Rookie surprises, disappointments

As we continue to look back at the 2009 season, here are the AFC North blog's top three rookie surprises and disappointments:



Wallace1. Mike Wallace, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Entering training camp, Wallace wasn't supposed to get many opportunities as Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Limas Sweed were expected to be Pittsburgh’s top three receivers. But Sweed's drops opened the door for Wallace, and the speedy rookie never looked back. The third-round pick recorded 39 receptions for 756 yards and six touchdowns.

2. Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Cleveland Browns: The Browns struggled to solidify their franchise quarterback in 2009, but they did find a pretty good rookie receiver. Massaquoi, a second-round pick, took over as Cleveland's top receiver following the Braylon Edwards trade. Massaquoi recorded 34 receptions for a team-high 624 yards. He may not be a true No. 1 receiver, but he could be a good player for a long time.

3. Lardarius Webb, CB, Baltimore Ravens: Typical of most rookies, it took a while for Webb to get acclimated to the NFL game. But once Webb caught up to speed, he put together a good stretch this season. Webb started four games at cornerback and was the team's best kick returner before injuring his knee. It's unknown at this point if Webb will be ready for the start of the 2010 season.



Smith1. Andre Smith, OT, Cincinnati Bengals: Could 2009 have gone any worse for Smith? From the draft process to contract negotiations to injuries, the No. 6 overall pick was arguably the biggest rookie bust this past season. Smith missed all of training camp and broke a bone in his foot that held him out until November. He played a small role in Cincinnati's first playoff run in four years, but Smith will be expected to make major strides in his second year.

2. Brian Robiskie, WR, Browns: As Massaquoi flourished, Robiskie struggled in his rookie year. The fellow second-round pick was expected to be one of the most NFL-ready players in the draft, but it didn’t turn out that way for Robiskie. He caught just seven receptions for 106 yards for the Browns.

3. Paul Kruger, DE/LB, Ravens: Considering the amount of quality defensive players in Baltimore, many were surprised when the Ravens took Kruger in the second round. There wasn't much playing time available as Kruger had just one start and recorded 11 tackles. He did make a big interception that helped seal Baltimore's win against the rival Steelers. But the Ravens are hoping for more big plays from Kruger in 2010.