Archive for November, 2012

In honor of Thanksgiving, Chris Tripodi is back with a “turkey” version of the Rookie Report. With just a couple of uncovered rookies making an impact in Week 11, the rest of this week’s report consists of high draft picks who have done little to justify their first-round status, regardless of the reason. Top-5 pick Justin Blackmon would have certainly made this list if he hadn’t been covered in Week 9 and subsequently exploded with 236 receiving yards on Sunday. Maybe we’ll see a few of the players profiled below follow in Blackmon’s footsteps and break out in the next few weeks.

A.J. Jenkins (WR-SF)

San Francisco’s first-round pick in April has been arguably the biggest first-year disappointment in the NFL, as the rookie wide receiver has yet to see an NFL snap and has been a mainstay on the 49ers’ inactive list every week along with second-round pick LaMichael James. The 49ers have one of the NFL’s deepest backfields which explains James being inactive, but outside of Michael Crabtree their receivers have been nothing to write home about.

Usually a wide receiver taken that early in the draft would have an opportunity to make an impact on the active roster for a team without star wide receivers. Jenkins was a surprise first-round pick to many who projected him as a second- or third-rounder, including us at Draft Insider. While he ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the combine he isn’t quite that fast on the field and it’s obvious that he hasn’t shown enough in practice to prove he can bolster the team’s receiving corps.

Jenkins has solid receiver skills but doesn’t excel in any one aspect of the game. He runs solid routes and has good hands but isn’t particularly big at 6-0, 192 pounds and while he improved in his final two seasons at Illinois and is supposedly developing in practice, he’s yet to make any impact at the NFL level. It doesn’t look promising for him to do so for the rest of the season either unless San Francisco clinches a playoff berth early and decides to rest its starters. With his inability to crack an average group of receivers, it’s difficult to see Jenkins developing into an NFL starter and the early signs are pointing directly towards a bust.

Juron Criner (WR-Oak)

After catching just four passes all season, the Raiders’ fifth-round pick out of Arizona had 3 receptions for 23 yards and his first NFL touchdown in Sunday’s loss to the Saints. While the score came from three yards out in a 38-10 blowout, Criner was involved throughout the game with Oakland facing an early double-digit deficit and Carson Palmer being forced to the air.

The former Wildcat was third on the team with six targets on Sunday after being thrown to just nine times all season and while the increasing snaps are nice, the Raiders still have a logjam of receivers behind Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore, including undrafted rookie Rod Streater who made the report in Week 9.

Like Streater, Criner is a tall (6-3, 220) possession receiver who is not your typical speedy Oakland draft pick at a skill position. Criner runs in the mid-4.6 range but his size makes him a difficult cover in the red zone, where he scored 22 touchdowns in his final two years at Arizona playing with Nick Foles. He has good body control in the air, strong hands and focus and the ability to make plays after the catch. Despite his lack of burst, Criner can develop into a decent second receiver in an offense that will utilize his superior size in the red zone.

Riley Reiff (T-Det)

The 23rd overall pick in April’s draft, Reiff has been stuck behind veteran left tackle Jeff Backus on the depth chart for the entire 2012 season. This was actually what the Lions envisioned when they drafted Reiff, allowing him to learn the left tackle position from a 12-year veteran who had made 176 consecutive starts heading into the season.

That streak stood at 186 starts before this week but it ended on Thanksgiving with Backus sitting due to a hamstring injury suffered in Week 11’s game against the Packers. This led to an opportunity for Reiff to step into the starting lineup for Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Texans and their impressive front seven.

The 6-6, 313-pound former Iowa star is a better pass blocker than a run blocker, making him a good fit protecting Matthew Stafford’s blind side on a team that tends to be pass happy at times. Reiff is a fundamentally sound blocker with good footwork and awareness of what’s going on around him along the line. He has room to grow into his frame as well and improve his run blocking strength to become a more complete lineman but will certainly experience his share of ups and downs while Backus remains sidelined.

Shea McClellin (DE-Chi)

The Bears used the 19th overall selection on McClellin in April’s draft and the early returns haven’t quite been worthy of a top-20 draft pick. That assessment may not be totally fair to the Boise State rookie with the success of the Bears’ defense this season and the players ahead of him on the depth chart, Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije, who have been extremely productive and haven’t allowed for McClellin to see much time on the field.

In his limited snaps this season, McClellin does have 9 tackles and 2.5 sacks in nine games played. He missed Monday night’s game with San Francisco due to a concussion but returned to practice this week and is on track to suit up against Minnesota in Week 12. Even so, he will still be third on the defensive end depth chart and see just a few snaps behind the veterans ahead of him.

It’s difficult to envision a scenario where McClellin cracks the starting lineup this season but Idonije is on a one-year contract, meaning the rookie may have a bigger role in 2013. With a starting job, the former Bronco will certainly have more opportunities to show off his quick first step and ability in pursuit. He performed well at multiple linebacker and end positions in offseason workouts and while the Bears look ready to use the 6-3, 260-pound defender at defensive end, he has the ability to play multiple positions in an NFL front seven.

Kendall Reyes (DT-SD)

With starting defensive ends Corey Liuget and Vaughn Martin playing through injuries, Reyes saw some extra work in the San Diego 3-4 defense this week and took advantage with two fourth-quarter sacks of Peyton Manning and a late tackle with the game essentially out of reach. It’s possible that more strong performances from Reyes could land the second-round pick out of Connecticut a starting job eventually at the expense of Martin.

Reyes’ first sack came on second-and-10 after Denver drove deep into San Diego territory, setting up a third-and-long and making the Broncos settle for a field goal to go up 11. After Philip Rivers threw an interception, Reyes picked up another sack on the next drive to push the Broncos out of field goal range temporarily, but Manning completed a 30-yard pass on third-and-18 to extend the drive and pick up another field goal for his offense.

At 6-4, 300 pounds, the former Huskies’ star tackle has the potential to be a solid run stopper as a 3-4 defensive end opposite Liuget. He had just 4.5 sacks as a senior but was a dominant and disruptive force whose 4.82 speed plays very well for a player of his size. Reyes’ athleticism, strength and explosiveness were on display in the fourth quarter against Denver and if he can continue to impress with limited snaps he may break into the starting lineup at some point this season, especially if San Diego falls further out of the playoff picture.

Melvin Ingram (LB-SD)

The 18th overall pick in this year’s draft, Ingram has struggled to make the big impact many people including us at Draft Insider projected. Through ten NFL games, he has just 22 tackles (13 solo) and a half sack despite expectations that he would at least help pressure the quarterback on passing downs. Ingram started against Denver on Sunday but made just 3 tackles in the Chargers’ 30-23 loss.

The rookie out of Clemson had yet to supplant 10-year veteran Jarret Johnson on the depth chart before the Denver game despite being more talented and it remains to be seen whether he will continue to start over Johnson with San Diego’s season quickly spiraling in the wrong direction. Regardless of his role, it’s obvious Ingram still has a lot of work to do on his overall game and not just his pass rushing.

Coming into the draft, Ingram was rising up draft boards and it was somewhat surprising to see him fall out of the top 15 considering his talent level and production as a senior, when he played at an All-American level with 15 sacks. Ingram is big (6-2, 265) and athletic with 4.7 speed and an explosive first step. He has struggled with his play recognition and getting beyond the point of attack so far in his rookie season and while he may be more of a project than initially thought, there is still a lot of upside in his game.

Whitney Mercilus (LB-Hou)

Stuck behind Connor Barwin and Brooks Reed, Houston’s 2009 and 2011 second-round draft picks, the Texans’ first-round pick in 2012 has seen limited action but has been more effective than most of the players on this week’s report. Mercilus has just 13 tackles (11 solo) and 3 sacks on the season, but 7 of those tackles and all 3 sacks have come in the team’s last four games as Mercilus has picked up his play of late.

While his recent stats look nice, all but one of those tackles came in Week 7 and Week 9 when the Texans beat the Ravens and Bills by a combined score of 64-22. In their last two games, both close wins against the Bears and Jaguars, Mercilus has done little to contribute to the victories. Unlike some of the other players on this list however, the 26th overall pick in April was viewed as a project who needed some time to develop and landed in a great situation for that in Houston.

Mercilus wasn’t a highly regarded prospect before his junior season but he exploded onto the NCAA scene in 2011 with 22.5 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles and earned All-American honors. Those numbers show the upside that Houston is trying to refine working behind Barwin and Reed and at 6-4, 260 pounds with 4.65 speed, Mercilus has the potential to be one of the league’s premier pass rushers and wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage. He’s shown flashes so far this season and if that continues, he can certainly live up to his draft position down the line.

Dre Kirkpatrick (CB-Cin)

A member of the 2012 Alabama Crimson Tide defense that produced multiple first-round picks in April’s NFL Draft including him with the 17th overall pick, Kirkpatrick missed the entire preseason and the first seven games of the season after suffering a knee injury before training camp. By the time he returned for Week 9, the Bengals’ secondary was already set and he’s seen limited action in nickel and dime packages.

Before his injury, Kirkpatrick was expected to compete for playing time with starter Nate Clements and nickel back Terence Newman, but his injury set him back and may end up costing him his entire rookie season as it seems unlikely the Bengals will put him right into the lineup in the middle of a playoff push. Newman missed the second half of Sunday’s game with a concussion, which allowed Kirkpatrick to see a few extra snaps and make 2 solo tackles in a blowout win of Kansas City.

Newman is expected back this week, which will push Kirkpatrick back to dime and specials teams duty for the time being. At 6-2, 190 pounds with 4.5 speed, the former Alabama star was an aggressive shutdown corner in the SEC and has starting potential at the NFL level. His development has been slowed thanks to his early injury but with a strong showing in the season’s second half, Kirkpatrick could find himself starting opposite Leon Hall for the Bengals in 2013.

Chris Tripodi has been writing for Draft Insider since 2009, compiling Rookie Reports and Draft Reviews and conducting draft interviews with NFL prospects. He has been a sportswriter for multiple newspapers and previously worked at ESPN and with the Rochester Red Wings, the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate. Follow him on Twitter at @christripodi and check out his blog at http://christripodisports.blogspot.com.

Four third-round picks highlight this week’s first-year player profiles, including one who hadn’t seen the field since the preseason and will be stepping into a starting role in Week 11. This edition of the Rookie Report also includes an offensive lineman for the first time this season as well as two players who were drafted out of FCS schools. Chris Tripodi returns with a little bit of everything this week.

Nick Foles (QB-Phi)

With the shocking news that Michael Vick is set to miss one or more games due to a “significant concussion,” in the words of head coach Andy Reid, Foles is set to make his first NFL start on Sunday against the Redskins. The rookie third-round pick from Arizona had a great preseason, completing 40-of-62 passes for 553 yards, 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and the calls for him to start were loud even before Vick’s injury thanks to Philadelphia’s poor play on offense.

Foles had his moments in relief of Vick on Sunday, hitting Jeremy Maclin for a 44-yard touchdown that showed off his NFL-caliber arm and patience in the pocket. He also threw a pass behind one of his receivers that was deflected and intercepted by Brandon Carr, who returned it for a touchdown, and tossed a screen right in the hands of linebacker Anthony Spencer for another score that was nullified by a defensive penalty.

The 6-6 Foles showed good poise in the face of pressure, something he will need working behind an offensive line that couldn’t keep the league’s fastest quarterback out of harm’s way. Unlike Vick, Foles is not very mobile or elusive inside the pocket and doesn’t have a quick release. Anybody who watched Foles against Dallas saw everything he has to offer, which is the size to stand tall in the pocket, the arm strength to make plays down the field but poor footwork and mechanical flaws that will lead to mistakes and inconsistencies.

Luckily for Foles, he has excellent receivers in Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson and one of the NFL’s best two-way running backs in LeSean McCoy. Reid would be wise to keep the ball in McCoy’s hands and use Foles’ arm strength to stretch the field with play-action passes while limiting complicated reads for the rookie. With rumors that the Eagles may shut Vick down if his concussion symptoms don’t subside quickly, Philadelphia fans may be getting the glimpse of the future they so sorely wanted. Foles has all the skills to start at the NFL level with proper coaching but his performance from Sunday shows he’s nowhere near ready to carry an offense.

Mohamed Sanu (WR-Cin)

A third-round pick out of Rutgers, Sanu did not see many snaps early in the season and found himself behind names like Andrew Hawkins and Armon Binns on the Bengals’ depth chart. Since being a healthy inactive in Week 6, the former Scarlet Knight has seen his playing time steadily increase and he was on the field for 61 percent of the team’s offensive snaps on Sunday, the most time he’s seen this season.

Sanu took advantage of his increased role with 4 receptions for 47 yards and his first career touchdown on an acrobatic grab in tight coverage. Viewed as a solid possession receiver coming into the draft at 6-2, 210 with 4.5 speed, Sanu showed his ability to be an effective target in the red zone and lived up to his reputation as a player who can make tough catches in traffic on Sunday.

If Sanu continues to emerge in the Cincinnati passing game it should open up more opportunities for A.J. Green, who is starting to get the Calvin Johnson treatment with consistent double coverage shifting his way. The Bengals drafted Sanu to take the pressure off Green and give Andy Dalton another big target in the passing game. If Week 10 is any indication of the future, the former Rutgers standout could do just that for Cincinnati.

Jarius Wright (WR-Min)

An injury to Percy Harvin opened up an opportunity for Wright to be active for the first time in 2012 and the fourth-rounder from Arkansas took advantage. His first career reception went for 54 yards down to the Detroit 1-yard line and two plays later Christian Ponder found Wright in the endzone for his first career touchdown to put Minnesota up 7-0 after their first drive of the game.

Wright caught just one pass for 8 yards the rest of the game and was completely shut out of the passing game in the second half, but one would think his early success would lead to an increased role when Minnesota returns from their bye next week. However, head coach Leslie Frazier has implied that if Harvin returns healthy for Week 12, Wright may not make the active roster despite his playmaking ability.

At just 5-10, 180 pounds, Wright’s lack of size is a detriment to his upside but he has 4.4 speed that he showed on the Vikings’ first drive against the Lions. The former Razorback is extremely quick and dangerous with the ball in his hands much like Harvin, and using the two of them on the field together could cause headaches for opposing defensive coordinators. Wright may have to impress in practice over the new two weeks to stay on the active roster but if he does, he could be a great slot weapon and gadget player for an offense that struggles at times outside of Harvin and Adrian Peterson.

Brian Quick (WR-StL)

With fellow rookie Chris Givens being suspended for Week 10 for violating team rules, Quick saw increased snaps as the team’s fourth receiver. Even with more playing time the rookie from the Appalachian State had just one ball thrown his way, but it went for an early 36-yard touchdown on a busted coverage to give St. Louis a 7-0 lead in a game that eventually tied, 24-24.

Big things were expected from Quick this season after he was drafted with the first pick in the second round in April but he has been the second best rookie wide receiver on the team behind Givens, who was taken 63 picks later. The adjustment to the NFL hasn’t been easy coming from an FCS school and with Danny Amendola finally healthy again, Quick finds himself buried on the depth chart at the team’s fifth receiver.

At 6-3, 220 pounds with 4.5 speed, Quick plays big but got away with a slow release off the line and sloppy route running against low-level competition in college. Despite his size he’s at his best working the underneath routes and will need to continue to improve his route running if he expects to find success at the NFL level. He has starting potential down the line, but it just may not be realized as quickly as some expected.

Matt Kalil (T-Min)

The fourth overall pick in April behind studs Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Trent Richardson, Kalil has been a stud in his own right protecting Christian Ponder’s blind side and has made the entire Minnesota offensive line better. Adrian Peterson is piling up yardage at an absurd rate and while we know how talented Peterson is, it helps when you add a player of Kalil’s caliber in front of him.

Kalil wasn’t known as a dominant run blocker at USC but he was certainly very good and has continued to be productive in that aspect at the NFL level. His calling card entering the league was his pass protection and he certainly has not disappointed so far in 2012, as he didn’t allow a sack in his first four career games and has accelerated Christian Ponder’s development by allowing him to be far more comfortable in the pocket.

With great size at 6-7, 305 pounds and a sub-5.00 40-yard dash, Kalil is a physical specimen with good footwork who uses his hands well to keep pass rusher at bay. He quickly gets into position after the snap, moves well laterally to protect the edge and stays aware of the action around him, rarely letting a defender sneak by him. Kalil has stepped right into one of the toughest positions to play in the NFL and is already making a big impact for the 6-4 Vikings. He should only get better with experience and it looks like multiple Pro Bowls could be in Kalil’s future.

Lavonte David (LB-TB)

The rookie second-round pick from Nebraska started the season extremely well by recording at least 5 tackles in each of his first seven career games, including a 14-tackle performance in Week 4 that earned him a spot in the Rookie Report. After making just 2 tackles and struggling mightily against the Vikings in Week 8, David has rebounded with his two best performances of the season and is a big reason Tampa Bay sits in the thick of the NFC Wild Card race at 5-4.

David made 16 tackles (14 solo, 1 for loss) against the Raiders in Week 9 and was a tackling machine again last week against San Diego with another 14 tackles (13 solo, 1 for loss). In those two games, David has made 30 of his 81 tackles on the season which puts him tied for fourth in the NFL and second with 67 solo tackles. While the tackles are great, he has yet to force a fumble, intercept a pass and has just one pass defended this year.

Other than a lack of big plays, the only real knock on David is the same as it was when he was previously profiled: size (6-0, 233). That weakness has been masked by Tampa Bay playing the rookie on the weak side, where he can use his ability to quickly read the play and his 4.58 speed to chase it down. More than halfway through the season, David looks to be picking up steam for a playoff push rather than hitting the rookie wall and definitely has the ability to keep up his high level of play.

Corey White (CB-NO)

A fifth-round pick out of Samford, White has been a key part of the Saints’ nickel and dime packages so far in his rookie season. He came up with his first career interception on Sunday on a deep pass thrown over the middle by Matt Ryan on third-and-10 two plays after deflecting a first-down pass intended for Harry Douglas. Along with that drive, White made 3 tackles on the day and had another pass breakup as well.

One of White tackles came on Atlanta’s second drive of the game but ended being huge for the Saints. After Drew Brees was intercepted deep in his own territory, Atlanta ran Michael Turner off right tackle on third-and-1 but White was there to make the stop for a loss in the backfield and force the Falcons to settle for a field goal in a game they would eventually lose by four points.

Playing both cornerback and safety in college, White works hard to get off blocks and stop the run, wraps up well and shows the ability to bring down runners consistently in the open field. He’s physical, quick and has good hands as well as being a special teams standout. At 6-0, 205 pounds with 4.46 speed, White has the physical skills of a starting NFL corner but struggles with positioning against taller receivers. At the very least White will be a very good special teamer and can fill in as a nickel back but if he continues to develop as quickly as he did in college, he may play his way into a starting role in the future.

Trumaine Johnson (CB-StL)

With Janoris Jenkins suspended for a violation of team rules, Johnson drew the start for the Rams in Week 10 over fourth-year player Bradley Fletcher and tied his season high with 4 solo tackles in a tie game against the 49ers. Two of those tackles came after 13- and 20-yard completions for San Francisco on an early fourth-quarter drive that led to a touchdown, while his fourth tackle helped stop Vernon Davis for a minimal gain.

Johnson left injured after that play and his status for Week 11 is unknown at this time. Even if he can play, it’s likely that Jenkins will be back on the field next week and Johnson would be relegated to a nickel or dime role along with Fletcher as he didn’t exactly stand out in his starting opportunity on Sunday. Johnson is very similar to Jenkins in that both are extremely talented yet came with off-the-field baggage, but Jenkins’ experience playing in the SEC has made him the more NFL-ready corner.

The second FCS player selected by the Rams in the draft and profiled in this report, Johnson hasn’t seen much more success than Brian Quick and, like Quick, has first-year competition at his position from another talented rookie. Opponents avoided looking his way at the lower college level and at 6-2, 205 with 4.51 speed, he has the size and physical talents to play both cornerback and safety in the NFL. He’s a well-rounded player who defends the run as well as he defends the pass and given time to develop, he can turn into a solid NFL player at either position.

Chris Tripodi has been writing for Draft Insider since 2009, compiling Rookie Reports and Draft Reviews and conducting draft interviews with NFL prospects. He has been a sportswriter for multiple newspapers and previously worked at ESPN and with the Rochester Red Wings, the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate. Follow him on Twitter at @christripodi and check out his blog at http://christripodisports.blogspot.com.

Two historic offensive performances headline this week’s Rookie Report, as two first-round picks are proving they were well worth their draft slot in April. Two first-round receivers made the cut as well this week, but their performances have been nothing but disappointing throughout the first half of the 2012 season. Chris Tripodi throws in a couple undrafted free agents as well as two mid-rounders to fill out his Week 9 Rookie Report.

Andrew Luck (QB-Ind)

Just a year after Cam Newton set an NFL rookie record with 422 passing yards, Luck broke it with a 433-yard performance where he completed 30 of his 48 passes and threw for 2 touchdowns in the Colts’ win over Miami. Along with a place in the record books, this performance also earned Luck AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors as his already-building legend continues to grow.

While Luck has just 10 passing touchdowns in the first half of the season to go along with 8 interceptions, he has 12 total touchdowns (3 rushing) and just 5 interceptions since a 3-interception performance in Week 1 against the Bears, whose defense has been victimizing opponents all season. Luck has also been extremely comfortable playing on his home field, with 8 passing touchdowns and just 2 interceptions in five games at Lucas Oil Field.

Luck was billed as the next Peyton Manning heading into this year’s draft and ironically, both quarterbacks have led their teams to 5-3 records and have 2,404 passing yards this season. While Robert Griffin III stole the show early in the season and made the Redskins look smart for trading up to draft him, Luck has been the more consistent passer by far and is making the Colts organization look good for resisting the temptation to draft Griffin III with the top spot in April. Indianapolis fans have to consider themselves lucky to go from a Hall of Famer in Manning to a star like Luck that has the potential to find his way to Canton as well.

Doug Martin (RB-TB)

Speaking of rookies setting records, Martin set a Buccaneers’ franchise mark with 251 rushing yards on Sunday against Oakland as the former Boise State star became the first player in NFL history to score three rushing touchdowns of 45 yards or more in a game. Martin also became just the second NFL player to rush for 250 yards and 4 touchdowns in a game and his 486 yards from scrimmage over the past two weeks are the most in the NFL since Hall of Famer Walter Payton in 1977.

After a slow start to the season that saw his rushing totals drop in each of the first four weeks, Martin had shown signs of breaking out even before the Oakland game and was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Month for October. He had just 31 rushing yards at halftime of Sunday’s game and it looked like the loss of All-Pro guard Carl Nicks to a season-ending toe injury the week before might bring Martin back down to Earth.

Instead, Martin put together a second half for the ages and helped Tampa Bay dismantle the Raiders and move to 4-4 on the season. The big game pushed the first-round rookie up to third in the NFL in rushing yards and even if he doesn’t maintain that pace, he’s proven to be a very effective weapon catching passes out of the backfield as well. Although I likened Martin’s skill set to Hall of Famer Curtis Martin after Week 1, his short, stocky build (5-9, 215) has people now comparing him to current Ravens star Ray Rice. If Martin has the career of either of those two backs, the Bucs turned a great profit with the 31st overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Justin Blackmon (WR-Jac)

Many outlets including Draft insider compared Blackmon to Terrell Owens coming out of college. Through eight games, Blackmon has been a huge disappointment with just 23 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown. The good news for the 5th overall pick is that the comparison to Owens still holds, as the mercurial ex-Pro Bowler caught just 35 passes for 520 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first NFL season.

Blackmon had arguably his best statistical game of the season in Sunday’s loss to Detroit, making 5 receptions for 32 yards and his lone touchdown of the season. The touchdown came in garbage time and when a measly yardage total like that represents a good game, you know it’s been a struggle. Blackmon has just three games with over 40 yards receiving this year and while part of that can be attributed to Blaine Gabbert’s continued struggles to prove he’s an NFL quarterback, Blackmon has issues of his own. To prove that point further, 2011 fourth-round pick Cecil Shorts has six games of over 40 receiving yards this season.

The former Oklahoma State star is lackadaisical at times and has been ineffective after the catch, which was one of the knocks on him entering the league and the major difference between him and the aforementioned Owens. Blackmon does have extremely strong hands along with great body control and remains a high-upside player, especially in the red zone, but it’s obvious his development may take some time. Many receivers peak in their third season and while you would expect a top-five pick to make a more immediate impact, Blackmon has already lost half a season and the arrow isn’t pointing up.

Michael Floyd (WR-Ari)

As Early Doucet continues to struggle with dropped passes, the 13th overall pick from Notre Dame has seen more action despite still being listed as the fourth receiver on the depth chart. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has confirmed that Floyd’s reps will continue to increase after the team’s bye week, likely at the expense of the veteran Doucet.

After making just eight catches in the first seven games of his NFL career, Floyd has 10 receptions for 116 yards on 18 targets in the past two weeks as the Cardinals have been consistently behind and working out of four-receiver sets. The light finally seems to be turning on for the rookie and the coaching staff seems to be noticing as well, using their Week 10 bye to adjust their offensive plans to include more of Floyd.

Floyd was a big-time playmaker at Notre Dame and at 6-2, 220 pounds with 4.4 speed, he has the size and speed NFL teams covet at the receiver position. The former Fighting Irish star had some issues with drinking in college that led to three arrests but has stayed clean during his first professional season and now finds himself looking at increased playing time. The talent is there for Floyd to be a very good NFL receiver if he keeps out of trouble and stays focused on every down.

Rod Streater (WR-Oak)

Undrafted out of Temple, Streater started the season well with 4 receptions for 27 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets in Week 1. He had just 7 catches on 11 targets over the next four games and seemed to be losing playing time to Derek Hagan and even Juron Criner. Even after a few more disappointing performances after that, Oakland stuck with Streater as their third receiver and their confidence paid off on Sunday.

With Carson Palmer throwing 61 times as the Raiders played from behind thanks to Doug Martin’s record-setting day, Streater saw another 10 targets in Week 9 and turned those into 4 receptions for 54 yards. After Palmer missed his first three throws to Streater, his fourth resulted in a 25-yard touchdown that cut the Tampa Bay lead to 10-7 heading into halftime. Streater caught his other three passes on an early fourth-quarter drive, but was also the intended target on two late interceptions that sealed Oakland’s fate.

At 6-3, 200 pounds, Streater has good size and the ability to go up and get the ball. He’s quicker than he is fast (4.55 speed) and was as inconsistent in college as he has been in his short NFL career. It’s difficult to see Streater becoming much more than a depth receiver at the NFL level unless he improves his consistency, especially with Jacoby Ford returning to the Oakland passing game next season.

Mike Daniels (DT-GB)

With second-round pick Jerel Worthy missing Week 9 with a concussion, the Packers looked to Daniels among others to fill the rotational void that Worthy left. Daniels came up with a big sack late in the second half that killed the momentum of an Arizona drive and helped Green Bay maintain a 21-7 lead heading into the half.

Daniels has just 5 tackles and 2 sacks on the season but looked explosive on Sunday in his limited playing time and may be playing his way into the Packers’ defensive line rotation even when Worthy returns. The fourth-round pick from Iowa comes with less pedigree but he should continue to see snaps until his competition returns from injury and after if he continues his strong play.

Daniels is a 6-0, 294-pounder who runs a sub-5.00 40-yard dash and displayed the same quickness and explosiveness on Sunday that he showed throughout his college career. An excellent first step is his biggest asset but he tends to struggles getting off blocks if he doesn’t get around blockers right away. If he continues to improve like he did throughout his Hawkeyes career, he can have a solid NFL career as a rotational 3-4 defensive end or a three-technique tackle.

Leonard Johnson (CB-TB)

When Aqib Talib was suspended by the NFL two weeks ago, Johnson took over nickel back duties for Tampa Bay and almost made the Rookie Report last week after recording his first career interception. This week, the undrafted Iowa State cornerback did make the report after his second career interception and another solid game overall, lessening the blow to the Tampa Bay secondary after Talib was traded to the New England Patriots.

With the Raiders down 21-10 and driving inside the Tampa Bay 40-yard line, Johnson stepped in front of Denarius Moore to intercept Carson Palmer and get the ball back for the Bucs. Two plays later, fellow rookie Doug Martin scored his second of four touchdowns on the day by breaking off a 67-yard run that opened up an 18-point lead that Tampa Bay would never relinquish. Johnson also had a career-high 6 tackles (5 solo) and broke up two passes.

We had Johnson rated as a fourth or fifth-round prospect heading into April’s draft but no NFL team took a chance on him. His struggles staying close in downfield coverage and lack of great speed (4.53) likely caps his upside as a nickel back, a role he has stepped into seamlessly in the past two games for Tampa Bay. Johnson is an aggressive run defender and breaks well on the ball in zone coverage, showing he has the ability to succeed at the NFL level as long as he isn’t exposed as a starter asked to play consistently in man-to-man coverage.

Jonte Green (CB-Det)

Another rookie nickel back that made an impact for his team in Week 9, Green was drafted in the sixth round out of New Mexico State and has seen an increase in playing time over the past three weeks with starter Jacob Lacey missing the previous two games with a concussion and finally returning on Sunday. In Week 9 against Jacksonville, he had a career-high 5 tackles along with his first career interception and a pass defended in a big 31-14 win for the Lions.

Four of Green’s tackles came on completions of seven yards or less and his interception came late in the third quarter when it looked like the Jaguars were going to put up a fight towards the end of the game. Driving at the Detroit 26-yard line, Blaine Gabbert could not connect with Rashad Jennings as Green picked him off and returned it 18 yards to the 36-yard line, leading to a Detroit field goal early in the fourth quarter that sealed the Lions’ win.

Green was effective in Week 7 before disappearing two weeks ago, so it was nice to see him bounce back last week with a good game. At 5-11, 184 pounds with 4.45 pounds, Green has the size and speed to be an NFL starter but fell to the sixth round due to the same inconsistent play we’ve seen from him in the last month. He is a solid tackling corner and displays good instincts breaking on the ball at times, but is prone to blowing assignments and getting beat downfield. If Green can take to NFL coaching and find a way to stay consistent at the pro level, he has starting potential down the line.

Chris Tripodi has been writing for Draft Insider since 2009, compiling Rookie Reports and Draft Reviews and conducting draft interviews with NFL prospects. He has been a sportswriter for multiple newspapers and previously worked at ESPN and with the Rochester Red Wings, the Minnesota Twins’ Triple-A affiliate. Follow him on Twitter at @christripodi and check out his blog at http://christripodisports.blogspot.com.

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