Archive for the ‘Ronnie Lott’ Category

Do you start in your first game as a rookie?

May 5, 2008

With the exception of QB, ultimatenyg believes that the question a franchise should ask itself when picking that first rounder is- WILL THIS PLAYER START GAME ONE AS A ROOKIE? Some players are shot out like a cannon. They enter into the league and instead of fighting for a roster spot or playing time, they start game 1. And then they never leave. If it takes time to get settled into the league and a rookie takes a few games or a full season to break into the starting rotation, that is not a stain. No shame. But your #1 pick is different. This is one of the ~32 best players in the country by your own evaluation. Considering there are almost 1700 players on the roster for NFL teams, if you cannot find a player that can break in as a starter, then something is probably wrong. (DE is a second position next to QB that is extremely difficult for 22 year olds to physically manage, thereby making drafting one in the first round a true test of whether the choice is merited.)

This is not an ironclad rule. Matthias Kiwanuka is a good example of a very good pick at #32 in the first round. At DE, he was not expected to supplant two players (Umenyiora and Strahan) who went to the Pro Bowl the preceding year.

Here is a list of starters in Game 1 of their rookie season for the New York Giants in the past ten years.
2006 Cofield
2004 Wilson
2003 Diehl
2002 Shockey
(If you can comment on a player I may have missed, appreciated. My database does not give granularity, so a mistake is possible here.)

The point is that guys like Ronnie Lott and Lawrence Taylor, two notables who started their first game as a Pro and never left, cannot be held back. They move at a different speed and the pro game almost adjusts to them and not the other way around. Shockey was the same way, knocking over bodies in 2002’s preseason like bowling pins en route to an easy Pro Bowl selection. (…which is why I still maintain to this day that he is a resource which is woefully mismanaged.)

Will Kenny Phillips start for the Giants in Game 1? This will go a long way to determining whether he is a good pick for the Giants. The Giants have the following coming to camp at this position:
1) Butler- a starter noted for his efficient tackling but slow speed
2) Johnson- a #7 rounder who started a handful of games as a rookie after others got hurt, plays with aggressiveness (a polite way of saying that he is playing hard but does not necessarily make all the right decisions yet)
3) Knight- a smart veteran who plays strong up at the line yet (because of age) can get beat by a TE in coverage

The logic is that this is not a particularly deep set of incumbents. If Phillips is any good he should be starting against Washington on Thursday night in the Meadowlands.

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