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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | Aug. 6, 2010

Three offensive rookies to watch in training camp

By Senior Airman Patrick McKenna 316th Wing Public Affairs

Editor's Note - This is part one of a two-part series discussing the most intriguing offensive and defensive rookies to keep an eye on during the preseason.

It's been almost four months since the NFL Draft and the talk of the uncertain futures of the top rookies has shifted to shock and awe over their record setting contracts, their prospective attributes in Madden 2011 and, most importantly, excitement over which ones will help turn their franchise around. Some offensive positions traditionally take more time to master (quarterback and wide receiver) than others (running back and offensive line) and that played a factor into these rankings.

This article will analyze three offensive rookies that should be on your radar whether you're looking at them as potential saviors to your fantasy football team or just as the latest batch of human highlight reels to enter the NFL.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers - The Chargers have been on the cusp of greatness for a few seasons now, but they always trip up when it matters most. They have traditionally been a well balanced offensive team led by LaDainian Tomlinson on the ground and Philip Rivers through the air. The Chargers are entering this coming season with many question marks on the offensive side of the ball. Tomlinson departed via free agency and standout wide receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive lineman Marcus McNeill are holding out for new contracts. What does that mean? It means their first round pick, Mathews, will have a lot more pressure on him than most rookies. Darren Sproles will help alleviate some of his workload especially in passing situations, but Mathews will be counted on to move the chains and keep defenses honest. Otherwise, Rivers can expect a healthy dose of blitz packages.

Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys - Bryant was a consensus top 10 talent who fell to the latter part of the first round due to off field issues. If that situation sounds familiar, it's because another very talented wide receiver plummeted in the 1998 draft only to be scooped up by the Minnesota Vikings with the 21st pick. His name is Randy Moss. The Cowboys passed on Moss in 1998 and owner Jerry Jones has often said that is one of his biggest regrets since owning the team. Bryant was a dominant player at Oklahoma State and has the potential to be a Pro Bowl-caliber wide receiver for years to come. He's fortunate to find himself on a team with a very good quarterback(Tony Romo), a solid receiving core(Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Jason Witten) to take the pressure off of him, and an offensive coordinator with a proven track record(Jason Garrett). Bryant will miss some time with a high ankle sprain, and the Cowboys certainly won't rush him back, but once he's on the field it won't take long for him to make his mark.

Jahvid Best, RB, Detroit Lions - In college, Best was thought of as a Heisman trophy contender thanks to his electric play making ability and that is exactly what the Lions needed. The Lions got an absolute steal when Best fell to them with the 30th pick. With Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and new tight end Tony Scheffler, the Lions passing attack should be solid. What the offense was missing prior to the draft was a running back that defenses respect. Kevin Smith is coming off knee surgery and isn't someone that defenses game plan to stop. Best will immediately be able to provide Stafford a dependable check down receiver with big play ability. He should be fun to watch and will help the Lions take a huge leap forward in their rebuilding process.

There are plenty of offensive rookies who will go on to have successful careers, but these three are the best bets to make immediate impacts to their teams. Guys like Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and C.J. Spiller may have been high draft picks, but are either in a battle for playing time(Spiller) or will take a couple of years to shine(Bradford and Tebow).