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NFL futures: Defensive Rookie of the Year

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NFL futures: Defensive Rookie of the Year

Making the jump from college pigskin to the NFL is like going from hopping mud puddles on your six-speed to setting up a ramp to clear the Grand Canyon. That’s why it takes most NFL rookies a few years before they hit their stride in the show.

But every season, there are a few youngsters that defy the odds by taking the NFL by the storm. And this year’s rookie crop is no different. That’s where some tasty futures come in at BoDog.com.

Last season’s Defensive Rookie of the Year, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens managed to get himself enough playing time with the club’s defensive juggernaut to rack up 12 sacks.

This year, a bunch of teams are going to give their rookie defenders a go, despite the growing pains that are sure to follow.

Just don’t talk much about growing pains around the Washington Redskins. Joe Gibbs’ new free safety, Sean Taylor, comes straight from the Miami Hurricanes factory. He looks like the real deal, and the books seem to agree. You can get him at +250 to be the Rookie of the Year on the defensive side of the ball.

The 6-foot-2, 231-pounder plays like a telepathic center-fielder defending the pass and hits like a train wreck. That’s why the ‘Skins made him their first selection in the draft.

And dropping the fifth-overall pick on a safety looks like genius right now. The 21-year-old has already snagged two interceptions, forced a pair of fumbles and recovered a fumble in preseason play. Sure, teams are using more vanilla in their strategies than Baskin-Robbins goes through in a week, but Taylor is making plays, and that won’t stop once Week 1 hits.

Taylor’s not the only rookie that could be making a splash in the secondary. Both DeAngelo Hall of the Atlanta Falcons and Dunta Robinson of the Houston Texans are going to be given every opportunity to succeed this year. It might take a while, but both first-round selections could ring up some solid numbers this year.

The Texans pushed veteran Marcus Coleman to the free safety spot so that Robinson could start at right corner. And if he doesn’t start there, the speedster out of South Carolina will probably slide over to the nickel.

Robinson’s listed at +350 to come home with the ROY hardware. He can really go after the ball in the air, and once he adds a few pounds to his 5-foot-10, 186-pound frame he’ll be a decent physical force, too. Regardless of where he lines up, he’s going to be a walking bull’s-eye for opposing quarterbacks. Again, it may take a while, but that will give him the opportunity to make big plays.

Same goes for DeAngelo Hall. The eighth overall pick was schooled last week by Randy Moss. Hall looked to press Moss at the line and ended up watching the superstar wideout celebrate in the end zone after a 67-yard major. Those things are going to happen when you’re learning on the job, but the Falcons are committed to letting Hall work through it on the field.

He’s got great hands and blazing speed. Hall ran a 4.15 40-yard dash on Virginia Tech’s indoor track (4.37 outdoors) and snatched eight picks in his career as a Hokie. All he needs is time to become an elite, shutdown corner in the NFL. Hall’s listed at a fat +900, so he could be good value for the Falcons.

A few other interesting options include the Jets’ Jonathan Vilma at +800 and the Bears’ Tommie Harris at +1000, but if you’re looking for a tasty outside bet, take a look at the Vikings’ Dontarrious Thomas at +4500.

It looks like the Auburn alum will step right in as the Vikings' starting weak-side linebacker. Thomas has the athleticism at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds to make some big plays. He ran the 40 in 4.57 at college, so he’ll be able to fly indoors on Minnesota’s turf.



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