Last year’s rookie class was one for the ages. There were rookie players last year doing things that veterans cant even do, and even some rookies who accomplished feats that had never been accomplished by any other guy in history. This year, all of the rookies are under a microscope, trying to avoid the sophomore slump, and for the most part, they have come through in spades. Five players specifically have started the year incredibly strong, and all four have seen a huge bump in their value around the hobby. Prior to this year, it was Cam Newton followed by everyone. Now, its not as clear with some really impactful performances from other top guys.
I love AJ Green as a player, and he has proven to be about as dynamic as a receiver can be in this league. Not only that, but he has made a joke team in Cincy out to be a playoff team with some help from another guy I will talk about here in a few lines. His speed and hands have shown to be exceptional, which is exactly why no one said boo when the Bengals took him so high in the first round last year. He was one of the only rookie wide receivers in the last few years to reach the 1000 yard mark, and he is well on his way this year as well. His value has been high since draft day, and his rookie cards have been creeping steadily upwards. If there is a guy to buy right now, he is a great one.
I am biased as a Vikings fan, but there has not been a guy with a better improvement since last year than Ponder has these past few games. Granted, his lack of downfield throws has limited his yardage, but he is one defensive stop away from being 3-0 right now. His game yesterday against San Fran was nothing short of incredible, considering they are the best defense in the league, and he has no one to throw to past 15 yards. He has shown a pre-eminent intelligence as a student of the game, and so far, his talent is progressing to match it. Now that Jerome Simpson is coming off the suspension, he should have more targets. It wont be like New York or Atlanta, but it should get better. Having Adrian Peterson behind you doesnt hurt either, and Kyle Rudolph has proven to be the security blanket they drafted him as. Things are looking MUCH better for Minnesota than before.
If it werent for Cam Newton’s epic year last year, Dalton would have been ROY. This year, after a dismal performance against Baltimore in week one, Dalton has comeback strong with 2 wins against good defenses. Cincy has averaged a ton of points this year, mostly due to his ability to effectively manage the offense. Im not sure why this is the case, but his value isnt close to that of Cam Newton, Jake Locker, or others despite his success over the last few years, but it has jumped after the last two weeks. I liked Dalton coming out of TCU, as I thought he looked like he could develop as a great QB over a few years. His quick start has demonstrated that he didnt quite need that much time. Collectors are coming on late, though, as I still think he is a great buy.
When the Falcons traded up to draft Jones last year, I was shocked. I couldnt believe that someone would let it happen, let alone the fact that they were doing it for a wide receiver. Regardless, he has become a player widely comparable to AJ Green, if not more so considering that Tony Gonazalez and Roddy White are also taking some of the burden, where Green is the only option in Cincy. The Falcons are looking to be pretty much the best offensive team in the league this year, and Jones is a big reason for that. Collectors have been widely supportive of the cards Julio does have on the market, but a plethora of redemptions have limited a true representation of where he is sitting. If the cards get signed, watch out.
When head coach Mike Munchak announced that the Locker era was going to begin in Tennessee before the season started, many questioned his ability to be successful. Locker started out quite roughly in week one, but has rebounded with force during some great games since then. The victory yesterday against Detroit was HUGE, and Lockers’ popularity is growing by the minute as a result. Locker was widely regarded as a top prospect entering his last year of college, which added a lot of hype to his cards when they were first released. I dont think many expected the Titans to go all in with a QB during last year’s draft, but they must be glad they did right now.
The jury is still out on some of the other rookies, and Cam Newton has already shown he can be explosive. I guess its only a matter of time before we start to find out who is really in it for the long run.