Friday, January 26, 2007

2007 NFL Rookie Report

Now that their seasons are over and we can reflect on what they’ve done, I think we can all agree that last year’s Big Three draft picks– Reggie Bush, Vince Young and Matt Leinart – really stepped up this season and emerged as top-tier rookies in the NFL. All of them came along with huge expectations, but as anyone with any knowledge of the concept of potential vs. reality can tell you, just because you did well playing college football doesn’t mean you’ll make it in the NFL. As former coach Jerry Glanville once said, the NFL stands for “Not for long” if you can’t adapt to the speed and fierce competition of the Greatest Show on Turf. Just ask guys like Ryan Leaf, Brian Bosworth, Lawrence Phillips, and Andre Ware, just to name a few. First there’s Reggie Bush, the player that the Houston Texans didn’t covet. Not only has Bush brought a new excitement to the New Orleans Saints and help take them deep into the playoffs – he’s also done everything he could to embrace a city that really needs him. He’s selflessly donated his time and money to help the state that was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. He gave a local high school a new football field, and has tirelessly made himself available to help the city heal. If his performances against the 49ers and the Cowboys over the past couple weeks are any indication of what Bush is capable of doing in this league -- well, we’re in for a lot of exciting moments. Vince Young, who many NFL teams passed on, has also come into his own, taking the Tennessee Titans on his back and carrying them through a modest winning streak. A one-man show, Young learned the game more quickly than many people thought he could. The rap on him during last year’s draft was that the man wasn’t that smart. Well, he’s bright enough to win games, and at this level, that’s all that really matters. The man can throw, he can run and he has a football instinct you can’t teach. With the Titans’ recent winning binge, he may have also saved Head Coach Jeff Fisher’s job. Leinart couldn’t save Dennis Green’s job as coach of the Cardinals, but he sure is on his way to making a name for himself in Arizona. It’s “I told you so” time for all the teams who passed on him. Leinart is a prototype QB with all the skills required to take Arizona to the Promised Land. He makes quick decisions, has learned to read the complex defensive schemes in the NFL, and is improving every quarter. With a new stadium and young talent throughout their roster, the Cardinals are chirping about next year with renewed hope. Bush, Young and Leinart – they should have been selected 1-2-3. They did it for their teams this year, the ones who were smart enough to pick them, while those clubs who passed on this talented and rapidly improving trio are left crying in their beers.

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