5.) Jacquizz Rodgers – The dimunitve, yet stout, Rodgers is a playmaker the Falcons took in the fifth round out of Oregon St. He will come into a situation where he will receive quite a bit of playing time, working as a third-down back and the first guy to spell Michael Turner now that Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood appear to be headed elsewhere. And with Turner, 29, looking like he is slowing down quicker than predicted, Rodgers role could become even bigger as the season plays out. I suspect he comes in and his role does infact expand throughout the year for this team as he picks up tough yards, catches passes out of the backfield and potentially does some work on special teams as well.
Prediction: 120 carries, 591 yards, 6 TDs; 22 receptions, 251 yards, 4 TDs
4.) Ryan Williams – I’m not completely sold on Beanie Wells being “the guy” in Arizona. That couldn’t have become more obvious after the Cards decided to take Ryan Williams early in the 2nd round, thus opening up the door for him to lockdown a spot in the top 2 of the RB pecking order. Although Williams was a stud as a freshman at Virginia Tech (1,655 yds rushing), he struggled mightily last year, thanks in large part to injury. Because of this, he wasn’t taken in the first round of the draft which allowed Arizona to swoop in and “steal” him in the 2nd. Now, he will be counted on to shoulder part of the load in The Desert and should do very well teaming up with Wells.
Prediction: 147 carries, 733 yds, 6 TDs; 26 receptions, 281 yds, 3 TDs
3.) A.J. Green – Yes, he may not have Carson Palmer throwing him the ball this year, but this kid has “it”, not to mention he appears to be the only reliable receiver the Bengals have. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com is quoted as saying, “He catches everything…No one’s covered him, and when he is, he jumps up and takes it away.” Yikes. This kid is bound to blossom as a rookie and should do wonders for the anemic Cincinnati offense even though the likes of Bruce Gradkowski or Andy Dalton will be quarterbacking.
Prediction: 61 receptions, 917 yards, 6 TDs
2.) Julio Jones – The Falcons traded up to grab the uber-talented Jones, a product of Alabama, and he should thrive with Matt Ryan throwing him the ball. With top-10 wideout Roddy White on the other side, Jones should easily see his fair share of balls thrown his way allowing for some rather large numbers to be posted throughout the season. Already being described as “the most impressive player” at Falcon camp, Jones has the potential to be number 1 on the list; he comes in at number 2 based on the fact that he isn’t the top-dog at receiver in Atlanta. However, that shouldn’t bother Julio in the least.
Prediction: 68 receptions, 1,008 yards, 7 TDs
1.) Daniel Thomas – As soon as the Dolphins selected Thomas in the 2nd round of the draft, I knew he had an opportunity to step right in and contribute immediately. And with the immenent and just about probable departures of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, Thomas now looks like a sure bet for 200+ carries. Yes they added Reggie Bush, but as we’ve all come to find out, Bush is not an every-down kind of back and works better in the third-down role. I expect Thomas to get his ‘run on’ all season long and be a force for opposing defenses to try and defend.
Prediction: 247 carries, 1,180 yards, 9 TDs