With the 2000 NFL season underway, a new batch of rookies have entered the league with hopes of impressive stats and of team success.
And for many collectors, a wise investment.
Last year a few rookies made their names known, among them was running back Edgerrin James of the Indianapolis Colts. His 1,553 rushing yards, 586 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns in Indiana's surprising 13-3 season was among the most notable rookie debuts in recent memory.
Tim Couch of the Cleveland Browns also had an impressive rookie showing, passing for 2,447 yards and 15 TD's for the expansion Browns. His incredible poise for the 2-14 Browns, showed that Couch could indeed handle the pressure of being the franchise's quarterback and proved his worth as a number one draft pick.
Other 1999 rookies that showed flashes of brilliance included Tampa Bay quarterback Shaun King. He led the Bucs to the 1999 NFC Championship game. Linebacker Jevon Kearse of the Tennessee Titans was perhaps the game's most dominating defensive force as he led the charge towards the Titans Super Bowl run. St. Louis Ram wide receiver Torry Holt also was another 1999 standout as he proved he belonged in the offensive juggernaut that was the Rams. He even caught a touchdown pass in the Rams Super Bowl victory over the Titans.
But enough about these 1999 rookies, let's get into the 2000 class. A class that has some notable names ready to prove they belong in the next level of football. What follows is a brief outline of various 2000 newcomers, their expected impact in the NFL and perceived collectibility among collectors.
Ron Dayne of the New York Giants
Dayne, the Giants first round pick out of Wisconsin has to be one of the most bruising running backs the college game has ever seen. In his final season as a Badger, Dayne rushed for 2,034 yards and 20 TD's on his way to the Heisman Trophy. The Giants hope that Dayne complemented with Tiki Barber will help a run offense that ranked 24th in 1999. If Dayne is half the player he was in college that should be no problem.
Collectibility - Dayne should be a hot commodity among collectors, he should get more then his fair share of rushes and from the first couple of weeks of the season Dayne has gained almost 200 yards in three games with one touchdown.
Peter Warrick of the Cincinnati Bengals
The offensive dynamo who helped the Florida State Seminoles to the 2000 National Championship should be among the most exciting rookies to watch this season. A major threat receiving and even rushing, Warrick could be the offensive weapon that the Bengals sorely lack and need.
Collectibility - A player of Warrick's talents is often dreamed of by collectors and the possibility of Warrick being the lone bright star on a team that has become maybe the worst in the NFL could cause major action on Warrick's rookie cards. With a reception average of 19 yards in the still early NFL season, hopefully Warrick is ready to make his step up.
Plaxico Burress of the Pittsburgh Steelers
Another AFC wide receiver expected to help a miserable passing game. Burress, who smashed nearly all the record books when he was a Michigan State Spartan is a sizable receiver at 6'5 229 pounds and could be a star in a Steeler offense that has always lacked a big name receiver. They may have just found their man.
Collectibility - Could be a Randy Moss clone or could be another forgettable receiver lost in a Steeler downfall. Still, Burress will no doubt get the playing time needed and his fair share of footballs thrown his way. It's only a matter of what he does with those balls and whether he is the playmaker we saw in college.
Jamal Lewis and Travis Taylor of the Baltimore Ravens
Fellow SEC rivals in college, Taylor and Lewis are the latest additions to a Ravens team expected to make strides in 2000. Taylor who played his college ball at Florida was one of the most explosive receivers of the draft while Lewis of the Tennessee Volunteers was considered the best running back. Although an injury kept Lewis out of the 1998 college season, he came back in 1999 with 816 yards and eight TDs in 1999.
Collectibility - If the pair are starters by the time you're reading this, there should be no reason that the duo won't command attention among collectors. Each player fills a void on the Raven offense and Taylor's playmaking abilities, combined with Lewis's power running, should make collectors and Raven fans filled with glee. As a matter of fact, Taylor has two receiving touchdowns in the Ravens' first three games.
Courtney Brown of the Cleveland Browns
The number one pick in the draft, Brown is expected to be the cornerstone of the Browns defense. A defensive end from Penn State, the 6'4 and 266 pound Brown possesses amazing strength and speed, which is evident from his 13 ½ sacks in 1999 as a Nittany Lion. Immediately expected to start Brown should make an impact.
Collectibility - While collectors tend to shy away from defensive players like Brown, to his credit he did have three sacks in Cleveland's third game of the season. If Brown could become a defensive force and the Brown's could win more than two games this season, collectors just may take interest.
LaVar Arrington of the Washington Redskins
The second pick of the draft from the very same school as Brown, Arrington was among the most heralded linebackers in 1999 and is expected to bolster a Redskin defense that was near the bottom of the NFL in both running and passing. Although a little smaller than Brown at 6'3 and 250 pounds, Arrington makes plays and hits. He should add some youth to a newly revamped Redskin defense that features the additions of veterans Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith.
Collectibility - Arrington didn't seem to impress in the preseason and was not named a starter as the 2000 season began. If this Nittany Lion gets lost in the mixture of Redskin veterans, it could be a long season for the youngster and a short life span among collectors.
Thomas Jones of the Arizona Cardinals
Chosen as the second running back of the draft after Lewis and seventh pick overall, Jones in his final season at Virginia had 1,798 rushing yards, 239 receiving yards and 17 TD's. With the Cardinals lack of a running game, Jones will be expected to contribute to an offense that ranked 29th overall in the NFL last season.
Collectibility - Jones will have to prove to collectors he belong and do it quickly. With most of the attention of collectors towards fellow rookie RB's Lewis and Dayne, some impressive first games will be needed for an Arizona team that often disappoints.
Bubba Franks of the Green Bay Packers
One of the most physically gifted tight ends in recent NFL Draft history, the Miami Hurricane had 565 yards and six TD's in 1999 and finished his Hurricane career with 12 TD's, a Hurricane record for tight ends. At 6'6 and 260 pounds, Franks could become a favorite target of Brett Farve who has now lost his previous tight end target Mark Churmura.
Collectibility - If Franks could become Favre's "Churmura," expect collectors to take interest, if not expect collectors to lean towards other rookies and Franks wishing he stayed an extra year in college. And from the early 2000 numbers from Franks, [six receptions, 29 yards] in the Pack's first three games, Franks better hope Farve gets some more pigskins in his direction.
R. Jay Soward of the Jacksonville Jaguars
The speedster from the USC Trojans could be a big addition to a Jaguar attack that already features Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell. For four years Soward was one of college's football's most dazzling yet disappointing players, if he could get it together, the Jaguars may have just found themselves another weapon.
Collectibility - Soward is either going to make alot of collectors and Jaguar fans happy or he just may disappear from their minds. Known to be injury prone, a healthy 2000 season will definitely be needed.
Sylvester Morris of the Kansas City Chiefs
Even though he's out of Jackson State, Morris had 1,139 receiving yards and 13 TD's in 1999 on his way to becoming the 17th overall pick in the 2000 draft. Morris should get some playing time on a Kansas City team that features no standout receiving threat and will want to improve on their passing ranking of 22nd last season.
Collectibility - Morris just may be in the right situation, if quarterback Elvis Grbac earns his trust. Morris could enjoy a successful 2000 season. A three touchdown game against San Diego in the third week of the season is proof of that.
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