2014 PFF All Rookie Team
It’s not easy playing football in the National Football League. It’s even harder when you’re making the transition from the college game. Many rookies struggle as they face faster, stronger, more experienced players who’ve already made the transition and have a leg up on perfecting their craft.
So give credit to these 28 men who have overcome the odds to make an immediate impression on us with their play. Those 28 men fill out the 2014 PFF All Rookie team, so let’s see who made the cut…
Quarterback: Teddy Bridgewater (MIN)
Others generated more talk but no rookie quarterback got about their business as efficiently and impressively as Bridgewater. Sure there were some teething pains but his strong finish to the year was an eye-catcher. He finished with the best grade of any QB over the past five weeks of the season.
Running Back: Jeremy Hill (CIN)
A strong season from Hill who broke the 1,000-yard mark and showed plenty of ability for making defenders miss with his 28 forced missed tackles. He will need to cut down on the four fumbles and make the most of the blocking in front of him.
Full Back: Ryan Hewitt (CIN)
The undrafted free agent would show off his versatility and blocking chops in a nice 525-snap cameo that will give the Bengals plenty of options for how they attack the draft and free agency next year.
Tight End: Crockett Gilmore (BAL)
This wasn’t a class that had a tight end jump out and wow you. Instead, the solid Gilmore gets the nod over his peers, none of whom managed more than 491 snaps.
Wide Receivers: Odell Beckham Jr. (NYG), Mike Evans (TB) and Jarvis Landry (MIA)
As lackluster as the tight end options were, the wide receiver options presented the opposite problem, with so many having eye catching seasons. Of course none was more impressive than Beckham Jr. who would make our All-Pro first team. Don’t sleep on how effective Jarvis Landry has been from the slot and the second half of the year from the outstanding Evans.
Tackles: Taylor Lewan (TEN) and Justin Britt (SEA)
Is it getting harder for tackles to adjust to the NFL? Outside of Lewan none covered themselves in glory. The selection of Britt was a case of him being the least bad right tackle as opposed to being the best. Pass protection in the NFL is tough.
Guards: Joel Bitonio (CLE) and Zack Martin (DAL)
As much as the tackles struggled, though, the guards had themselves a fine year. Brandon Linder was on the outside looking in but had himself a fine debut season, but Bitonio (first team PFF All-Pro) and Martin (second team) were that little bit better with their work in the run game.
Center: Corey Linsley (GB)
He may not have walked into training camp expecting to start but he’ll walk out of this season as not only the teams starting center for the future, but one of the better young linemen in the league.
Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: Aaron Donald (SL) and Timmy Jernigan (BAL)
Another rookie who would make our All-Pro team, Donald was a revelation. Working his way from rotational player to key starter, he ended the year our top-ranked defensive tackle. The more versatile Jernigan didn’t come close to that year but used his 312 snaps to make plenty of plays against both the run and pass.
Defensive Interior – Nose: Justin Ellis (OAK)
Raider Nation has a lot to smile about with their 2014 draft class. Ellis doesn’t look like the type who will ever be featured on every down, but his +4.9 run defense grade shows his value.
Edge Rushers: Khalil Mack (OAK) and Anthony Barr (MIN)
Sack numbers aren’t everything and Mack is a great example of that. He was phenomenal against the run, showing an ability to set the edge and shed blocks that should make offenses think twice about running in his direction. Barr isn’t a conventional edge rusher but his ability to do a number of things well helped us find a spot for him.
Linebackers: C.J. Mosley (BAL) and Chris Borland (SF)
Mosley put forth a season that in most years would garner serious Defensive Player of the Year consideration. He was an every-down force that immediately upgraded the Ravens’ defense. Borland played far less but was a tackling machine, proving doubters wrong in quick fashion.
Cornerbacks: Bene Benwikere (CAR), E.J. Gaines (SL) and K’Waun Williams (CLE)
While first-rounders struggled with injury (Jason Verrett), form (Kyle Fuller) and convincing his coaches that he deserved to play (Justin Gilbert), “lesser” talents made a name for themselves with their strong play. Not bad from one guy picked into the fifth, another in the sixth and another undrafted.
Safeties: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (GB) and Calvin Pryor (NYJ)
A special mention to Tre Boston who missed out on account of playing time, but two first-rounders both get the nod here. Pryor was the most impressive with a nose for the ball-carrier in the run game, but there’s no denying that the Packers’ secondary looks better with Clinton-Dix in it.
Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro (ARZ)
Strong kickoffs and only four missed field goals all year. A solid pickup for the Cards.
Punter: Pat O’Donnell (CHI)
Nice rookie year from O’Donnell who would finish a creditable 14th overall in our punter rankings. Of course he was the only rookie punter which helped his cause for this team.
Returner: De’Anthony Thomas (KC)
The explosive Thomas looked a threat to take it back every time he touched it, as dangerous on punts as he was on kickoffs.
Special Teamer: Trey Burton (PHI)
Daniel Sorenson just missed out but ultimately the work of Burton on kickoffs and punts was a big part of why the Eagles’ special teams unit was so impressive.
See the other awards we’ve handed out this week:
2014 PFF All-Pro Team
2014 PFF All-Pro Special Teams
2014 PFF Stephenson Award (Best Player)
2014 PFF Offensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Player of the Year
2014 PFF Matthews Award (Best Offensive Lineman)
2014 PFF O-Line Rankings
2014 PFF Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Offensive Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF Defensive Rookie of the Year
2014 PFF All-Rookie Team
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