Top 15 NFL Players Who Peaked As Rookies

As Todd Gurley continues to tear up in the league in his first season with the St. Louis Rams it's easy to anoint him the next Adrian Peterson, but sometimes players don't have the careers you might think from their rookie season. In the NFL, a player's career can change in a single play because of injury.

Many players have burst on the scene in their first year, only to flame out as their careers went along. This is especially true for the running back position, which is a young man's position. The next time a rookie, like Marcus Mariota in his first NFL game, puts up huge stats in their rookie season, you may want to remember this list that shows it doesn't always go according to plan.

In 2012, we saw an incredible influx of rookie quarterbacks in the NFL, with the big three being Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. Wilson has already been to two Super Bowls and won one, Luck has carried Indianapolis to three straight postseasons, while RGIII has had trouble getting his career back on track since a serious knee injury derailed his career in a playoff game against Seattle. Ryan Tannehill was from that 2012 class as well and has also shown promise.

Last year, it was a bevy of wide receivers taking the league by storm, including Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans and Sammy Watkins and Kelvin Benjamin all broke 1,000 yards receiving.

Here are the top 15 NFL players who peaked in their rookie season.

15 Anthony Thomas


14 Cadillac Williams


13 Brian Cushing

via AP Photo

12 Mike Anderson


11 Alfred Morris

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

10 Doug Martin

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

9 Matt Kalil

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

8 Michael Clayton

AP Photo/Reinhold Matay

7 Ickey Woods


6 Don Woods


5 Mike Ditka


4 Jevon Kearse


3 Vince Young


Vince Young burst onto the NFL stage after being taken 3rd overall by the Titans following his steller season with the Texas Longhorns. Young has rare athleticism for a QB his size and led the Titans to numerous dramatic come-from behind victories. In his rookie season Young put up 2,199 passing yards, 12 TDs, 13 INTs to go along with 552 rushing yards and six rushing TDs. VY won Offensive Rookie of the Year and even played in the Pro Bowl that season.

2 Steve Slaton

AP Photo/Paul Connors

1 Robert Griffin III


It all started so great that it almost made the Redskins' disastrous trade look like a stroke of genius. RGIII took the league by storm with his command of the read option and his ability to drop in the long ball off of play-action. It seems ridiculous to think about now, but during his rookie season people questioned whether the Colts were right to go with Andrew Luck first overall. RGIII became the first player in NFL history to lead the league in yards per attempt as a passer and as a rusher in the same season. He led what was supposed to be a terrible Redskins team to the NFC East division title, throwing 20 touchdowns and running from another seven.

It's all fallen apart quickly for him, suffering a series of knee injuries, he has struggled to find his form and progress as a pocket-passing QB. The low point has come this season as he sits on the sideline and watches Kirk Cousins throw interceptions as the starting QB for the Redskins.

Give TheSportster a Thumbs up!

Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?

Get Your Free Access Now!

More in NFL

Top 15 NFL Players Who Peaked As Rookies