It is that time of year again, when recently selected NFL draft picks and card companies descend upon Los Angeles, just a few miles from where I live, for the annual NFL Players Association Rookie Premiere. This is the only time that all 36 of these chosen players will be in the same place at the same time.
One of the main activities associated with this time period is the photographing of players in their NFL uniforms for future trading cards and getting them to autograph advanced designed and printed trading cards.
These 36 players will make up the majority of hits found in boxes of 2012 Football cards. To help you start to get to know these players, I/’ve put together a little guide with a few facts about each of these Premiere Rookies.
Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas, Round 4 (104) Panthers
Adams was one of the premier punt returners in college football last season at Arkansas. He returned four punts for touchdowns, averaged 16.3 yards a return and won the inaugural Johnny Rodgers Award as college football’s best return man. The Panthers are hoping he can emulated Steve Smith, by transitioning into a premier wide receiver.
Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson, Round 3 (64), Colts
Winner of the John Mackey Award, first-team All-ACC selection and a Consensus All-American, Allen has a rare combination of size, speed and athleticism that could make him a stand out TE in the NFL.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State, Round 1 (5), Jaguars
Blackmon was the top WR pick this year and could have gone in the first round last year if he had entered the draft and not returned for his senior year. The best wide receiver in college football in 2011, Blackmon posted stats of 121 receptions for 1,522 yards with 18 touchdowns. With the strong hands, great leaping and the ability to consistently make catches, even in double coverage, Blackmon has Pro Bowl potential.
Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma, Round 2 (54), Lions
Broyles is still rehabbing a torn ACL in his left knee, so why would the Lions pick him up in the second round of the draft. Probably because he was twice a Consensus All-American, considered a potential first-rounder before his injury, and he finished his career holding the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record for career receptions with 349. He also had 45 touchdowns and 4,586 yards, and was an effective punt returner with 108 career returns, averaging a little more than 11 yards per return. Broyles is still hopeful he will be ready in time for week 1 of the season, but considering the Lions signed him to a 4-year contract, it is safe to say they won’t take any chances rushing his return.
Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri, Round 3 (78), Dolphins
Egnew was a basketball and track standout in high school so it is not surprising that his strongest abilities are pulling down high throws and a deceptive quickness that allows him to separate from coverage.
Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford, Round 2 (54), Colts
It is not surprising that Fleener was the first TE to be selected in the draft. The Colts grabbed him with their second pick after selecting Fleener’s teammate at Stanford, QB Andrew Luck. He was Luck’s main target in the red zone scoring 10 touchdowns last year.
Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame, Round 1 (13), Cardinals
Floyd set 7 school records at Notre Dame at the WR position and will join Larry Fitzgerald as the Cardinals to provide a 1-2 punch.
Nick Foles, QB, Arizona, Round 3 (88), Eagles
Last year Foles completed 286 of 426 passes for 3,191 yards and 20 touchdowns. He ranked first in the Pac 12 Conference with an average of 352.58 yards of total offense per game. The Eagles have confirmed that Foles will be their third sting QB as Trent Edwards and Mike Kafka fight for the backup job behind Michael Vick.
Chris Givens, WR, Wake Forest, Round 4 (96), Rams
Givens entered the draft as a Junior, choosing to forgo his senior year at Wake Forrest. Givens is considered a deep threat at any point of the game.
T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State, Round 3 (69), Bills
When you think of Graham you think of speed. Both of his parents were elite track stars. Look for Graham to burn defenders.
Robert Griffin, III, QB, Baylor, Round 1 (2), Redskins
In the year of Luck, there were a few that believed that RG3 might actually go first in the draft. It is not surprising that Washington make moves to get the number 2 draft position from the Rams to pick up this Heisman Trophy and Consensus All-American QB. RG3 has strength accuracy and touch in his throwing arm which should make Hogettes swoon.
Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech, Round 2 (43), Jets
The Jets will look to Hill mainly as a deep threat. He averaged almost 30 yards a catch last year.
Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State, Round 3 (67), Broncos
Don’t let his 5’9” stature fool you, Hillman has the ability to grind down an opponent. He strengths are the ability to find a seam and patience to allow plays to develop.
T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International, Round 3 (92), Colts
Hilton is another offensive element in the Colts rebuild but should also be able to provide explosive kick returns.
LaMichael James, RB, Oregon, Round 2 (61), 49ers
James is the Oregon Ducks career rushing leader and the NCAA rushing leader in 2010 with 1,731 yards. If he returned for his senior season, he probably would have broken the Pac-12 rushing record and the NCAA record held by Ron Dayne. While you shouldn’t expect him to take over for Frank Gore anytime soon, James should see a good amount of time on the field for the 49ers.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina, Round 2 (45), Bears
Jeffery could become the next human highlight reel due to his propensity to go for circus grabs and one-handed catches. He his also good vertically with the ability to pull down high passes.
A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois, Round 1 (30), 49ers
Jenkins was the 49ers first draft pick this year and should fit in well with their West Coast offense. He will add big play potential to the 49ers playbook, something they had difficulty with last year.
Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford, Round 1 (1), Colts
Luck has been tossed into the pressure cooker of expectations, but having been a two-time first team All-American, two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and the MVP of the 2011 Orange Bowl he is used to coming through when the heat is on. This number one overall draft pick is a powerful combination of speed, accuracy and strength. By returning to Stanford for the spring semester to finish his degree in architectural design he also displays incredible character.
Doug Martin, RB, Boise State, Round 1 (31), Buccaneers
Martin was the second RB to be drafted this year behind Trent Richardson. With 1,299 total yards and 16 TD’s last year, Martin has displayed a polished all-around game with outstanding footwork and the ability to break free.
Lamar Miller, RB, Miami (FL), Round 4 (97), Dolphins
Miller rushed for over 1,000 yards last year. The last RB to do the for the Miami Hurricanes was Willis McGahee back in 2002. He was expected to go higher in the draft but coming off a shoulder injury and entering the draft early after only one season in the starting position made have contributed to his later pick.
Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizonia State, Round 2 (57), Broncos
Some were confused with the Broncos decision to use their 2nd round draft pick to secure a QB with Peyton Manning taking over the reigns. John Elway has defended the pick saying Osweiler is the Broncos future. This should give the 6 foot 8 inches tall Osweiler time to hone his skills under the guidance of one of the greatest QB’s of all-time.
Isiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati, Round 2 (50), Rams
Pead was the MVP of the 2012 Senior Bowl and the fourth RB to be drafted this year. He s a elusive runner that relies on his quickness more than strength with the ability to to burst past past defenders with is exceptional straightaway speed.
Bernard Pierce, RB, Temple, Round 3 (84), Ravens
The Ravens traded up to take this early-entry junior in the 3rd round. Pierce has a good feel for working between the tackles with good backfield vision and the ability to cut back across the field to break away from a stacked defense.
DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State, Round 3 (68), Texans
Posey possesses polish with excellent route running and the ability to gain separation early. He excels in the open field with great body adjustment to find the ball.
Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State, Round 2 (33), Rams
With a background in basketball and high jumping, it is not surprising that Quick’s strongest ability is the vertical to bring down high passes. Quick has hug potential to become a future force in the game with some seasoning.
Rueben Randle, WR, Louisiana State, Round 2 (63), Giants
Some feel that Randle could be the next break out rookie like A.J. Green or Julio Jones last year. With 53 catches for 917 yards and eight touchdowns last season, Randle has displayed strong hands and the ability to get plenty of daylight on quick out routes.
Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama, Round 1 (3), Browns
With 2 BCS National Championships, SEC Offensive Player of the Year and Unanimous All-American honors it is not surprising that Richardson was the 3rd pick in the draft, the 1st RB to be selected. At 1,670 rushing yards in his final year, Richardson broke Mark Ingram’s Alabama single season rushing record. With Peyton Hillis gone to the Chiefs, Richardson could become a key player in the Browns offense.
Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers, Round 3 (83), Bengals
Sanu entered the draft coming off his Junior season and is already being touted as the Bengals’ number 2 WR next to last year’s rookie sensation A.J. Green. Sanu set the Big East single-season record last year with 115 receptions, averaging 10.5 yards per catch.
Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M, Round 1 (8), Dolphins
In the year of the Rookie QB, Tannehill was selected eight overall after Andrew Luck and RG3. Quick to pick up the Dolphin’s playbook, Tannehill should be a perfect fit for Miami’s West Coast offence and could see a starting roll for the team very early in the season.
Nick Toon, WR, Round 4 (122), Wisconsin, Saints
Son of former New York Jets great Al Toon, Nick has to potenial to one up his dad. He already has done that on the college level by surpassing his father’s total Wisconsin receiving yards with 2,447 to Al’s 2,103. Toon’s strong hands and strong hesitation moves should provide Drew Brees with another excellent target.
Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State, Round 4 (106), Seahawks
Another early entry to the draft, Turbin rushed for 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns in his final season with Utah State. He should be a valuable addition, providing Marshawn Lynch some relief.
Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State, Round 1 (22), Browns
At 28, Weeden is the oldest player to ever been selected in the first round. As a matter of fact, he has already had a professional career in sports. Collectors might already have his card from as early as 2002 when the New York Yankees selected him in the first round of the Baseball draft. After 4 years in the minors, Weeden quit Baseball and enrolled at Oklahoma State. Weeden led his BCS 3rd ranked team to an 11-1 regular season and threw for 399 yards with 3 touchdowns which rushing for an additional TD to win the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.
David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech, Round 1 (32), Giants
The last pick in the first round, Wilson was the ACC Player of the Year. Wilson should bring some really excitement to the Giants running core with his explosive movements and agility.
Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin, Round 3 (75), Seahawks
Wilson is already causing problems for Pete Carroll, but good ones. With Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn vying for the starting QB position, the selection process was going to be tough enough. But Wilson impressed Carrol enough in the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp for Pete to state that it will be a three was battle for the starter position. Most likely it is Wilson’s accuracy that impressed Carrol. In 2011 Wilson had the highest QB rating at 191.78, over 22 points higher than the next QB, Andrew Luck.
Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas, Round 4 (114), Vikings
Wright is a four-year starter and the most productive career receiver in Arkansas history. Wright knows how to get open and recognizes soft spots in coverage.
Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor, Round 1 (20), Titans
Last year, Wright had 1663 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns, earning All-America and All-Big 12 honors. Wright has the ability to burn defenders with his quick acceleration and speed.