Another year of draft evaluations are upon us with the NFL playoffs down to the final eight. The two topics merge into one here as the same players that were becoming household names last year at this time are now finishing their first NFL season, with several playing integral parts in their team’s postseason success. I’ll look at two rookies, one from each team in each playoff game and see how they might play a crucial part in this weekend’s games.
New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers
Randall Cobb didn’t take long before he made his name known in an NFL game. To kickoff the 2011 season the Packers hosted the New Orleans Saints (ironically, that could also be the last NFC matchup played this season). After an offseason filled with questions about the new kickoff rules and player’s rust, Cobb ran a kickoff back 108 yards for the touchdown. Cobb quickly became a hot topic as he also added a receiving touchdown in that game.The NFL world expected his season to just blossom from there but he didn’t have another receiving touchdown all season.
Cobb’s season highs are four receptions in a game and 75 receiving yards. This has more to do with the multiple weapons that Green Bay has on offense than Cobb just not producing. While he hasn’t been the most involved during the year, the game changes for the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some special packages for Cobb in this game. He’s fresh and Green Bay could take advantage of his quickness on screens and underneath routes to combat the Giants’ pass rush.
Prince Amukamara was a highly rated cornerback by most “experts”. I differed in opinion on Prince. I felt that if a team drafted him as a Safety it would play more to his strengths. As a Safety they could take advantage of his speed and the great angles he takes to the ball. He can be exploited as a cornerback in the NFL though. He doesn’t have fluid hips and veteran receivers will get him turned around. He was injured right out of the gate for the Giants but when he finally came back he did get an interception. It was his only pick on the season and he was beat by a few yards on the play but Vince Young badly under threw the route.
Due to the Aaron Ross injury, Amukamara will have to step up and play an increased role. All the news about the Packers-Giants game this week has been about how the Giants could pull the upset because of how great their defensive line play has been. I believe that the talk should be about Prince and if the greatness of the D-line’s pass rush can outweigh the weakness in the secondary. If I’m right and Prince struggles to get his hips around on double moves, Aaron Rodgers will have a field day.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 34-30
Other Rookie Notes: I felt that Jerrel Jernigan would have been a better player than Randall Cobb. He hasn’t lived up to my expectations yet but he should get some returns in this game after getting in the Tom Coughlin dog house earlier this season. Da’rel Scott was another prospect that I liked coming out and if he can get healthy and Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware stay nicked up, then we may see him with a few carries behind Brandon Jacobs.
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Jayson Braddock is an NFL Scout / NFL Writer & On-Air Personality. Jayson is also a football insider for the Dylan Gwinn show on 790 AM in Houston, TX - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports790.com. You can also catch Jayson on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew every Thursday at 10:30am ET. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @JaysonBraddock