60 freaking million dollars! That is a helluva lot of money. They only thing worse than making all that money, is living up to the responsibilities and expectations that go along with it. Can you imagine walking into training camp the day after you signed the largest contract for any safety ever? Can you imagine what all his teammates were thinking? Can you imagine all the wide receivers and other defensive backs trying to out play him on every practice snap? Just to one up the “poor man”.
The last thing Eric Berry needs is more pressure; which is why I am saying to all of you, that we must not expect our new beloved safety to be anything other than an above average rookie in his first year. The NFL has one hell of a learning curve, and not many rookies get out of the gate running full speed.
So what can we expect from Eric Berry in his rookie year? Only time will tell. However, we can look to the past for some hints. (I think you will see from the following stats that the bar is not that high). Here is a list of current safeties (*save Sean Taylor) and their rookie stats:
More after the jump:
Ed Reed; Year 2002, 16 games, 85 Tackles, 1 Sack, 5 Interceptions
Kerry Rhodes; Year 2005, 16 Games, 85 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Interception
*Sean Taylor; Year 2004, 15 Games, 60 Tackles, 1 Sack, 4 Interceptions
Troy Palomalu; Year 2003, 16 Games, 38 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 0 Interceptions
Donte Whitner; Year 2006, 15 Games, 37 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 1 Interception
Adrian Wilson; Year 2001, 16 Games, 32 Tackles. 0.5 Sacks, 2 Interceptions
Brandon Meriweather; Year 2001, 32 Tackles, 0 sacks, 0 interceptions
Jarrad Page, Year 2006, 16 Games 30 tackles, 1 Sack, 3 Interceptions
Jon McGraw, Year 2002, 15 Games, 30 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 1 interception
Bob Sanders; Year 2004, 6 Games, 29 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 0 Interceptions
Antrel Rolle, Year 2005, 5 Games, 28 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 1 Interception
OJ Otogwe; Year 2005, 12 Games, 11 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 Interceptions
Bernard Pollard, Year 2006, 16 Games, 10 Tackles, 0 Sacks, 0 interceptions
The abovementioned players played in a lot of games, some started all their games, and some did not. As you can see, Ed Reed, Kerry Rhodes, and Sean Taylor had stellar rookie years (they started every game). Troy Palomalu also had decent stats, but a good majority of starting safeties did very little in their rookie years. So while looking at the above list it is hard not to get excited about Berry, who is arguably a better athlete coming out of college than those listed. But we must temper this excitement. I would not be shocked to see Berry shatter those rookie stats, especially since he will be plugged in as a starter right away, but, it is nice to know that Eric Berry needs to do little (i.e. have more than 38 tackles, 1-2 sacks and/or interceptions to have a solid rookie campaign. Isn’t it?
* Sean Taylor was mentioned simply do to the high draft position comparisons with Berry.