becomes an instant force for the Patriots’ defense. But this time it’s the offense (in particular the O-line) that lets the Patriots down this season.

  • Detroit Lions 11

    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Detroit Lions

    First-round pick Riley Reiff will celebrate his all-rookie season and a team playoff berth with a "Footloose"-like dance in the South Dakota barn where he spent his draft night.

  • Pittsburgh Steelers 10

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Thanks to the unfortunate injury to David DeCastro, the Steelers are going to be forced to abandon plans to run the ball, having to air it out. The Steelers fail to make the playoffs.

  • Houston Texans 9

    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    Houston Texans

    Whether he goes on to play in a Pro Bowl or not, Whitney Mercilus joins another exclusive club -- the most intimidating names in the NFL list. The Texans defense continues to get better as the team wins consecutive AFC South titles.

  • Green Bay Packers 8

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Green Bay Packers

    With the addition of Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy, the Packers defense once again regains its dominant form from 2010, when the team won the Super Bowl.

  • San Francisco 49ers 7

    Paul Sakuma/Associated Press

    San Francisco 49ers

    49ers fans complaining about the draft pick of A.J. Jenkins would do well to remember their feelings after San Francisco drafted Aldon Smith. Although, Smith wasn't dependent on Alex Smith throwing him the ball nor did he have Randy Moss as a mentor.

  • New York Giants 6

    Alix Drawec/NFL

    New York Giants

    The Giants replaced Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham with David Wilson and Rueben Randle. Seriously, how do the Super Bowl champions do that? But watch, the Giants will be that team that improves its record (to 10-6 this year) but fails to make the playoffs.

  • Baltimore Ravens 5

    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    Baltimore Ravens

    OLB Courtney Upshaw will be regarded as one of the best defensive players in the league only because the Ravens pick him. Oh wait, this already happened.

  • Denver Broncos 4

    Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

    Denver Broncos

    Hey, when you have a 36-year old quarterback who missed a full season because of neck surgery, you have to back him up with a rookie quarterback whose biggest knock is his inexperience. Brock Osweiler will be forced into action at some point during the 2012 season. (And yes, I know they have Caleb Hanie.)

  • Atlanta Falcons 3

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    Atlanta Falcons

    The Falcons beef up the offensive line thanks to the picks of Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes, but neither will be enough to slow the inevitable decline of starting running back Michael Turner as the Falcons fail to reach the postseason.

  • New Orleans Saints 2

    Dave Martin/Associated Press

    New Orleans Saints

    Wide receiver Nick Toon will be off to a slow start, thanks in part to a foot injury. But Toon catches his stride and becomes an integral part of the Saints’ offense in the second-half of the season.

  • Oakland Raiders 1

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Oakland Raiders

    The Raiders have a dearth of receivers, so look for Juron Criner to get some playing time. Though, Criner doesn’t fit the figure of a typical Raiders receiver, as he runs a 4.68 40-yard dash.

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