As we start to look ahead to the 2014 NFL season, let’s take a look at some of the future stars in the league, and there’s no better way to do that than with our official All-Rookie Team from the 2013 season.
QB: Geno Smith, New York Jets – Just about every one else is giving this honor to Mike Glennon, but Smith had little support at the skill positions and found a way to lead the Jets to eight wins, and that’s more impressive than what Glennon did.
RB: Eddie Lacy, Green Bay – Lacy finished 8th in the NFL in rushing during his rookie season, finding the end zone 11 times and making him a worthy recipient of offensive rookie of the year.
RB: Zac Stacy, St. Louis – Had Stacy been a starter all season he would have put up numbers equal to Lacy, as he was quietly the most impressive rookie running back.
WR: Keenan Allen, San Diego – Allen made a strong case for offensive rookie of the year after leading the Chargers with over 1,000 yards receiving this season.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Houston – Outside of Allen, it was slim pickings at wide receiver, but Hopkins gets this spot because of his 800 yards receiving, despite only finding the end zone twice.
TE: Jordan Reed, Washington – Reed missed the latter part of the season, but he was a dangerous receiving target for the Redskins, even with inadequate quarterback play.
OT: D.J. Fluker, San Diego – The Chargers had a strong offensive line this season and the addition of Fluker was a big reason why.
OT: Justin Pugh, New York Giants – There were a lot of tackles drafted early last year, but by the end of the season Pugh had improved more than all of them, and he has a chance to be as good as every other tackle drafted in 2013.
OG: Larry Warford, Detroit – Warford is going to be a really good linemen in the NFL for a long time, and he’s going to contend for a trip to the Pro Bowl on a regular basis.
OG: Kyle Long, Chicago – Long had an incredibly impressive rookie campaign, giving the Bears a great player for a lot of years to come.
C: Travis Frederick, Dallas – Just about everybody criticized the Cowboys taking Frederick in the 1st round, but he had a great season and helped hold the Dallas offensive line together.
DE: Ziggy Ansah, Detroit – Ansah lacked consistency this year, but eight sacks as a rookie shows plenty of promise.
DE: Datone Jones, Green Bay – There weren’t too many standout pass rushers among rookies this year, so Jones gets this more by default than anything else, although he did have 3.5 sacks.
DT: Star Lotulelei, Carolina – The stats don’t back it up, but Lotulelei was an impact player for the Panthers, helping to give them one of the strongest defensive fronts in the NFL.
DT: Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets – Richardson won the defensive rookie of the NFL award after being an instant difference maker for the Jets.
OLB: Alec Ogletree, St. Louis – Ogletree improved a lot during his rookie season and made a few impressive plays that signal that a future star.
OLB: Jamie Collins, New England – Collins isn’t yet the pass rusher the Patriots want him to be, but he found a way to contribute as a rookie and really started to make an impact late in the season.
MLB: Kiko Alonso, Buffalo – Alonso was snubbed of defensive rookie of the year honors. He was 3rd in the NFL in tackles and made plays all over the field for the Bills, which may have put him on the Luke Kuechly career track as a future star in the league.
CB: Desmond Trufant, Atlanta – Obviously, there were some ups and downs for Trufant in his rookie season, but he handled himself well and should become a solid cornerback in the NFL.
CB: Johnthan Banks, Tampa Bay – Banks stepped right into a starting job in a talented secondary, and he saw a lot of action, as teams tried to avoid Darrell Revis, and Banks did a fine job handling all the attention.
FS: Eric Reid, San Francisco – Reid looked like a veteran for much of the season; he was solid and steady, playing well against both the run and pass, and fitting in nicely with one of the best defenses in the NFL.
SS: Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona – I had my doubts about the Honey Badger in the NFL, but until his injury late in the season he was putting together an impressive rookie campaign, making plays in a variety of places and in a variety of ways, just as his moniker would suggest.