Most people have RB Ryan Mathews penciled in as AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, but the award for Defensive Player of the year is open; Wilson, McClain and others will duke it out.
Ryan Mathews, Running Back
San Diego Chargers
Most NFL betting handicappers agree that the San Diego Chargers have a prolific offense that can move the ball on pretty much any defense. That’s why it’s surprising to find out that that they ranked 31st in rushing offense in 2009, yet were still so effective with just one dimension.
In the 2010 NFL Draft, the Chargers moved up to select Ryan Mathews and he is already the favorite to win Rookie of the Year in almost every sportsbook.
He’s a big, physical runner with explosive speed and teamed with Darren Sproles, they’ll revive the listless Chargers ground game.
For betting purposes, this will allow the Chargers to salt the clock in the fourth quarter a little better than they did last year and should lead them to covering some bigger spreads.
Dez Bryant, Wide Receiver
The addition of Dez Bryant to the Cowboys offense is going to have a ripple effect through the receiving corps. First off, his transition to the NFL – aside from his early ankle injury – has been seamless. He’s big, fast and could be a dominant receiver in his first season.
But beyond just him, it’s given a kick in the butt to Roy Williams, who might finally come close to playing like the Pro Bowler we once knew him to be, and it has sparked a little fire inside Patrick Crayton as well.
Anyway you cut it, with Miles Austin as the No. 1 target, Bryant and a motivated Williams as the No. 2 and 3, and Crayton working the slot as the fourth receiver, this Cowboys offense is going to be explosive.
‘Over’ should be a regularly mainstay for this team as they will light up the scoreboard regularly in 2010.
Jahvid Best, Running Back
The Detroit Lions running game ranked 26th in 2005, 32nd in 2006, 31st in 2007, 30th in 2008 and 24th in 2009. Enter California standout running back and first-round pick, Jahvid Best.
Best may be diminutive in size but he is an explosive weapon and likely entails the best instincts from any back in the 2010 class.
For betting purposes, though, Best is going to combine with Kevin Smith – a solid, yet unspectacular runner – and give the Lions offense the balance they so desperately lack. This is not a team that will win double-digit games in 2010 but Best will boost the running game, Matthew Stafford will improve a little bit, Ndamukong Suh will help the defense, and this will be one pesky team to play against.
That should translate into a number of covers.
Rolando McClain, Linebacker
Rolando McClain has stepped into the Raiders starting lineup from day one and he hasn’t disappointed yet. He likely won’t in the regular season either.
McClain was the safest and smartest first-round pick the Raiders have made in years. Their run defense coughed up 155.5 yards per game on the ground, which was fourth-most in the NFL. They also gave up a league-high 24 rushing touchdowns and faced 548 rushing attempts, which was also the most in the league.
McClain is not only the solution, but he’ll be the deterrent as well. He is a physical presence that Al Davis will love and he comes from a winning background, playing in the heart of the BCS Champion Alabama Crimson Tide’s defense last year.
While most people like the Raiders as a sneaky sleeper, they should be a good bet on the ‘under’ as well with an improved defense and offense that is still finding it’s feet.
Kyle Wilson, Cornerback
New York Jets
Wilson will be an impact player this year one way or another. The question is just whether it will be a positive or negative impact.
Wilson, the 29th pick overall in the first round, is going to step into the spotlight as the Jets and premier cornerback Darelle Revis are a stand-still in contract negotiations. As he holds out, Wilson gets more reps in training camp, but the truth is that this could be a big blow for the Jets if Wilson isn’t ready.
The Jets love to leave their cornerbacks on an island and blitz with their front seven. If Wilson can’t hold his own, it will weaken the Jets unit – and their case not to pay Revis like one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL.