Comparing 2012 NFL rookies to their contemporaries

The 2012 season is just days away from kicking off and this looks like an exciting season with a lot of big-name rookies expected to make a huge impact. But you can’t talk about those rookies without the inevitable comparisons. Here’s a look at some of the top rookies and how they compare to their contemporaries.

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Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning
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(Associated Press)

Yes, we all know about the many similarities between Luck and Manning — both are the sons of a former NFL quarterback, No. 1 overall draft picks and they both even through a touchdown in their first ever NFL pass in the preseason.

And much like Manning, who played his rookie season with a gutted roster and one standout receiver in Marvin Harrison, Luck also will take over a gutted roster and one standout receiver in Reggie Wayne.

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Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick
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(Associated Press)

Griffin and Vick are the immediate comparison because the two blazed through the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine, strong arms and the fact their respective teams had to trade up to get them. But RG3 also draws some similarities with Manning, too. Especially in the endorsement categories. While Manning has been the reigning NFL pitchman during his career, RG3 is hitting the ground running with huge campaigns from Subway to Gatorade and more.

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Brandon Weeden and Kurt Warner
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(Associated Press)

Warner took a long, windy road to the NFL with stops in the Arena League, NFL Europe and famously, stocking shelves of a local grocery story. Similarly, Weeden has taken a few detours in the minor league system of the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers (he was part of the Kevin Brown trade!) and Kansas City Royals. And like Warner, Weeden will join a franchise starved for a quarterback.

But did you know, like Warner, Weeden will make his first NFL start at age 28? Cleveland Browns fans are dreaming the similarities don’t end there.

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Matt Kalil and Joe Thomas
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(Associated Press)

The Browns locked up the left side of their offensive line when they drafted Thomas with the third overall selection in the 2007 NFL Draft. The Minnesota Vikings hope they made a similar move when they selected Kalil with the third overall draft pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. What’s interesting to note here is the Browns bypassed Adrian Peterson to select Thomas, while Kalil will be charged with opening holes for Peterson.

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Justin Blackmon and Dez Bryant
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(Associated Press)

Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon was a little harsh when he said Blackmon was a version of Bryant, but with “brain cells.” Of course, Blackmon started his NFL career with a run-in with the law. But so far on the field, Blackmon has looked like a man among boys during the preseason.

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Trent Richardson and Jim Brown
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(Associated Press)

The Browns have been starved for an offensive superstar seemingly since the team re-emerged in 1999 (which is why Browns fans were so eager for Peyton Hillis to be a start, going so far as to vote him for the cover of Madden 2012 to disastrous results). So there are high hopes with Richardson, although legendary Browns running back Brown doesn’t seem so impressed. Brown called Richardson just an ordinary back.

Richardson, no doubt, has handled it with class and has not doubt set Brown’s rookie mark of 942 rushing yards in his sights.

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Melvin Ingram and Shawne Merriman
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(Associated Press)

The Chargers hit gold in the 2005 NFL Draft, when they nabbed Shawne Merriman, Luis Castillo, Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles in the first four rounds. Though the team has struggled in the draft in recent years (Larry English comes to mind), the Chargers appear to have a draft find in Ingram, who like Merriman, is a talented linebacker who fell to them. The Chargers got three Pro Bowl seasons from Merriman, can Ingram exceed that?

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Russell Wilson and Tim Tebow
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(Associated Press)

Wilson has a lot of the same characteristics as Tebow as an elusive running quarterback who finds a way to win games. There is only one glaring difference between the two — Wilson is an accurate passer.

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Doug Martin and Ray Rice
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(Associated Press)

Greg Schiano had his first winning season at Rutgers in 2005 thanks in no small part to freshman running back Ray Rice. Now in his first season as the Bucs’ coach, Schiano will lean on a Rice clone, of sorts, in rookie running back Martin.

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Stephen Hill and Calvin Johnson
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(Associated Press)

Johnson and Hill will be linked in most football enthusiasts’ eyes, thanks to their physical similarities and alma mater, Georgia Tech. But realize Hill had 49 receptions during his three years at Tech. Johnson had 48 receptions — as a freshman.

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Morris Claiborne and Kevin Smith
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(Associated Press)

The 1992 Cowboys were an emerging, talented team with one glaring weakness in the defensive secondary. So the team traded up in the first-round of the draft to select Smith out of Texas A&M. Similarly, the Cowboys moved up in the first-round of the 2012 NFL Draft to select Claiborne.

The results for the 1992 Cowboys was a Super Bowl title. Can this year’s version pull the same feat?

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