Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008 Mid-Season All-Rookie Team: Offense & Special Teams

Some fun content this week, as all NFL teams have played at least eight games and I'm handing out some mid-season awards. Tomorrow, I'll have my mid-season awards as well as a recap of the Dolphins-Broncos game.

For now, here is my 2008 Mid-Season All-Rookie Team on offense and special teams:

Quarterback: Matt Ryan, (Falcons)
Honorable mention: Joe Flacco (Ravens)

One of two quarterbacks that has started all season, Ryan has played very well on a team that many (myself included) expected to be pretty bad this season. He's shown great poise and leadership on the field and a fantastic arm while avoiding many costly mistakes.

Running back: Chris Johnson (Titans)
Honorable mention: Steve Slaton (Texans)

Not just a workout warrior with his blazing 40 time at the combine, Johnson has shown great skills both as a rusher and a receiver while helping the Titans to an undefeated half-season. He currently leads NFL rookies with 715 rushing yards on an impressive 4.9 average. In addition to his five rushing touchdowns, he's also received for 164 yards and a score though the air.

Fullback: Mike Tolbert (Chargers)
Honorable mention: Peyton Hillis (Broncos)

One of only a handful of rookie fullbacks that has started some games on offense, he still has a ways to go before he's opening up whole for LT the way Lorenzo Neal did. That said, he's done a solid job and should continue to get better.

Wide receivers: Eddie Royal (Broncos), DeSean Jackson (Eagles)
Honorable mentions: Donnie Avery (Rams), Jordy Nelson (Packers)

Royal's an obvious choice, leading all rookies in both receptions and receiving touchdowns while ranking only second to Jackson in yards. Despite some bone-headed plays and rookie mistakes, Jackson has shown good ability to stretch the field.

Tight end: John Carlson (Seahawks)
Honorable mention: Dustin Keller (Jets)

On a team that has been missing its starting quarterback for much of the season, Carlson has been a reliable target. He leads all rookie tight ends in receptions (22), receiving yards (244) and receiving touchdowns (2). His production would be even better if he had Matt Hasselbeck throwing to him instead of Seneca Wallace.

Offensive tackles: Ryan Clady (Broncos), Jake Long (Dolphins)
Honorable mentions: Sam Baker (Falcons), Duane Brown (Texans)

Clady has been superb this season, having yet to allow a sack in his NFL career. His performance is quite possibly worth a Pro Bowl nod and certainly worth Rookie of the Year consideration, though his position will make that a difficult award to grab. Meanwhile, first overall pick Jake Long hasn't been quite as dominant, but has shown a ton of ability and appears to be on his way to being a Pro Bowl left tackle as well.

Offensive guards: Jamey Richard (Colts), Jeremy Zuttah (Buccaneers)
Honorable mentions: Carl Nicks (Saints), Mike Pollak (Colts)

A seventh-rounder out of Buffalo, Richard has appeared in all eight games (five starts) for a Colts line that has allowed the fourth-fewest sacks in the NFL. Meanwhile, Zuttah has done a good job filling in for Davin Joseph, who has struggled with a foot injury this season.

Center: N/A
Honorable mention: N/A

There's certainly no Samson Satele this year. No NFL team has a starting center, or even a backup that has seen significant playing time. I guess I could have jokingly listed Andrew Crummey (Bengals) and Drew Miller (Jaguars) who have zero games played between them.

Kicker: Dan Carpenter (Dolphins)
Honorable mention: Connor Barth (Chiefs)

The only rookie kicker to have played all season, Carpenter earned the job over Jay Feely in camp and has done will so far this season, converting all 19 extra-point attempts while connecting on 12 of 14 (86%) field goals.

Punter: Brett Kern (Broncos)
Honorable mention: N/A

Likely aided by the thin Denver air, Kern has had a superb season with a 47.8-yard average and 40.0 net average. He's also had eight punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

Kick returner: Felix Jones (Cowboys)
Honorable mention: Brian Witherspoon (Jaguars)

Currently nursing a hamstring injury, Dallas' first-round pick leads all rookies with more than 10 returns with a 27.1-yard average. He has one kick returned for a score - a 98-yarder against the Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Punt returner: DeSean Jackson (Eagles)
Honorable mention: Davone Bess (Dolphins)

The only reappearing rookie on this all-rookie team, Jackson has also flashed his skills as a punt returner with an 11.0-yard average and one touchdown.