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    Bessire: 2012 Ranking Rookies

    Last Updated: 10/14/2014 10:06 AM ET

    One of the main reasons we expanded (significantly) our NFL Draft coverage for 2012 (in addition to having the good fortune to work with Matt Richner) is that this specific article (and the projections analysis we have already done to supplement it) is my favorite article of the year every year. It shows off just about everything we can do with our technology, from generating inputs for new players, to predicting playing time, health and coaching styles, to playing through entire seasons 50,000 times. It also signifies the beginning of football season. From late March, when we first started publishing analysis on the draft, through January, 2013, football will be a priority. I spent much of the last six weeks preparing the analysis in this NFL Draft section and will continue to work on analysis and build tools for the NFL and college football seasons until they begin. And now we know where these new players are going.

    Here are last two years' articles: Ranking the 2011 RookiesRanking the Draft Classes 2011Ranking the 2010 Rookies and Ranking the Draft Classes 2010. It's hard to argue against Andy Dalton, Aldon Smith, Marcel Dareus and A.J. Green or Ndamukong Suh, Sam Bradford and Eric Berry as some of the most positively impactful rookies in 2011 and 2010 respectively. Furthermore, like Detroit, Tampa Bay and Kansas City in 2010, Cincinnati, Detroit, Denver and the New York Giants definitely benefited from their rookie classes to make big leaps as well. There are some hits and misses after those players and teams, but that's what makes this fun.

    Player rankings below be based on positive impact from output of the upcoming season played 50,000 times. How the players translate to the 2012 season as rookies and how the fit on their new teams are crucial. In a sense, this is essentially a fantasy football draft of every rookie, where contribution of non-skill position players can also be measured (and for actual fantasy football drafts, consider this an early look at the skill position players who will be of value as rookies).

    Obviously, playing time, role and opportunity matter. For instance, our top player in 2011, Andy Dalton, appeared at the time to be the most likely quarterback to start from Week 1. In 2012, three quarterbacks who have a great chance of starting early in the season rank in our top nine overall - Robert Griffin III (#1), Andrew Luck (#3) and Brandon Weeden (#9).

    How Do We This?
    To come up with statistical inputs for rookies, we run a very complex set of algorithms that factor college stats, previous utilization and strength of competition, combine measurables, role and expected utilization of the player's NFL team, previous performance of a similar player in that role for this coaching staff and previous performance of similar rookies at that position in general. This allows us to predict both the player's projected ratio stats such as yards-per-carry, percentage of tackles made while on the field and passing completion percentage, as well as his forecasted usage for the upcoming NFL season. Then we can compare all rookies based on who we think will make the biggest positive impact for his NFL team in his first year. It's a system that I have applied to the previous three drafts and with great success. These projections have highlighted the likely success of Andy Dalton (#1 overall last year), A.J. Green, Von Miller, Aldon Smith, J.J. Watt, DeMarco Murray, Percy Harvin, Jerod Mayo, Louis Delmas, Sean Smith, Ryan Clady, Eric Berry, Sean Weatherspoon and even Super Bowl hero Tracy Porter, while suggesting that Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Delone Carter, Jonathan Baldwin, Glenn Dorsey, Vernon Gholston, Everette Brown and even Matt Ryan were/are overrated.


    We also take this analysis and apply it to teams to rank the impact of the rookie classes of all 32 teams. See our NFL Rookie Class Rankings 2012 for more.

    2012 NFL Rookie Rankings

    Rank Player Pos Team
    1 Robert Griffin III QB Washington
    2 Luke Kuechly ILB Carolina
    3 Andrew Luck QB Indianapolis
    4 Trent Richardson RB Cleveland
    5 Matt Kalil OT Minnesota
    6 Justin Blackmon WR Jacksonville
    7 David DeCastro OG Pittsburgh
    8 Harrison Smith S Minnesota
    9 Brandon Weeden QB Cleveland
    10 Kevin Zeitler OG Cincinnati
    11 Casey Hayward CB Green Bay
    12 Mark Barron S Tampa Bay
    13 Melvin Ingram DE/OLB San Diego
    14 Nick Perry DE/OLB Green Bay
    15 Kendall Reyes DT San Diego
    16 Courtney Upshaw DE/OLB Baltimore
    17 Jonathan Martin OT Miami
    18 Derek Wolfe DT Denver
    19 Vinny Curry DE Philadelphia
    20 Michael Floyd WR Arizona
    21 Morris Claiborne CB Dallas
    22 Riley Reiff OT Detroit
    23 Stephon Gilmore CB Buffalo
    24 Coby Fleener TE Indianapolis
    25 Mychal Kendricks ILB Philadelphia
    26 Bobby Wagner ILB Seattle
    27 Devon Still DT Cincinnati
    28 Fletcher Cox DT Philadelphia
    29 Kendall Wright WR Tennessee
    30 Bruce Irvin OLB Seattle
    31 David Wilson RB NY Giants
    32 Quinton Coples DE NY Jets
    33 Dont'a Hightower ILB New England
    34 Markelle Martin S Tennessee
    35 Jamell Fleming CB Arizona
    36 Andre Branch DE Jacksonville
    37 Lavonte David OLB Tampa Bay
    38 Michael Brockers DT St. Louis
    39 Vick Ballard RB Indianapolis
    40 Jerel Worthy DT Green Bay
    41 Cordy Glenn OG Buffalo
    42 Josh Robinson CB Minnesota
    43 Doug Martin RB Tampa Bay
    44 Mitchell Schwartz OT Cleveland
    45 Dre Kirkpatrick CB Cincinnati
    46 Orson Charles TE Cincinnati
    47 Ryan Tannehill QB Miami
    48 Robert Turbin RB Seattle
    49 Brandon Taylor S San Diego
    50 Akiem Hicks DT New Orleans
    51 Stephen Hill WR NY Jets
    52 Danny Trevathan OLB Denver
    53 Brandon Boykin CB Philadelphia
    54 Chris Givens WR St. Louis
    55 Jaye Howard DT Seattle
    56 Alshon Jeffery WR Chicago
    57 Peter Konz OC Atlanta
    58 Bobby Massie OT Arizona
    59 T.Y. Hilton WR Indianapolis
    60 Cyrus Gray RB Kansas City
    61 Mike Martin DT Tennessee
    62 Zach Brown OLB Tennessee
    63 Frank Alexander DE Carolina
    64 Miles Burris OLB Oakland
    65 Josh Chapman DT Indianapolis
    66 Winston Guy S Seattle
    67 B.J. Cunningham WR Miami
    68 Terrance Ganaway RB NY Jets
    69 Nate Potter OT Arizona
    70 Bryan Anger PT Jacksonville
    71 Jordan White WR NY Jets
    72 Isaiah Pead RB St. Louis
    73 Whitney Mercilus DE/OLB Houston
    74 Tony Bergstrom OG Oakland
    75 Brad Nortman PT Carolina
    76 Zebrie Sanders OT Buffalo
    77 Ronnell Lewis OLB Detroit
    78 LaMichael James RB San Francisco
    79 Kelechi Osemele OG Baltimore
    80 Janoris Jenkins CB St. Louis
    81 Shea McClellin OLB Chicago
    82 Robert Blanton S Minnesota
    83 Trumaine Johnson CB St. Louis
    84 Chandler Jones DE New England
    85 Philip Blake OC Denver
    86 Amini Silatolu OG Carolina
    87 Rhett Ellison RB Minnesota
    88 T.J. Graham WR Buffalo
    89 Jonathan Massaquoi DE Atlanta
    90 Brandon Brooks OG Houston
    91 Chris Rainey RB Pittsburgh
    92 A.J. Jenkins WR San Francisco
    93 Lamar Miller RB Miami
    94 James-Michael Johnson ILB Cleveland
    95 Dontari Poe DT Kansas City
    96 Jeff Allen OG Kansas City
    97 Brandon Mosley OT NY Giants
    98 Joe Adams WR Carolina
    99 Jared Crick DT/DE Houston
    100 Donald Stephenson OT Kansas City
    101 Bradie Ewing RB Atlanta
    102 Ben Jones OC Houston
    103 Jayron Hosley CB NY Giants
    104 Antonio Allen S NY Jets
    105 Nick Toon WR New Orleans
    106 Mike Adams OT Pittsburgh
    107 Tavon Wilson S New England
    108 Ladarius Green TE San Diego
    109 Ronnie Hillman RB Denver
    110 Mohamed Sanu WR Cincinnati
    111 Drake Dunsmore RB Tampa Bay
    112 Shaun Prater CB Cincinnati
    113 Rueben Randle WR NY Giants
    114 Nigel Bradham OLB Buffalo
    115 Tank Carder OLB Buffalo
    116 Jake Bequette DE New England
    117 Dwight Bentley CB Detroit
    118 Terrell Manning OLB Green Bay
    119 Travis Lewis OLB Detroit
    120 Najee Goode ILB Tampa Bay
    121 Robert Griffin OG NY Jets
    122 Tyrone Crawford DE Dallas
    123 George Iloka S Cincinnati
    124 David Molk OC San Diego
    125 Corey White S New Orleans
    126 Marvin McNutt WR Philadelphia
    127 Trevin Wade CB Cleveland
    128 Emmanuel Acho ILB Cleveland
    129 Dwayne Allen TE Indianapolis
    130 Brian Quick WR St. Louis
    131 Trent Robinson S San Francisco
    132 Sean Spence OLB Pittsburgh
    133 Jeris Pendleton DT Jacksonville
    134 Kyle Wilber OLB Dallas
    135 Edwin Baker RB San Diego
    136 DeVier Posey WR Houston
    137 Keenan Robinson OLB Washington
    138 Bryce Brown RB Philadelphia
    139 Andrew Datko OT Green Bay
    140 Dan Herron RB Cincinnati
    141 Danny Coale WR Dallas
    142 Caleb McSurdy ILB Dallas
    143 Tommy Streeter WR Baltimore
    144 Olivier Vernon DE Miami
    145 Charles Mitchell S Atlanta
    146 Mike Harris CB Jacksonville
    147 Alameda Ta'amu DT Pittsburgh
    148 Bernard Pierce RB Baltimore
    149 Brandon Washington OG Philadelphia
    150 Keshawn Martin WR Houston
    151 Michael Egnew TE Miami
    152 Billy Winn DT Cleveland
    153 Devon Wylie WR Kansas City
    154 James Hanna TE Dallas
    155 Coty Sensabaugh CB Tennessee
    156 De'quan Menzie CB Kansas City
    157 Jack Crawford DE Oakland
    158 Travian Robertson DT Atlanta
    159 Brandon Thompson DT Cincinnati
    160 Gino Gradkowski OG Baltimore
    161 Josh LeRibeus OG Washington
    162 Keith Tandy CB Tampa Bay
    163 Asa Jackson CB Baltimore
    164 Alfred Morris RB Washington
    165 Josh Norman CB Carolina
    166 Travis Benjamin WR Cleveland
    167 Adam Gettis OG Washington
    168 Justin Bethel S Arizona
    169 Brad Smelley TE Cleveland
    170 Darius Fleming OLB San Francisco
    171 Josh Kaddu OLB Miami
    172 Rokevious Watkins OG St. Louis
    173 LaVon Brazill WR Indianapolis
    174 Malik Jackson DE Denver
    175 John Hughes DT Cleveland
    176 Christian Thompson S Baltimore
    177 Jarius Wright WR Minnesota
    178 DeAngelo Tyson DT Baltimore
    179 Russell Wilson QB Seattle
    180 Michael Smith RB Tampa Bay
    181 Lamar Holmes OT Atlanta
    182 Brandon Marshall OLB Jacksonville
    183 Demario Davis OLB NY Jets
    184 Marvin Jones WR Cincinnati
    185 Kheeston Randall DT Miami
    186 Mike Daniels DT Green Bay
    187 Joe Looney OG San Francisco
    188 Omar Bolden CB Denver
    189 Jason Slowey OC San Francisco
    190 Ron Brooks CB Buffalo
    191 Terrence Frederick CB Pittsburgh
    192 Audie Cole ILB Minnesota
    193 Daryl Richardson RB St. Louis
    194 Andrew Tiller OG New Orleans
    195 Trevor Guyton DE Minnesota
    196 Senio Kelemete OG Arizona
    197 Korey Toomer OLB Seattle
    198 Brandon Hardin S Chicago
    199 Alfonzo Dennard CB New England
    200 Evan Rodriguez TE Chicago
    201 Jerome Long DT Kansas City
    202 Chris Bilukidi DT Oakland
    203 Matt Mccants OT NY Giants
    204 Josh Bush S NY Jets
    205 Ryan Lindley QB Arizona
    206 Markus Kuhn DT NY Giants
    207 Jerron Mcmillian S Green Bay
    208 Jeremy Ebert WR New England
    209 Dennis Kelly OT Philadelphia
    210 Nick Mondek OT Houston
    211 Adrien Robinson TE NY Giants
    212 Juron Criner WR Oakland
    213 Ryan Miller OG Cleveland
    214 Nick Foles QB Philadelphia
    215 Greg Scruggs DT Seattle
    216 J.R. Sweezy DT Seattle
    217 Scott Solomon DE Tennessee
    218 Matt Johnson S Dallas
    219 Chris Greenwood CB Detroit
    220 Jeremy Lane CB Seattle
    221 Rishard Matthews WR Miami
    222 Tom Compton OT Washington
    223 Isaiah Frey CB Chicago
    224 Greg McCoy CB Chicago
    225 Richard Crawford CB Washington
    226 Tahir Whitehead OLB Detroit
    227 Cam Johnson DE San Francisco
    228 Ryan Broyles WR Detroit
    229 Nathan Stupar OLB Oakland
    230 D.J. Campbell S Carolina
    231 David Paulson TE Pittsburgh
    232 Mark Asper OG Buffalo
    233 Brock Osweiler QB Denver
    234 Aaron Brown OLB St. Louis
    235 Jonte Green CB Detroit
    236 Johnnie Troutman OG San Diego
    237 Greg Childs WR Minnesota
    238 Jordan Bernstine CB Washington
    239 Kelvin Beachum OG Pittsburgh
    240 Marcel Jones OT New Orleans
    241 Junior Hemingway WR Kansas City
    242 Justin Anderson OG Indianapolis
    243 Kirk Cousins QB Washington
    244 Toney Clemons WR Pittsburgh
    245 Chandler Harnish QB Indianapolis
    246 B.J. Coleman QB Green Bay
    247 Taylor Thompson TE Tennessee


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    Bessire: 2012 Ranking Classes
    Richner: 2012 Team Evaluations
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