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5/03/2006 12:00:00 PM

Top Rookie Of The Year Candidates

Joseph Addai
Joseph Addai will try to replace Edgerrin James in Indianapolis.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Here are my top five candidates for offensive and defensive Rookie of the Year. Check 'em out and share your favorites for the award.

OFFENSE

1. Reggie Bush, RB, Saints: OK, so this is the obvious choice. Bush will probably hold out, but it doesn't take much time to get a running back ready. Barry Sanders ran for 1,470 yards his rookie year. Bush will have that kind of impact.

2. DeAngelo Williams, RB, Panthers: Coach Jon Fox says he wants to get back to the old-fashioned running game this year. If so, incumbent starter DeShaun Foster isn't going to last long and Williams should get a healthy share of carries.

3. Joseph Addai, RB, Colts: He's fast and will be running through gaping holes.

4. Matt Leinart, QB, Cardinals: Arizona is the perfect situation for a quarterback to put up numbers. Now all Leinart has to do is wait for a Kurt Warner meltdown and ditch his new girlfriend Paris Hilton.

5. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars: I really want to put a tight end on this list because there were so many good ones in the draft. Lewis is outstanding and will be an instant safety valve for Byron Leftwich. Sorry Vernon Davis, the 49ers are just too bad.

DEFENSE

1. A.J. Hawk, LB, Packers: The most polished prospect in the draft, Hawk will be the standout player on a defense that ranked seventh overall last season.

2. Bobby Carpenter, LB, Cowboys: Rookie linebackers have thrived in recent years and Dallas is a great spot for the versatile Carpenter.

3. Haloti Ngata, DT, Ravens: The 337-pound tackle fits perfectly in a defense that will be as stingy as ever. It's a shame interior linemen get no credit.

4. Mario Williams, DE, Texans: After passing on Bush, the Texans need to have Williams succeed and they'll gameplan accordingly, doing whatever they can to open up lanes to the quarterback.

5. Johnathan Joseph, CB, Bengals: Opponents will throw at Joseph, so the speedster out of South Carolina will get burned, but he'll also fill up his stat sheet with a few interceptions. If Michael Huff wasn't in Oakland, he'd be a candidate. And Antonio Cromartie could be special as well.

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4/30/2006 02:19:00 PM

Who are your winners and losers?

Reggie Bush
Matt Leinart didn't seem happy to fall to the Cardinals at No. 10 in the draft.
AP
The media have two key criteria for selecting which teams were winners and losers on draft weekend. 1) They love talent positions. 2) Guys who fall lower than they were slated in most mock drafts are big bargains.

Based on this formula, the media's winners are obvious:

1. Arizona: Matt Leinart at No. 10 was a double-winner: he's a quarterback (talent position) and was selected lower than he was originally slated in mock drafts.

2. Broncos: Traded up (another sure-fire way to be labeled a winner) and drafted a talent position (QB Jay Cutler).

3. Eagles: Got offensive lineman Winston Justice, a top-15 talent in mock-draft land, who fell to No. 39. And drafted WR Jeremy Bloom, who is famous.

4. Any other team that went with a talent position: Saints (RB Reggie Bush), Titans (QB Vince Young), 49ers (TE Vernon Davis), Patriots (RB Laurence Maroney), Steelers (WR Santonio Holmes) etc.

Obviously, these criteria have nothing to do with reality, or the first round would be loaded with QBs, RBs and WRs, and mock drafts would actually mean something.

My criteria for picking winners is much simpler. Smart teams generally do well and struggling teams usually screw up. Based on this theory, the draft's winners are New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Carolina (by pure coincidence, they all took talent positions and guys who fell). Houston, Arizona, San Francisco (under the current regime) and Oakland were the losers.

That might not sound smart, especially with the rapid rate of turnover in the NFL standings, but I guarantee it'll look wiser in two years than all the winners and losers in this morning's papers.

This is your chance to chime in with how everyone did this weekend. Give me your biggest winner and loser and we'll post it immediately.

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