Saturday, July 26, 2014

7 comments Bleacher Report Has Your List of the 10 Most Disappointing Rookies Right Here

I have to give it to Bleacher Report. They have really gained some credibility by hiring pretty good writers for the site. There is better content on the site these days. Still, you can put lipstick on a pig and it doesn't make it a woman, so there is still not-so-good content on the site, as well as each slideshow having the same annoying habit of the last slide being the first page of the next slideshow. A lot of this not-so-good content is designed for pageviews and to churn out columns. Today, we have the list of the 10 most disappointing rookies for the 2014 NFL season. What rookie is disappointing and what rookie is not disappointing is all a matter of perspective. Johnny Manziel isn't on the list, while Blake Bortles is on the list. Manziel could start this year and the Jaguars have already announced Bortles will not be starting. So the expectation Bortles won't play is there, yet he will disappoint in the author's opinion. I'm not sure how that's possible. So bookmark it and keep it handy, here is the official list of rookies who will disappoint during the 2014 NFL season. Just be sure to understand that a player can also disappoint if there are outsized expectations for him in the first place.

As the number of first-year players making instant impacts in the league seemingly rises each year, so too do the expectations that rookies—especially those drafted in the first or second round—face from day one.

Expectations are being raised, which naturally means more rookies will disappoint. Therein lies the rub in saying a rookie disappoints in his first season in the NFL. It's based on an individual's expectations for that rookie. Plus, whether a rookie does well in his first year or not isn't an indication he won't be a good player in the long-term.

Because of the lofty, often unrealistic projections that early-round draft choices are expected to match, a player can emerge as a solid contributor for his team in his first year and still be labeled as a disappointment.

So now the author is taking these lofty, often realistic projections and turning them into an entire column/slideshow while labeling these players as potential disappointments. See the issue here? The author is smart enough to know there are unrealistic projections placed on these players and then they are unfairly labeled as a disappointment. The author's response to this knowledge is to participate in the exercise himself, though he knows it's a fool's errand and is generally unfair. Anything to churn a few columns out. 

Each of these players have star potential and were selected in the first two rounds of the draft as a result. But they face expectations that will surpass what their current skill sets and surroundings will make them capable of accomplishing in 2014.


This is infuriating. The author admits to having outsized expectations that he knows these players can't achieve, yet he still claims they could potentially be disappointments. If the expectations are too high, then that is the problem. How is this hard to see? 

Let's start the slideshow!

Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars have already stated that Bortles will be sitting his first season in the NFL. Other than actively helping opposing teams to beat the Jaguars by telling them the plays the Jaguars offense will be running, I'm not sure how he can be considered a disappointment for the upcoming season when he isn't given a chance to play.

The last four quarterbacks selected with top-three NFL draft picks—Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Carolina’s Cam Newton and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford—each started all 16 games of their rookie seasons and accounted for an average of 3,784 passing yards, 20.5 touchdown passes, 459.75 rushing yards, 6.75 rushing touchdown and 8.25 wins.

Bortles will face expectations for a top-three quarterback that have been significantly raised by the standouts selected at the top of recent drafts. Realistically, Bortles projects to be an average-at-best quarterback if he starts as a rookie, which in itself remains uncertain.

Uncertain meaning "the plan is to definitely have him sit" his rookie season, as reported here, here, here, here, here, and here. But hey, maybe it's just one big practical joke being played on the rest of the world by the Jaguars.

Should the team make the change to Bortles at any point this season, expect the rookie signal-caller to have growing pains. Throughout his three-year career at UCF, Bortles had accuracy issues along with sloppy footwork and mechanics, all of which still need to progress significantly for him to have sustained success as an NFL passer.

So if Bortles does play to due impatience/injury and he comes out and struggles, and I expected him to struggle as this author is telling me to do, then how in the ever-living fuck has he been a disappointment? He hypothetically struggled as I expected him to do. He met my expectations for him.

Bortles has the skill set to be Jacksonville’s future at quarterback, but don’t expect him to be the immediate savior of the team’s offense in 2014.

Mostly because he's not projected to be the Jaguars quarterback in 2014. But sure, if Bortles does play and doesn't play well then I will consider him a disappointment since I expected him to struggle.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo Bills

Sammy Watkins should immediately become a starting wideout for the Buffalo Bills offense and could contend for a 1,000-plus yard season and Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in his rookie season

Which would obviously be disappointing because a 1000 yard rookie season would put Watkins in some fairly elite company. Not as elite as the company used to be, but still pretty good company. Still, it's very disappointing that Watkins can't lead off his NFL career with a 2000 yard season and 85 touchdowns.

While Watkins was the No. 4 overall selection, he holds the weight of a No. 1 overall pick because of the price—first- and fourth-round picks in the 2015 draft—that the Bills paid the Cleveland Browns to move up to select him.

And of course if Watkins doesn't play well during his rookie season then his entire career is over and at no point during the rest of his career could he play well enough to justify the picks spent on him by the Bills. Makes sense.

Furthermore, Watkins plays a position that is not only one of the most high-profile spots on the field, but also where his production will be directly affected by the success or failure of Buffalo’s still-shaky second-year starting quarterback, EJ Manuel.

Watkins should be judged a disappointment because his starting quarterback is shaky.

he’ll have to compete for touches on a weapon-laden offense that also includes Mike Williams, Robert Woods, C.J. Spiller and Scott Chandler among others.

Great, so let's temper expectations for him then. Good, it's done. How will he disappoint again?

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise if Watkins is outperformed by some of the rookie class’ other top wideouts, but anything less than excellence will be a disappointment given the steep investment Buffalo made to trade up and draft him.

If only there were NFL seasons after this year where Watkins could produce and perform to the expectations the steep investment made in him require. Too bad Watkins won't ever play again after the 2014 year though.
Dee Ford, OLB, Kansas City Chiefs

The case could legitimately be made that Dee Ford was the best player available when the Kansas City Chiefs drafted him with the No. 23 overall pick in this year’s draft,

So a case could legitimately not be made or would a case not legitimately be made? I just like the use of the word "legitimately" since it seems completely unnecessary in this sentence.

Drafted to play outside linebacker in Kansas City’s 3-4 defense after lining up as a 4-3 defensive end at Auburn, Ford faces a transition that often takes NFL players at least one year with which to become comfortable.

Okay, so knowing that.........................does this mean he will be a disappointment because he will take at least one year to adjust to the 3-4 defense? If so, that's silly since the expectation is that it takes a 4-3 college end a year in the NFL to adjust to playing OLB in a 3-4.

Even if the position switch comes naturally to Ford, he’ll still have a tough time getting on the field as a rookie. With an exceptional pair of starting outside linebackers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, both of whom were ranked by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) among the top six 3-4 OLBs in the NFL this past season,

Again, this is an issue of expectations and not an issue of Ford's performance. If it's expected that it will take a year to adjust to a 3-4 defense and he is stuck behind two really good outside linebackers then maybe he shouldn't be expected to have a huge impact this upcoming season.

That won’t give Ford, being that he is a top-25 pick who was a pass-rushing standout in the SEC, a free pass from high expectations.

And really, why should it? A "Rookies Who Will Disappoint" column HAS to be written, so there needs to be enough names on this slideshow to justify it being written. Therefore, Dee Ford will be a victim of high expectations placed on him by the author so the author can correctly claim he told us that Dee Ford would disappoint, when Ford really met any realistic expectation for his performance.

At the very least, Ford will need to notch some sacks and show he can bring pressure as a situational pass-rusher to avoid being labeled a disappointment after his rookie season.

At the very most, Ford should lead the NFL in sacks and be voted into the very next Pro Football Hall of Fame class. After all, he was drafted #23 overall.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers

Saddled with the pressure of headlining a Carolina Panthers receiving corps that is essentially brand new,

Whatever "headlining" means, Benjamin isn't headlining the Panthers receiving corps unless he has proven he can do so. If Benjamin has proven he can "headline" the receiving group then he won't be a disappointment as a rookie. Also, the group is new to the Panthers but Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery, and Tiquan Underwood are pretty veteran NFL players. So "essentially" the receiving group is shockingly mediocre but not new to the NFL.

Size isn’t everything, of course, and while it can help him win on throws where he can’t separate from defensive backs, he’s still going to have to be able to get open on a more consistent basis to emerge as a No. 1 receiver in Carolina.

And as learned previously in this slideshow, if Benjamin doesn't become a No. 1 receiver in his rookie year then he will NEVER be a No. 1 wide receiver. Therefore, he is a disappointment in his rookie season because he didn't step on the field as a No. 1 receiver.

Benjamin’s potential to create mismatches is promising, especially in the red zone, but the two-year collegiate player isn’t likely to reach the top of his game until at least his second season in the league.

So again, if this is the expectation for Benjamin then how will he not meet expectations? The answer is Benjamin will not meet expectations if there is an expectation that he will reach the top of his game in his rookie season.

And also, how many NFL players reach the top of their game in their rookie season? That's a ridiculous thing to expect from a rookie no matter the position.

That’s typically fine and expected for a wideout drafted late in the first round, but for a Panthers offense that touts Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant as its top veteran receivers, the team likely holds expectations for Benjamin that he might not be prepared to meet in year one.

Yes, the team "likely" holds expectations for Benjamin he is not prepared to meet. It's good to know this author for Bleacher Report knows the expectations for Kelvin Benjamin within the Panthers locker room and among management. It just so happens those expectations are really, really super-high, which conveniently allows the author to add another slide to his "Rookies Who Could Disappoint" slideshow.

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Dallas Cowboys

As the No. 34 overall pick, Demarcus Lawrence technically went two spots outside of the draft’s first round, but the Dallas Cowboys made it clear they valued him like a top-32 pick when they traded a second-and third-round pick from this year's draft to move to the top of Round 2 to select the Boise State product.

Yes, "technically" Lawrence went two spots outside of the first round because he was drafted two spots outside of the first round, but he was legitimately a first round pick that wasn't a first round pick. Regardless of where the Cowboys valued him, he was a second round pick. Teams value players outside of the round they are drafted in all of the time. This doesn't mean this player should be expected to perform at a higher level because of this.

Placing first-round expectations on Lawrence leaves him in a position to be a rookie disappointment.

Well, then don't place first round expectations on Lawrence because he was a second round pick. Of course Lawrence will be a disappointment if unfair expectations are placed on him.

"If you place the expectations that he will be the best quarterback in NFL history then Johnny Manziel looks like he will be a major disappointment!"

As Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News suggested in May, Lawrence “probably won’t start as he gets his strength up,” and instead will start out his career as only a designated pass-rusher.

"And since we will place expectations that Lawrence will be an All-Pro next season then he will be a major disappointment for a guy who technically drafted in the second round, but will have first round expectations for the sake of a slideshow."

The rookie defensive end will have to emerge quickly as a sack artist or make rapid progress as a point-of-attack run defender to get on the field as an every-down player. Only then will the Cowboys’ trade up for him be justified and meet the expectations that come with that level of investment.

I'm enjoying the author's completely misguided idea that a rookie has to play well in his rookie year to justify his team trading up to draft him. It's as if no matter what the rookie does after his first year in the NFL it's not enough to every justify a team trading up to draft that player. That rookie year determines whether the trade up was worth it or not. It's a very short-sighted way of evaluating a trade and a player.

Cody Latimer, WR, Denver Broncos

Despite having the No. 1-ranked offense in the NFL this past season, the Denver Broncos traded up to the No. 56 overall pick in the second round of this year’s draft to add another playmaker: Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer.

Basically this author thinks any player a team had to trade up in order to draft is going to be a disappointment.

With Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and offseason free-agent addition Emmanuel Sanders sitting as the top three on Denver’s receiving depth chart, Latimer will have to beat out Andre Caldwell just to be the Broncos’ fourth wideout in the rotation.

So for the 900th time, then Latimer should not have great expectations placed upon him if he is expected to not see a lot of the field. If he performs as a fourth wide receiver would perform then he's met expectations, right?

As Latimer develops, he should come closer to taking full advantage of his physical capabilities and could emerge as a major weapon for the Broncos offense in time. As a rookie, however, Latimer might not have enough ability to force his way onto the field and make an impact on such a talent-laden offense.

So it's not that Latimer will disappoint, it's that he may not have an opportunity to show what kind of player he can be due to the talent in front of him?

You know what is really disappointing? That the author places expectations he knows are unrealistic on these players in the name of writing a slideshow.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, New Orleans Saints

Consider that Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a 6’3”, 218-pound player who converted to cornerback from wide receiver midway through his collegiate career, and it’s clear the New Orleans Saints will be hoping that their second-round pick (No. 58 overall) emerges as the NFL’s next Richard Sherman.

But don't worry, it gets better. Not only do the Saints expect Jean-Baptiste to be the next Richard Sherman, the author calls Jean-Baptiste a disappointment because he's not one of the NFL's best cornerbacks during his rookie year.

That said, any immediate expectations for Jean-Baptiste to play at the level of Sherman, who established himself as one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks while helping lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl title this past season, are likely to go unfulfilled, at least during his rookie season in 2014.


The author of this slideshow is calling Stanley Jean-Baptiste a potential disappointment as a rookie because he's not going to play at the same level as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks. This isn't reality. It can't be. No one can be this ridiculous.

It’s true that Jean-Baptiste’s size and ball skills give him star potential, but it’s apparent from his game film that he’s still learning the nuances of playing cornerback.

Oh, so Jean-Baptiste is going to have work hard to become the NFL's best cornerback, as opposed to just walking on the field and being the best corner in the NFL during his rookie year? What a disappointment.

Regardless of whether or not Jean-Baptiste earns a starting spot, he should see solid playing time as a rookie because the Saints will want to use his size where it can give them an advantage. How much playing time he receives should be contingent upon his development, however, as he remains a raw talent who is likely to get exposed at times throughout his first year in the league.

You mean Jean-Baptiste will be exposed at times as a rookie cornerback like 90% of other rookie cornerbacks are exposed at times? And this is a disappointment, why again? Because the author was told write a slideshow about disappointing rookies and this is the result? Or because he doesn't understand the concept that a player can only be a disappointment based on the expectations being heaped on that rookie, followed by the author heaping unrealistic expectations on nearly every rookie in this slideshow.

This slideshow was legitimately not good.


Snarf said...

While Watkins was the No. 4 overall selection, he holds the weight of a No. 1 overall pick because of the price—first- and fourth-round picks in the 2015 draft—that the Bills paid the Cleveland Browns to move up to select him.

WTF is this? The Bills paid the going rate to move up to the 4th overall pick, where they selected Watkins. How the F does that equate to him being a #1 overall?

Rich said...

Bortles will face expectations for a top-three quarterback that have been significantly raised by the standouts selected at the top of recent drafts.

Of the four QBs Bortles is compared to, only two were drafted under similar circumstances - the rookie pay scale.

Newton and Bradford were drafted when you knew that you were committing 60M into the guy. The rookie payscale allows teams to take a guy a little higher than they might have otherwise.

Also, Newton, Bradford and Luck were number 1 overall picks, so that comes with different expectations (rightly or wrongly).

Also, I get the allure of the "top 3" pick moniker, but why not also compare Bortles to Manuel (16th), Tannehill (8th) or the shitshow the 2011 draft was: Locker (8th), Gabbert (10th) and Ponder (12th)?

could contend for a 1,000-plus yard season

If Watkins came in, playing with a second year QB who struggled last year and put up 1,000 yards, that'd be an absolutely incredible season.

You know why? There were only 24 WRs in the entire NFL who had that many receiving yards.

If your expectation is that a rookie WR will come in and put up a thousand yards... you're a fucking moron who needs to temper expectations.

Snarf said...


Moreso than the 24 WRs with 1,000 yards last season, I think the 17 rookies EVER with a 1,000 yard season is even more important here.

Rich said...


To cover up the fact I never thought of looking that stat up, all I'm going to say is:

How many of those rookie WRs had the team that drafted them swap firsts and trade a fourth round pick for them? Hmmmm? I mean that does basically make Watkins a #1 overall pick.

In all seriousness, even Calvin Johnson failed to reach 1,000 yards his rookie season (granted he didn't start the full season); likewise, Andre Johnson was under 1,000 his first year too.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, I don't know. I wish I could tell you that. It's not really equal to that. They wanted Watkins, so they took him. It worked for the Falcons when they got Julio Jones.

Rich, actually Newton was in the 1st draft with the new rookie scale so they didn't get $60 mil guaranteed. Your point still stands though. If anything, I think the Jags have lowered expectations for Bortles by essentially saying he wasn't going to be starting this year. So out of the gate he isn't compared to guys like Wilson/Newton/Luck/RG3. That's the point of having him sit this year.

I find it amazing that the author thinks Watkins should put up 1000 yards next year. It's simply a case of him raising expectations so that anything less than that amount will help to prove his point.

Anonymous said...

This is a rather obvious observation but how can somebody even decide that 10 players from the 2014 rookie class will be disappointments despite the fact that no actual games have been played? Talk about lofty/unrealistic expectations.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, see that's what I think the author is doing. He's setting higher expectations than their should be in order to justify his claim these players will be a disappointment.