Joe Haden—CB—Cleveland Browns
Frankly I’m a little surprised that Haden was not selected to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. Not that the players selected as starters weren’t deserving, including fellow rookie Devin McCourty, but that Haden was all the way down as a 4th alternate is a little shocking. Haden put together a stat-sheet-filling day this past week versus Baltimore with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and 1 interception. The 1st round pick from Florida is now tied for 2nd in the NFL with 6 interceptions, and tied for 1st amongst rookies with McCourty. His 17 passes defended are good for 5th in the league. It was probably disappointing for Haden and Browns fans that he was not selected to the Pro Bowl, but he shouldn’t worry too much as I see many trips to the game in his future.
Andre Roberts—WR—Arizona Cardinals
The best day of his young career saw Andre Roberts aid in the defeat of the Dallas Cowboys last week. The 3rd round pick from The Citadel caught 5 passes for 110 yards, including a 74 yard touchdown catch that provided John Skelton with his first career touchdown pass. It also provided the NFL with its first ever Fordham to The Citadel touchdown connection in league history. Roberts has managed only 20 catches on the season, but once the quarterback situation in Arizona calms down, he looks to be an exciting player capable of making big plays as a situational-type receiver.
Tim Tebow—QB—Denver Broncos
I’m not ready to eat my words on Tebow just yet, but I have to say that I was fairly impressed with his play in a win versus Houston on Sunday. But then again, it’s the Houston pass defense. Regardless, the 1st round pick from Florida put on a good display completing 16 of 29 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown, good for a quarterback rating of 89.4. In addition, Tebow carried the ball 10 times for 27 yards and another rushing touchdown. I’d like to see what he does versus some stiffer competition, and over the course of a season, but I think as many Denver fans probably do too, that Tebow has earned the chance to be the starter next season.
Sam Bradford—QB—St. Louis Rams
I don’t know what to say about Bradford that I haven’t already said. I hope that people realize how impressive this rookie has been. Keep in mind that St. Louis won just 1 game last year, and Bradford has them on the verge of the playoffs. Not many rookies are able to accomplish such a feat. And in a big game with lots of implications versus San Francisco, Bradford was golden again completing 28 of 37 passes (75.7%!) for 292 yards and a touchdown. That’s a quarterback rating of 107.0 in case you were wondering. On the year, the 1st round pick from Oklahoma has passed for 3,357 yards and 18 touchdowns. Not bad rookie, not bad.
LeGarrette Blount—RB—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Bradford above, I’m not sure what I can say about Blount at this point that I haven’t already mentioned. He continues to impress me with his athleticism and toughness, and was flat-out dominant in the second half of Sunday’s win versus Seattle. On the day, he carried the ball 18 times for 164 yards, good for a 9.1 yards-per-carry average. The undrafted free agent from Oregon has now compiled 182 carries for 941 yards on the season, over 5 yards-per-carry. If Blount stays out of trouble, with his combination of size, speed and quickness, he will be a top-10 back in the NFL next year. Mark it down.
Shout-Outs To: Thaddeus Gibson, LB, San Francisco 49ers (1st 2 career tackles, 1st career forced fumble), O’Brien Schofield, LB, Arizona Cardinals (1st career sack), John Skelton, QB, Arizona Cardinals (1st career touchdown pass), Daryl Washington, LB, Arizona Cardinals (1st career forced fumble), Larry Asante, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1st career tackle), Dezmon Briscoe, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1st 2 career catches), Randy Phillips, S, Detroit Lions (1st career forced fumble), Terrence Austin, WR, Washington Redskins (1st career catch), Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs (1st career touchdown), Travis Ivey, DT, Cleveland Browns (1st career tackle), Vincent Rey, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (1st 2 career tackles), Dane Fletcher, LB, New England Patriots (1st career interception), Kyle Love, DT, New England Patriots (1st career sack), Mickey Shuler, TE, Miami Dolphins (1st 2 career catches), Clay Harbor, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (1st career touchdown catch)