Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
History will chalk up Green Bay’s disappointing 2013 to Aaron Rodgers’ broken collarbone, but another culprit was the team’s very bendable and breakable defense. (Note: The Packers did make the playoffs, but that alone isn’t good enough in Titletown.) One notable stat from last season is that Green Bay’s safeties didn’t collect any interceptions, a problem the team addressed by taking Alabama ball-hawk Clinton-Dix with its first-round draft pick. A willing and able hitter as well as a cover guy, Clinton-Dix is as much a threat to separate an opposing team from the ball as he is to separate a receiver from their cleats.
9 of 10
The blueprint has been drawn up and the pieces have been assembled for what Jacksonville hopes is an eventual return to the days when they were a legit contender. Or just not the worst team in the league. With their first three picks in this year’s draft, the Jags got their quarterback in Bortles (No. 3 overall pick), followed by USC playmaker Marqise Lee, and Penn State record-breaker Allen Robinson at wide receiver.
Bortles won’t just be handed the starting QB job thanks to the presence of veteran Chad Henne. But he is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the Jaguars’ rebuilding effort, he’s already the face of the franchise, and he might even be popular enough with Jacksonville fans to make them forget about giving that Tebow guy a chance.
10 of 10
The long months of workouts, scouting combines, pre-draft hype, draft-week drama, contract negotiations, OTAs, training camp, cuts, and preseason games are all in the past.
Now it’s time for this year’s NFL rookies to show what they can do in football games that actually count.
But don’t think that what happens this season is a sure sign of what’s in store for the future. In this rookie class are future starting quarterbacks who will spend Year 1 of their NFL career standing on the sideline; future Pro Bowlers who will struggle adjusting to the pro game; future Super Bowl champions who won’t even sniff the playoffs. And on the flip side, it’s just as likely we will see a rookie or two who peaks in Year 1 — looking like a star this season before falling off and eventually out of the league.
Presented here are 10 rookies to keep an eye on in 2014. Some of them may be X-factors on teams with realistic Super Bowl aspirations; others may be in store for a lot of losing. One thing they all have in common is that their time for waiting is over.
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