Its week 12 and the end is near for the 2013 NFL season. Two teams in the AFC East are battling for the 6th seed in the playoffs, Tom Brady has managed to do more with less, a veteran corner back has come back from an injury that could of ended his career and the highest paid defensive end in the NFL is starting to pay off. But, more often then not, the rookies are what make the teams contenders each year and the AFC East has a few that have managed to turn some heads. So after 11 weeks of football lets see what rookies have lived up to or surpassed expectations and actually made their teams better this season.
A second round pick (46) by the Buffalo Bills, Kiko Alonso has made his presence known on the field. The other book-end to Mario Williams has 2 sacks, 4 interceptions and a combined 112 tackles for the season. His best game was against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 6 where he recorded 22 tackles and was nominated rookie of the week for the second time in his young career. To top it all off, Alonso is leading the pro-bowl vote along side Mario williams and it seems like this will be just the beginning for this young rookie. Kiko Alonso is arguably the best rookie in the AFC East and the Buffalo Bills fans not only agree but are beginning to turn him into a legend.
Before the boogeyman goes to sleep at night he checks his closet for Superman.
Before Superman goes to sleep at night he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.
Before Chuck Norris goes to sleep at night he checks his closet for Kiko Alonso.
Drafted No. 13 overall, Richardson has been a major factor for the Jets’ defense which is allowing an NFL-low 73.8 rush yards per game. The 6-3, 294-pound defensive tackle is effective in defending the run and providing an interior pass rush. He’s been one of the most consistent rookies in the league, finishing with a positive grade in all but one game this year (per Pro Football Focus), and has been especially surprising in run defense. Richardson has played in all nine games with eight starts, registering 41 tackles, 2.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one pass defensed.
Sheldon Richardson says: “At my position, you either eat or be eaten, simple as that. And I refuse to be eaten.”
The Thundering Herd standout was drafted by the New England Patriots as the 59th pick in the second round and has been quietly making himself a name in the Boston area. He is an explosive downfield threat and has the added benefit of having one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL sling the ball to him. His breakout game came against the Pittsburgh Steelers with 130 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Dobson is 7th among rookie receivers with 35 receptions and 492 receiving yards and with the Patriots facing a poor secondary in Denver this week, his numbers should go up significantly.
Regarding Dobson senior year with out a single dropped pass: “We like to say that dependability is more important than ability” – Belichick
Robey, an undrafted rookie signed by the Buffalo Bills has been one of the NFL’s best slot cornerbacks this season so far. Robey made his presence known against the Kansas City Chiefs in week 9 as he laid out receiver Dexter McCluster immediately after a short catch for a third-down stop short of converting a 3rd-and-3. Robey has surrendered only .70 yards per coverage snaps, leading all NFL rookies and sitting third among cornerbacks who have played at least 50 percent of their teams’ snaps this season. The undersized Robey is one of the Bills’ better undrafted free agent signings in years.
”In high school in Florida that’s what we always do. We always hit a flip into the end zone for our first touchdown. I did that and it’s called a Florida grind.” – Robey (after scoring a pick six in Miami on week 3)
So these are by far the best rookies in the AFC East, one or two could end up being the best rookies in the AFC as a whole by seasons end. Now i know everyone noticed that there where no Dolphin rookies on this list, but lets face it – the best rookie the Dolphins got out of this years draft was Kaleb Sturgis and he is a kicker so enough said. Dion Jordan and Jamar Taylor were both very highly regarded prospects who I thought would come in and make big impacts right away but that hasn’t been the case. The most frustrating part is watching a player (Jordan) that has been somewhat productive when given the chance only gets 26% of defensive snaps this season. Also, you might notice that the two rookie quarterbacks are not even mentioned, one (Geno Smith) for obvious reasons and the other (EJ Manuel) because he hasn’t played enough to truly see what impact he has on the game yet.
By Sergio Peralta