1.) Russell Wilson Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
“He is too short to be an NFL Quarterback”, “He can’t see over his Offensive Line” these are just some of the things Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson heard from NFL scouts heading into the 2012 NFL Draft. Wilson has all the makings of an NFL staring quarterback; ability to throw on the run, a strong arm, and pin point accuracy. Unfortunately, too much is put into height, and it dropped Wilson from a 1st Round talent to a 3rd Round pick. The Seahawks were baffled Wilson fell to them in the 3rd Round (75th Overall), and even after signing free agent Matt Flynn, Seahawks General Manager John Schneider took Wilson not as a project, but as a serious contender for the starting quarterback job. In Seattle’s first Pre Season game against the Tennessee Titans, Flynn and Wilson both impressed. In the 1st half Flynn was efficient, completing 11 of 13 passes for 71 yards, but threw an interception. Wilson was impressive in the 2nd half both through the air and on the ground. Wilson’s final passing line was 12/16 for 124 Yards with a touchdown and an interception. Wilson also carried the ball 3 times for 59 yards, including a 32 yard quarterback keeper to seal the game. Flynn is the favorite to win the starting job, but I expect the Seahawks to give him a short leash. If Flynn gets hurt or isn’t productive, the Seahawks wouldn’t hesitate to hand the reins to the rookie Wilson.
2.) Jake Locker Quarterback, Tennessee Titans
After the Titans selected Jake Locker with the 8th Overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft, they are finally giving him the chance to be the starter from the get go. Locker has always possessed rare athleticism and impressive accuracy on short and medium passes, but still struggles with the deep ball. Last season Locker saw some playing time in the final games, throwing 4 touchdown passes with no interceptions. Heading into 2012, Titans coach Mike Munchak has made it clear that Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker both have an equal shot earning the starters job. In the Titans first Pre Season game vs. the Seahawks, Hasselbeck threw 2 interceptions, while Locker completed 7 of 13 passes for 80 yards. Heading into this week, the roles have been reversed with Locker starting against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Hasselbeck being 2nd in line for snaps. Don’t read to much into it however, as Munchak indicated it is just a game by game process, and is no indication of who will be the Titans starting Quarterback in the regular season . It may only be one Pre Season game, but it is a step in the right direction for Locker’s chances in 2012. If Locker does get the nod to start the regular season, his combination of accuracy and athleticism will make him a true dual threat Quarterback and make the Titans contenders in the AFC South.
3.) Titus Young Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions
On a team that has Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and Matthew Stafford, it is hard to imagine that the Detroit Lions passing attack could be more lethal to opposing defense’s. When I take a look at WR Titus Young, I see a star ready to explode onto the scene. While Young may not be the tallest man on the field (5’11) his combination of speed, route running ability and ability to create yards after the catch all point towards a big season. If you ask any Lions coach who has impressed them the most thus far, the first name you might hear is Titus Young. Young has been unstoppable in camps, embarrassing teammates with his ability to get open, he has established himself as the team’s No.2 Wide Receiver from the get go. As the No.2 Young should get plenty of attention from Stafford this season with, Calvin Johnson drawing double coverage, it will open up plenty of big play opportunities for him as well. Young won’t be just a Wide Receiver however, he is also listed as the Lions return man on punts. Titus Young could be the ultimate weapon for the Lions, and he’ll admit that too. As long as Young can keep out of trouble, I think he has a chance to finish with 1,000 receiving yards and 8 TD’s. If Young delivers on the hype, this Lions team won’t have to worry about a running game, they can just throw it up and down the field every week.
4.) Bobby Wagner MLB, Seattle Seahawks
One of my favorite rookie’s from the Seahawks draft has to be Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner. While Wagner isn’t the tallest or fastest player on the field, his combination of sound tackling, a non stop motor, and instincts make him a stopper on defense. While Wagner now sits behind Barrett Ruud sits ahead of him on the Depth Chart, Wagner is quickly taking a grasp of the starters job. While Wagner continues to learn the defense and watch film, Ruud is stuck in the training room as he tries to recover from shoulder and knee injuries, as he slowly loses playing time to Wagner. In the team’s first pre season game with Ruud sitting out, Wagner racked up 4 tackles, including 1 for a loss. Wagner continues to impress coaches in Training Camp, and now is in charge of calling plays on defense. It is a big assignment for the rookie LB, but may be the deciding factor in who will man the middle of the Seahawks defense. If Wagner starts from Day 1, he could rack up over 100 tackles as a rookie.
5.) Davon House CB, Green Bay Packers
When the Green Bay Packers released Charlie Peprah before Training Camp, it signaled changes being made to the Packers Secondary. Charles Woodson was then moved to Strong Safety, leaving the No.2 CB spot up for grabs. One name that has stood out thus far is 2nd year Corner Davon House. House a 4th Round pick out of New Mexico State, has stepped up in Training Camp as the leading man for the job. The 6’0 CB has impressed coaches with his coverage skills and knowledge of the defense. In the team’s first pre season game against the San Diego Chargers, House impressed again while fellow corners Casey Hayward and Jarrett Bush were beat far to often. Unfortunately for House, he dislocated his left shoulder and i expected to miss the beginning of the regular season. When House does come back, he should step in as Green Bay’s No.2 Corner and get plenty of attention from opposing QB’s providing house a plethora of opportunities for interceptions and tackles.