During the season, the weekly Rookie Focus installment followed the progress of the 2012 rookie class as they attempted to carve out roles for themselves on their respective teams. The Rookie Wrap-Up will summarize the progress made for these players over the course of the season and determine where they stand entering the 2013 off-season. Team members entering free agency, the current competition and depth chart layout and any public future plans will factor into their outlook in addition to their play throughout the season.
The quarterbacks of the 2012 rookie class were covered in great detail in A New Class of Quarterback, so I will focus on the other offensive positional players. If a player wasn’t a factor during the 2012 campaign, it’s quite possible they are one of my stashes. Without further ado, here is the Rookie Wrap-Up for the NFC West. This will complete the series as the last two divisions in the NFC lacked any rookies who fit the criteria for these specific articles.
Michael Floyd, WR ARI
Floyd’s rookie line would have looked pretty disappointing if not for finishing with a big bang. In week seventeen he had eight receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown, bringing his totals to a respectable level as he finished the season with 562 yards. Keep in mind the quarterback situation in Arizona was nothing short of a receiver’s worst nightmare. Even Mr. Consistent, Larry Fitzgerald himself, couldn’t get anything going. I wouldn’t expect big things from Floyd next season, but he was able to display his upside if the Cardinals can figure out the quarterback situation under Bruce Arians.
Robert Turbin, RB SEA
As the handcuff for Marshawn Lynch in Seattle, Turbin averaged 4.4 yards per carry on a minimal 80 carries on the season – this shows you just how much Seattle rides Lynch, who was fully engaged in Beast Mode this season. In the near future it is unlikely for there to be any major changes in the workload distribution as Lynch will only be entering the second year of his four year contract. If Lynch sustained an injury, however, Turbin would likely be in for a large workload. In one game he was given 20 carries when Seattle’s coaching staff was resting Lynch, showing they do trust him with and extended role if necessary.
LaMichael James, RB SF
James was covered in the 2013 rookie stashes article, but since that time we have seen him in action with Kendall Hunter out for the season. Everyone may not agree, but when I watch James play I see a player who can be used a great deal. Yes, he has a smaller build, but I see a back with a lot of strength and even more burst. Every time James touches the football it’s like he’s shot out of a cannon. He doesn’t hesitate; he just finds the hole and powers forward, even if that hole is congested and up the middle. Frank Gore has shown he still has gas left in the tank, but James has made the most of his limited opportunities this season. He went from being inactive in the first 13 weeks of the season, to scoring a touchdown in the Conference Championship game. He has made some big plays for his team down the stretch, and I absolutely see him making a larger role for himself next year.
Brian Quick, WR STL
After being drafted early in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft, Quick was a heavy favorite to begin the season as a potential every down wide receiver for the Rams. He was likely drafted in the late first or early second round in most rookie drafts, and often high selections bring lofty expectations for immediate production. Instead, he finished with just 11 receptions for 156 yards all season. Despite his draft position, he was definitely a project player that will need some time to develop. You may not see big dividends immediately, but if you liked him enough use an early pick, you should stick with him see what next season brings before jumping to any conclusions.
Chris Givens, WR STL
Early in the season, with his limited snaps, he began his emergence by hooking up with Sam Bradford in several consecutive games on deep routes. As the Rams saw the effectiveness of Givens’ speed and separation abilities, they gave him more playing time in which he began developing some rapport with Bradford. This year the Rams have several free agents at the wide receiver position, including Bradford’s favorite target, Danny Amendola. The Rams undoubtedly want to retain Amendola, but their ability to do so will be limited. A long term deal is the only option, because a franchise tag for the position constitutes more money than the Rams have available under their salary cap. Even if Amendola is retained, Givens has already begun his climb up the depth chart. It is possible that he continues where he left off and begins to develop a larger role in the offense as soon as next season, but his fantasy relevance would rely on his ability to develop as a player and become more than just a deep threat.
Daryl Richardson, RB STL
Richardson’s outlook remains a bit clouded due to the uncertainty of Steven Jackson’s return next year. He is at the end of his current contract with a player option to return for one more season. Jackson says retirement is a legitimate option, but he is just 29 years old and had a very respectable season in 2012. He’s currently sitting on over $7 million for one more year of football. When it comes time to make the decision, I doubt hangs up the cleats just yet.
The Rams have expressed their willingness to trudge forward with Richardson and fellow rookie Isaiah Pead, but it would certainly dim the Rams’ outlook if they lost both skill position leaders in Amendola and Jackson. Richardson finished the season with 98 carries for 475 yards. At this point, he is second on the depth chart as a true change of pace back to Jackson. Pead was the higher draft selection, but was clearly third string throughout the season, and was limited to just ten carries. If Jackson were to turn down the player option, both rookies would get a shot at the starting position in camp, though Richardson is the clear favorite following the 2012 campaign. Both, however, would see a dramatic workload increase. A lot can change in a year, but at this time next year it is very possible that Jackson does move on and the path is clear for Richardson to take over as the primary running back. So even if Jackson plays for the Rams in 2013, Richardson is still a great investment.