Now that we know where the newest batch of rookies will be playing in 2014, who do you think will be honored as offensive and defensive rookie of the year next season?
- Charles Davis NFL.com
Offensive: Saints' Brandin Cooks | Defensive: Ravens' C.J. Mosley
- Gil Brandt NFL.com
Offensive: Titans' Bishop Sankey | Defensive: Raiders' Khalil Mack
I really liked Sankey as a college player and thought he projected well to the NFL. In fact, I like him better than I did Eddie Lacy at the same point of their careers. The fit with Tennessee couldn't be better. The Titans released Chris Johnson and now Sankey is a plug-and-play guy who will get lots of carries in Ken Whisenhunt's offense. Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead combined for almost 400 carries and more than 100 receptions under Whisenhunt last season in San Diego, so Sankey is sure to get his opportunities. He's good enough to hold off any challengers and produce.
Like Sankey, Mack is a plug-and-play guy who landed with a perfect team. Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver is a mad scientist with schemes. He will take advantage of Mack's unbelievable pass-rushing talents and design game plans around his new defensive rock. I would be surprised if Mack failed to record double-digit sacks as a rookie.
- Chase Goodbread College Football 24/7
Offensive: Bills' Sammy Watkins | Defensive: Cowboys' Demarcus Lawrence
Watkins will have every chance to be the Bills' No. 1 receiver, whereas other top rookie receivers like Mike Evans and Odell Beckham will be sharing action with the likes of Vincent Jackson and Victor Cruz, respectively. If he becomes the go-to guy in Buffalo, other rookies will be hard-pressed to match his production. Watkins' kickoff-return skills could bring an added dimension to his contribution in Buffalo, assuming he earns the role (Buffalo's longest kickoff return last year was just 28 yards).
In losing DeMarcus Ware in free agency to the Denver Broncos and picking up Lawrence of Boise State in the second round of the draft, the Cowboys added a rookie to play Ware's role. The Cowboys' pass rush is a crucial element to its defensive improvement this year, and Lawrence can be at the center of it. Dallas traded up for him, and he was its first pick on the defensive side of the ball after taking Zack Martin in the first round. As such, you can bet there are big immediate plans for Lawrence in Big D.
- Mike Huguenin College Football 24/7
Offensive: Saints' Brandin Cooks | Defensive: Packers' Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
I think Cooks fits perfectly in New Orleans' offense, and I think head coach Sean Payton will move him around to find favorable matchups. Rookie receivers often struggle, but I don't think that will be the case with Cooks, who should become a favorite target of Drew Brees. As for Clinton-Dix, the Packers desperately needed a free safety and they got one when he fell to them at No. 21. He is a heady player who covers a lot of ground, and coordinator Dom Capers will find a way to maximize his positives this fall.
- Bryan Fischer College Football 24/7
Offensive: Browns' Johnny Manziel | Defensive: Vikings' Anthony Barr
The Josh Gordon news doesn't help, but Manziel figures to be one of the first quarterbacks to see game action as a rookie. He'll have better passing numbers than people expect and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan does have experience in coaching a recent rookie of the year winner (Robert Griffin III). If the Browns are even close to playoff contention, it will be hard to go with anybody other than Manziel.
On defense, if you can get to the quarterback early as a rookie, you can be in contention for this award. Barr walks into a good situation with the Vikings and has a head coach that knows how to put him in the right place to create havoc. With six games against high-profile quarterbacks in the division, it's not hard to see Barr making enough highlight plays to earn rookie honors.