No Superstar Rookies in Round One

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It was a month ago, that I did a fantasy column about the greatest fantasy rookies of all-time, headed by Eric Dickerson's 1983 season in which he ran the ball 390 times for 1,808 yards, caught 51 passes for 404 yards and scored 20 times worth 367 fantasy points.

I can say, unequivocally, there will be no such performance this year. At least not from the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Of the 32 players selected on Thursday night, 16 play on the defensive side of the ball and eight of the remaining 16 first round selections were offensive linemen.

That leaves eight skill position players drafted on Day 1.

Four of those were quarterbacks - Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder.

Could any of these quarterbacks be a superstar in their rookie season?

I think not.

Newton, the No.1 overall selection by the Carolina Panthers, will likely be the only Opening Day starter of the foursome, but given his team's current makeup posting huge numbers would seem all but impossible.

For years Panthers have featured the running game behind DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. While there are questions as to whether Williams will return in 2011, Stewart will definitely be back and should be the team's No.1 weapon.

Carolina's receiving corps is headed by Steve Smith, who is talented, but often injured and little else. Smith led the team in receptions last season with 46 while running back Mike Goodson was second with 40 catches.

Locker, drafted by Tennessee, will have to beat out Kerry Collins before he starts for the Titans. That's not a given in Week 1, though it could happen before mid-season. Still, the Titans know where their bread is buttered and it's with running back Chris Johnson.

It's a similar theme in Jacksonville and Minnesota where the offenses are led by great running backs, Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson. So whether Gabbert can beat out David Garrard and Ponder can surpass Tarvaris Jackson or Joe Webb, none will be the focal point of their offense and therefore none will be a fantasy superstar in their first season.

If none of the quarterbacks are ready to shine in Week 1, then we are down to just four other first-round possibilities - wideouts A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jonathan Baldwin and the only running back selected on Day 1, Alabama's Mark Ingram.

Green, drafted No.4 overall by Cincinnati, should start in the first week given that neither of last season's Week 1 starters, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, will be wearing Bengals' orange next season. It should be Green and Jordan Shipley as the starting wide receivers with talented Jermaine Gresham at the tight end spot. That's a good group of receivers. The problem is we don't know who will be throwing to them. Carson Palmer has made it clear he wants out of Cincinnati and owner Mike Brown has been equally stubborn in saying that Palmer will be a Bengal next season. Without Palmer, there is no one on the Cincinnati roster who can consistently get the ball to the receiving corps.

Jones heads to a talented Atlanta Falcons team, but he'll definitely be the No.2 receiver behind All-Pro Roddy White. He could be solid in that role, but Jones is not going to put up superstar numbers on a team that has Michael Turner at running back, White at receiver and Tony Gonzalez at tight end.

Baldwin, selected by Kansas City at No.26, is in a similar situation to Jones. The Chiefs have the very talented Dwayne Bowe at receiver and Jamaal Charles in the backfield which makes Baldwin the No.3 option, at best.

Which brings us to the No.28 pick of the first round and only running back selected on Thursday, 2009 Heisman trophy winner Mark Ingram. He heads to a New Orleans Saints team that struggled to keep backs healthy in 2010. With Reggie Bush likely out of the picture, in his rookie season Ingram will likely share time in the backfield with Pierre Thomas. Thomas has only managed to start nine games over the past two seasons due to injury after being a second- half fantasy star in 2008 when he posted 677 yards and nine touchdowns from Week 10 - Week 15.

Of course, if Thomas gets hurt again, then Ingram might end up being the best rookie of all the first round picks, at least from a fantasy perspective.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at

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