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Making an Impact as a Rookie
By on March 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Jake Long had a veteran impact even as a rookie.

With now just over a month to go until the start of the NFL Draft, an interesting question continues to be raised: how much of an impact should a team expect out of their rookie class? Obviously where a guy is drafted has something to do with it, but as John Congemi explains, the position he plays is also part of the equation:

Guest Blog, by John Congemi

I’m sure that this year’s group of rookies believe that they will make a positive impact on whatever teams draft them. Players are taught at a young age to be confident in their abilities and to get this far in their careers is an amazing achievement. But it’s my belief that some positions are easier to walk in and play at the NFL level than others. The one major hurdle that all rookies have to get over is that an NFL season could be twice as long as anything that they have ever had to endure.

Arguably quarterback is the one position that your skill set must be off the charts to start day one in the league. You have to be not only physically gifted, but mentally tough enough to lead by example and have your new veteran teammates follow your lead. The scrutiny that this position goes through ranks right up there with the head coach or general manager. A great example of this is Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Rookie quarterback plus New York City usually equals disaster, but Sanchez has been able to fight through some rough spots and lead his team to back-to-back AFC Championship Games.

The other offensive position that would be difficult is left tackle. A great example is Jake Long and the way he looked like an eight year veteran in year one! Jake was physically able to handle the position because of his unique blend of size and quickness, as well as his ability to play through injury. The way Long makes the position look easy tells you he’s a superior athlete and well worth a number one overall draft selection.

On defense, the cornerback position doesn’t take a back seat to any other position when it comes to the difficulty of starting right away. You always hear people talk about the speed of the game changes from college to pro and here’s the position you can tell the men from the boys. Two years ago, the Dolphins drafted corners Vontae Davis and Sean Smith, and inserted them in the lineup right away. Both had some good and bad things happen to them, but both Davis and Smith handled the pressure and came back to thrive in year two. Like the quarterback position on offense one mistake can cost you six points and the question is mentally can you handle the next opportunity? That is usually how your evaluated and your career hinges on how you can bounce back and reclaim the confidence that won you the job originally.

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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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