2010 Patriots NFL Predictions: Rookie of the Year

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Today, we continue our Patriots prediction series, and take a look at potential rookie of the year candidates.  As with our MVP voting, each Pats Pulpit writer was given a first, second, and third place vote for Patriots rookie of the year.  Lets see how it unfolded:

Name

1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

Marima

Brandon Spikes

Rob Gronkowski

Jermaine Cunningham

Richard Hill

Rob Gronkowski

Devin McCourty

Taylor Price

Mike Dussault

Aaron Hernandez

Brandon Spikes

Devin McCourty

Comedic.Sans

Devin McCourty

Aaron Hernandez

Brandon Spikes

Stephen Verman

Brandon Spikes

Aaron Hernandez

Devin McCourty

Greg Knopping

Devin McCourty

Brandon Spikes

Aaron Hernandez

Explanations and the final tally after the jump!

Marima:

Brandon Spikes has the fire and desire to compete fans love to see.  With a team focusing on finishing strong, Spikes will embody that philosophy every chance he gets.    

Mike Dussault:

Hernandez becomes the safety valve opposite Welker and will have a lot of field to work with. Spikes provides the run-thumping presence that has been missed since Ted Johnson. McCourty immediately starts at nickel and all special teams, his versatility impacts how the entire defense plays.

Richard Hill:

Rob Gronkowski: The Gronk will be a red zone threat that the Patriots have been missing the past couple of seasons. He'll catch in traffic and open up lanes for other receivers and running backs to score.

Devin McCourty: McCourty will surprise by splitting time with Darius Butler and will end up becoming a lockdown corner. His nickname: "The Flyswatter" because he knocks down any ball in his area.

Taylor Price:  Price finds his niche in the offense and ends up becoming a big time producer in the offense.

Stephen Verman:

Brandon Spikes: I see Spikes starting the season as part of an inside linebacker rotation, and making the strong side inside linebacker role his own by week 6. He is an intense competitor, and should team up well with Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren to make the middle of the Patriots defense very difficult to run against. He had a knack for interceptions in college, and great anticipation skills. If he can translate that to the pro game he will become a formidable force.

Aaron Hernandez: Hernandez has the versatility to see a good amount of playing time as a rookie. He is an excellent pass catcher, and should benefit from having Moss on the outside to draw attention. I think Rob Gronkowski will see more red zone targets, but if Hernandez can get open, Tom Brady will find him.

Devin McCourty: I don't expect McCourty to start many games unless it is as a nickle back, but I do think he will have a positive impact on the defense and special teams. He is a very hard worker, and willing to do anything the coaches ask. His tackling skills and physical approach should add some bite to the secondary, and there is a chance he could earn a starting berth if Darius Butler struggles. He will also contribute a lot to special teams, and could end up as the MVP of that squad.

Greg Knopping:

To be completely honest, I had an extremely hard time picking my pre-season Rookie of the Year, as I could see Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Jermaine Cunningham, Brandon Spikes, Taylor Price, Aaron Hernandez, and Zoltan Mesko all having an impact for the Patriots in 2010.  I ended up going with Devin McCourty because of his presence on special teams.  I think he will both return and cover kicks, and will be a very key player in this area from day one.  I also think he has a chance to overtake Darius Butler and grab a starting spot early on.  It's not a knock on Butler, but I just think that McCourty can be that good.  In terms of overall playing time, I think he will see more snaps than Spikes, who will mainly see action on first and second downs.

Speaking of Spikes, I expect him to have a big role with the team in 2010.  I think he will be the starting SILB from opening day, and should see about 50% of the total snaps.  I think he could even develop a role as a leader on the team early on too.  After all, the guy was calling the shots for the second team defense in his first full-squad NFL practices.

With my third pick I considered both Jermaine Cuningham and Zoltan Mesko, but decided I would go with offense, and specifically the tight end position.  While I think that Gronkowski will likely be the traditional starting tight end, I believe Aaron Hernandez will put up the better stats through a variety of different roles.  While Gronkowski could be the better overall player down the line, I think Aaron Hernandez has a chance to make more of an impact as a rookie.

FINAL VOTING TALLY:

1. Brandon Spikes (11 points)

2. Devin McCourty (10 points)

3. Aaron Hernandez (8 points)

Others Receiving Votes: Rob Gronkowski (5 points), Jermaine Cunningham (1 point), Taylor Price (1 point)

A couple of thoughts on how the voting went down:

 

  • I thought the voting was very close.  If a vote or two were switched, we could have had any of the top four win the "award."
  • I'm a little bit surprised that Zoltan Mesko didn't receive any votes.  He seems like a safe vote as he will more than likely be the Patriots only punter in 2010.  Not flashy, but safe.

 

On Monday, we will continue the Patriots prediction series by looking at players who could fall under the category of "most improved" in 2010.

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