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Mel Kiper's 2016 All-Rookie team - 4 Falcons on D


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4 Falcons' rookies on the D.


The regular season is over, and it's time for my 2016 All-Rookie team. Several positions stayed the same as my midseason team, but there are a few big changes. I'm also including my picks for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Here we go:

Offensive Rookie of the Year

dal.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueDak PrescottDallas Cowboys

Let's not sell short what Prescott has done as a rookie fourth-round pick on the NFC's best team. He has held off a healthy Tony Romo with some spectacular play. He finished third in Total QBR (81.7), third in passer rating (104.9) and fourth in yards per attempt (7.99) and had 29 total touchdowns (23 passing) and only four interceptions. This award comes down to teammates Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

Defensive Rookie of the Year

sd.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueJoey BosaSan Diego Chargers

After a long contract negotiation and then a hamstring injury, Bosa debuted in Week 5 and showed all the tools of a star pass-rusher. He had 10.5 sacks in 12 games. He was unblockable at times, creating havoc off the edge and disrupting dropbacks. With Bosa, tight end Hunter Henry, linebacker Jatavis Brown and even punter Drew Kaser, the Chargers quietly have a stellar rookie class. Their new coach will inherit some young building blocks.



dal.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueDak PrescottDallas Cowboys

I ranked Prescott as my No. 8 quarterback before the draft. I did not think he'd be this good. He's an amazing story, and it's impressive how much he has improved.


Running back

dal.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueEzekiel ElliottDallas Cowboys

Did you expect someone else here? Elliott led the league in rushing yards (1,631), carries (322) and rushing first downs (91) and he had 16 touchdowns. He's one of the best running back prospects to enter the league in the past decade. Chicago's Jordan Howard (1,313 yards, six touchdowns) probably would have made the team in most years. But Elliott was on another level in 2016.


den.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueAndy JanovichDenver Broncos

Janovich, a former walk-on at Nebraska, averaged 8.25 yards per carry. Never mind that he had only four carries and one was for a 28-yard touchdown.

Wide receiver

no.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=truekc.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=truenyg.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueMichael ThomasNew Orleans Saints
Tyreek HillKansas City Chiefs
Sterling ShepardNew York Giants

The only change from my midseason team is Hill, who replaces Houston's Will Fuller V. Hill really came on as a pass-catcher down the stretch -- he led the league in receptions per route run (23.5 percent). The Chiefs could use him a lot more next season. Thomas finished with 92 catches for 1,237 yards and nine touchdowns. If it weren't for Prescott and Elliott, he might get Offensive Rookie of the Year. Shepard (65 catches, eight touchdowns) is a reliable No. 2 target for Eli Manning.

Tight end

sd.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueHunter HenrySan Diego Chargers

Henry, who had 36 catches and eight touchdowns, stands out in a tight end class that didn't do a ton in 2016. My top tight end, Jerell Adams, played only 198 snaps for the Giants with 16 catches and one touchdown.

Offensive tackle

det.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueten.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueTaylor DeckerDetroit Lions
Jack ConklinTennessee Titans

Decker had a solid season, flashing All-Pro potential at left tackle. Conklin isn't just the top rookie right tackle; he was one of the top right tackles in the league this season. One guy to watch for the future: Baltimore's Ronnie Stanley, who struggled adapting to the league, but the lightbulb has come on and his play has been night and day from Week 1.


ne.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=truemia.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueJoe ThuneyNew England Patriots
Laremy TunsilMiami Dolphins

Tunsil, the No. 1 player on my 2016 Big Board, didn't get to play much at left tackle, his natural position, but he was solid at guard. His future is on the outside. Thuney was a Day 1 starter for the Patriots, beating out former No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Cooper.


chi.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueCody WhitehairChicago Bears

When I scouted Whitehair before the draft, I thought he would need to move away from tackle and play guard or center in the NFL. He has thrived in the middle of the Bears' offensive line.


Defensive end

sd.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=truesf.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=truejax.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueJoey BosaSan Diego Chargers
DeForest BucknerSan Francisco 49ers
Yannick NgakoueJacksonville Jaguars

I'm going to cheat a little here and go with three defensive ends and only one defensive tackle. You already know about Bosa. He's a machine. Buckner played almost 1,000 snaps for the 49ers and was one of their most consistent defenders. He had six sacks and 73 tackles. Ngakoue was a little up and down but finished with eight sacks and an interception.

Defensive tackle

kc.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueChris JonesKansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs eased Jones into their rotation to begin the season -- he didn't play more than 37 snaps in a game until Week 9 -- but his playing time and production steadily improved. He had two sacks and 23 tackles from the interior of the Kansas City defense and could be an X factor in the playoffs. Alternates for this spot were Pittsburgh's Javon Hargrave and Dallas' Maliek Collins.

Outside linebacker

atl.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=truechi.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueDe'Vondre CampbellAtlanta Falcons
Leonard FloydChicago Bears

Campbell has been a surprise contributor for the Falcons, who have two more defenders coming up on my All-Rookie team. The 6-foot-3, 234-pound Campbell has been asked to cover a little -- he has six breakups and an interception -- and has been stout against the run. Floyd, an outstanding pass-rushing prospect who's still raw, had seven sacks.

Inside linebacker

sd.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueatl.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueJatavis BrownSan Diego Chargers
Deion JonesAtlanta Falcons

The fifth-round pick Brown has been great filling in for the injured Manti Te'o, though he missed four games after suffering a knee injury in Week 8. He finished with 3.5 sacks, 76 tackles and two forced fumbles. The undersized Jones (6-1, 222) can play the pass -- he has three interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns. He also had 106 tackles, six pass breakups and a forced fumble. Green Bay's Blake Martinez also had a nice season.


car.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueatl.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=truejax.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueJames BradberryCarolina Panthers
Brian PooleAtlanta Falcons
Jalen RamseyJacksonville Jaguars

Bradberry has improved and shown some promise that made the Panthers think he could step in and be Josh Norman's replacement. He had two interceptions. Poole is my All-Rookie team's nickelback, and he's the only undrafted player on offense or defense. He had eight pass breakups, an interception, a sack and two fumble recoveries as the Falcons' nickelback. Ramsey gets credit for immediately stepping in and becoming the Jaguars' No. 1 cornerback, and he improved a lot as the season went on. He had two interceptions -- one pick-six -- and 10 pass breakups.


oak.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueatl.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueKarl JosephOakland Raiders
Keanu NealAtlanta Falcons

The Raiders' defense has fallen off a bit without Joseph, who is dealing with a turf toe injury, the past four games. He had 60 tackles and an interception. Neal, Jones and Campbell -- and second-year pass-rusher Vic Beasley -- give the Falcons some hope for the future on defense. Neal finished the season with 105 tackles, five forced fumbles and eight pass breakups.



no.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueWil LutzNew Orleans Saints


The undrafted Lutz ranked 23rd in field goal percentage (82.4), but that was much better than second-round pick Robert Aguayo's 71 percent.


sd.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueDrew KaserSan Diego Chargers

The sixth-round pick Kaser was in the middle of the pack -- 20th in net yards per punt (39.8).

Punt returner

kc.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueTyreek HillKansas City Chiefs

Hill is a dynamic returner who had two punt return touchdowns and one kick return TD.

Kick returner

mia.png?w=110&h=110&transparent=trueKenyan DrakeMiami Dolphins

Drake averaged 30.5 yards per kick return and had a touchdown.

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7 minutes ago, fuego said:

That's almost like having 4 first round draft picks this year. 

You are absolutely right! All would have been taken in the 1st or 2nd round in a draft do-over. Hooper would have moved up to the 2nd round also. Last year's draftee, Jarrett would have gone in the 2nd, Collins would now be the 1st rounder he was projected to be, Coleman would be a 2nd rounder, and the Falcons would not have been able to get a whiff of Beasley at #8! 

With the recent infusion of talent the Falcons should be ready to do something big soon.

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