2012 PFF All-Rookie Team

Steve Palazzolo works his way through one of the best draft classes of recent memory to find a squad of rookies that could push a team of seasoned vets.

| 4 years ago

2012 PFF All-Rookie Team

When it’s all said and done, the rookie class of 2012 may be viewed as one of the best ever, particularly due to the strength at the quarterback position. The trio of Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, and Andrew Luck all had immediate success that may have unfairly altered future expectations at the position, and all three appear poised for excellence in the coming years.

In addition to the quarterbacks, this rookie class features a deep group of running backs, a plethora of linebackers, playmakers in the secondary and, of course, a group of strong-legged kickers.

Let’s take a look at the top rookies at each position for 2012.


QB: Russell Wilson, SEA (+39.4)

This battle came down to the very end, but Wilson’s late surge gave him both our Rookie of the Year award as well as the top spot as quarterback on the All-Rookie Team. While Griffin and Luck were receiving the majority of the hype through much of the season, Wilson quietly went about his business before going on a tear that saw him grade at +32.9 over his last nine regular season games.

While the future appears bright for the top three quarterbacks in the class, Wilson boasts the best rookie season of the bunch.

Honorable Mention: RG3 (WAS), Andrew Luck (IND)

RB: Alfred Morris, WAS (+17.1)

While Doug Martin edged Morris out in Elusive Rating (58.2 to 51.0), it was Morris’ overall body of work that gave him the top spot. His +17.1 grade ranked third among running backs, while his 1,613 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns were second in the league.

Honorable Mention: Doug Martin (TB)

FB: Rhett Ellison, MIN (+12.5)

Ellison was a key cog in RB Adrian Peterson’s near record breaking season as he ranked second among fullbacks with a +12.1 blocking grade.

WR: Josh Gordon, CLE (+3.4) and T.Y. Hilton, IND (-2.8)

It was a slow start for rookie wide receivers around the league, but the trio of Gordon, Chris Givens and Hilton became large parts of their respective offenses as the season progressed, and they all averaged over 16.0 yards/catch. Gordon locked up one spot with his 805 yards on 50 catches and Hilton narrowly edged Givens for the second spot as his seven touchdowns led all rookies and his 861 receiving yards ranked second.

Honorable Mention: Chris Givens (SL)

TE: Dwayne Allen, IND (+19.4)

The second of the Colts’ draft picks at the tight end position, not only did Allen outplay his teammate Coby Fleener, but he also showed better than most tight ends around the league. He brought in the second-highest grade at the position, including superb run blocking at +10.1 on the year.

Tackles: Matt Kalil, MIN (LT) (+15.9) and Mitchell Schwartz, CLV (RT) (+16.1)

It’s uncanny how similar the numbers look for Kalil and Schwartz. Both made the team on the strength of top-notch pass blocking, as Kalil graded at +15.6 and Schwartz at +15.1, while both have room to improve as run blockers (Kalil -2.4, Schwartz 2.9). They finished among the Top 22 tackles in the league, making for an easy selection as the bookend tackles on the All-Rookie Team.

Guards: Amini Silatolu, CAR (LG) (-16.7) and Kevin Zeitler, CIN (RG) (+13.0)

The right guard position was easily filled by Zeitler, who ranked as our 12th-best guard on his way to surrendering only 15 pressures all season. Finding a left guard was a much more arduous process, and Silatolu makes the team by default over Jeff Allen (KC) and Mike Brewster (JAX). Silatolu ranked 77th of the 81 qualifying guards, but ranking a couple of notches above Allen and Brewster gets him the spot on the team.

Center: Trevor Robinson, CIN (-1.8)

On our Mid-Season Rookie Team we were unable to include a center as no first-year players had taken any significant snaps at the time. Luckily Trevor Robinson entered the mix as part of the revolving door at center for the Bengals. He held his own during their stretch run on one of the league’s best offensive lines.

Turn the page for the defense

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Michael Weis

    Does PFF keep track of the number of rushing attempts for RBs that came through the option/zone-read (ex. typical WAS offensive play), and the number of rushing attempts that come through regular pro-style rushing attack (ex. typical BAL offensive play)? 

    Does PFF also keep track of which gap the RB goes through and the resulting yards on option/zone-read plays?

    I’d like to see how different A. Morris’ (and other option/zone-read RBs) numbers are between his pro-style Run touches, and his option/zone-read touches. Perhaps one of your great analysts can write a piece highlighting the effectiveness of A. Morris’ type RBs in the system he is in.

    • Pkhemmerich

      I have to agree. Morris seems to have benefited much more from the offense (see; RG3) he was in. Also, he didn’t catch the ball out of the backfield like Doug Martin.

  • Michael Weis

    Can anyone explain what the different skill sets coaches look for to differentiate between LGs and RGs? I know that LTs are usually excellent pass blockers, and I assume RTs are good RBs, but what about the guards? Does it depend on their agility, power, system?

    • http://www.facebook.com/blake.whitney.35 Blake Whitney

       System would direct what type of guards teams would grab. Agility, leverage, lower body or mauler types. So many attributes for guards that can change their play style.

  • Tiago1801

    where is stephen gilmore?

    • TheQuestion

      Busy getting a pass interference or holding call.

    • Kevin Byrd

        Him getting a big play after giving up 2 doesn’t make up for it. His overall grade is -4.3.

      • Tiago1801

         he is +3.7 of pass cover his negative grade was penalty (-6.2) and run defence (-1.8)

        • http://twitter.com/Cornerss william

           PI penalties are like turnovers imo. They almost always involve huge chunk yardage and almost always puts them in scoring distance. Its why you are supposed to only do it when you are burned.

  • guess

    So Wilson gets the top spot because of his late surge(last 9 games),but Morris wins because of his overall body of work???

    • http://twitter.com/Cornerss william

       i think if you were a team with no qb or hb , you would take Wilson based on what they did last year. QB’s win games

      • Richard L.

         “QB’s win games”

        “That’s what I said when they gave Ray Lewis the Super Bowl MVP award.” – Trent Dilfer

  • Watermia

    What about Rhett Ellison at FB?

    • Steve Palazzolo

      This was an oversight on my part and it’s been fixed accordingly. I’m a huge fan of Ellison and his versatility.

  • Grant Cutler

    Where is Vontaze Burfict?

    • Guest

      Why would you mention Burfict in the same breath as the guys above? Your name suggest you are not a family member so I’m going with Bengals fan who doesn’t watch much other football.

      • Izach12

        while i agree the guys mentioned did better than buffict, burfict made quite a name for himself this year, overall he was the bengals best LB. he basically too rey malungas spot and ignited that defense much better than most ppl realize, his passion on the field cost them sometime but it also helped alot more. 

    • George McDowell

       Probably smoking weed. As is anyone who thinks he belongs on this list.

    • http://www.facebook.com/antonio.moltisanti.1 Antonio Moltisanti

      This was a really, really good class of linebackers IMHO. I guess he just didn’t make the cut, but he is clearly a good player.

  • JJ

    Funny how half these guys had no draft hype.

  • therockpilekid

    you guys d#$%^# cordy glenn PERIOD

  • Tom

    Just a random question – do you have Courtney Upshaw’s efficiency rating? Simply want to get a gauge on what you all thought of his rookie campaign.

  • http://twitter.com/PhilKenSebben Mike

    KJ Wright?

  • Rkleine708

    How did Washington win 7 straight games and make the playoffs with no first or second team all-pros. The answer is RG3. He had much less help than Russell Wilson (as well as a higher QB rating and 500 more yards rushing). He is clearly the rookie of the year. If he not been hurt I believe Washington would still be playing.

    • guest

      i believe Alfred Morris had the second most rushing yards in the NFL, so no help isn’t really right. and Pierre Garcon is pretty good.

    • http://twitter.com/Cornerss william

       both rg3 and wilson had the most help of the rookie qb’s on offense.Both had pretty good te’s and wr’s and hb’s. So stop whining

    • Richard L.

       Didn’t Kirk Cousins come in for 1 start and post big numbers with RG3 injured?

      How did he managed to do that if RG3 is the only good player on the team?

  • Idkjoe

    Not a honorable mention for Justin Blackmon?  He had more catches and receiving yards than all three.  And on a terrible offense with no rushing attack and questions quarterbacks.

    • http://twitter.com/Cornerss william

       top 10 picks have no one to blame but themselves if they dont live up to expectations. The guy was labeled a bust most of the year till Henne was named starter

      • unhipcat

        only an idiot would label someone a bust after half a season

      • http://www.facebook.com/antonio.moltisanti.1 Antonio Moltisanti

        That is bull. Larry friggin Fitzgerald couldn’t put together a 1000-yard season this year and you expect Blackmon to do it all himself? As a rookie? With BLAINE GABBERT?

  • VfJ

    Osemele should be the other guard…

  • SayItLikeYouMeanIt

    Excellent choices

  • Krfaulkner79

    Bob Wagner over Luke Keuchly is garbage.  Im not knocking Wagner he had an incredible rookie season but Keuchly led the enitre NFL in TACKLES and made the Panthers Run Defense/ Defense better.

    • Richard L.

      1. Not all tackles are created equal.
      If a linebacker accumulates 100 tackles close to the line of scrimmage, that’s better than a linebacker who gets 125 tackles 10 yards down the field. That’s why PFF created measures like “Run-Stop percentage.”

      2. Even if you don’t buy into PFF’s advanced stats like Run-Stop percentage, based on the raw stats, Kuechely only had 16 more unassisted tackles than Wagner – 103 vs 87. That’s an average difference of 1 tackle per game.

      Do you REALLY think that’s conclusive evidence he’s better than Wagner – 1 tackle per game??? Seriously?

      3. The article already mentioned Kuechely improving the Panthers’ run defense. The point is not that Kuechly was useless compared to Wagner – they’re both really good. The point is that Wagner was better for all 16 games, while Kuechly only began thriving after moving to MLB.

  • Jaqen H’Gar

    I’m very surprised that Kelechi Osemele did not earn the LG spot. I think he deserved it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.kamel.18 Joe Kamel

    Why do people say “If RG3 hadn’t been injured”? Its amazing he wasnt hurt sooner, his lack of awareness when running the ball is a major liability. If he doesnt learn how to avoid violent collisions he’s never going to stay healthy.

  • Kayvon Thomas

    Where is Derek Wolfe? The man was a relentless beast that was the third component (behind Von and Doom) of Denver’s scary pass-rushing attack.