Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The discussion about whether Cardinals running back Chris Wells or Vikings receiver Percy Harvin would make the more significant impact in 2009 arguably should have included 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree as well.
Crabtree beat out Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez in whatifsports.com's list of 100 impact rookies for 2009. The list appeals to me because Paul Bessire of whatifsports.com uses algorithms to weigh factors that really do play into a rookie's success (2008 projections here).
Bessire on Crabtree: Unlike last season, when three players eclipsed the mark, there are no 1,000-yard rushers or receivers projected from this group of rookies. Crabtree is the closest thing and it really would not be a surprise to see him do it. He gets great marks across the board from college performance, to NFL opportunity, to "measurables" and even a successful player (Issac Bruce) in this role last season. The only concerns with this projection would be inconsistency at quarterback -- Shaun Hill, Damon Huard, Alex Smith and Nate Davis are the options -- and recent injuries to his feet and ankles.
Harvin placed fourth on the list of 100. Wells placed 19th. Aaron Curry was fifth because, "while some ultra-productive college defensive players have extreme red flags in their 'measureables' that correctly point to deficiencies in their games, Curry possesses great size, speed and strength for the position." Jason Smith was sixth because "all signs seem to indicate that Jason Smith is incredibly talented and yet is still improving."
NFC west players who ranked in the top 100:
1. Michael Crabtree
5. Aaron Curry