The 2011 NFL Draft class gets a lot of press these days. Many of those players are coming into their own in the league now. More importantly, it produced some guys that hit it big early and reached the stratospheric heights of super stardom afforded by a sport with national distribution.
It was a trio of pass rushers that have received most of the press. Von Miller, Aldon Smith and J.J. Watt have been regulars on the Defensive Player of the Year short list since their rookie years. Deservedly so. Those three are very good players, standouts in a draft class that was the mother load of pass rushers.
But now it's time to add a fourth name to that group of other-worldly talents gifted at harassing quarterbacks and making offensive linemen question their faith:
The difference between Quinn and those other three players is mostly their rookie season, the publicity bump of a fast start to set the narrative in a media environment that insists on judging a rookie's past, present and future value based on their first 16 games as a pro.
Let's look at the stats.
No. 2 - Von Miller, Denver
No. 7 - Aldon Smith, San Francisco
No. 11 - J.J. Watt, Houston
No. 14 - Robert Quinn, YOUR FAVORITE TEAM
Why the Rams under head coach Steve Spagnuolo didn't play Quinn more than 584 snaps is still kind of a mystery. Miller and Watts were the only regular starters as rookies. Aldon Smith only had 504 snaps his rookies year. He also had the luxury of playing with Justin Smith and an incredible front seven that put him in a great spot to succeed as a role player in his first season... Quinn certainly didn't have that luxury.
But it doesn't matter now.
Quinn's draft stock got dinged for his suspension at UNC during the 2010 season, one of the NCAA's ubiquitous "improper benefits" things (and here's your daily reminder that the NCAA relies on the same business model as the plantation economy of the Antebellum South).
Ironically enough, Smith and Miller have missed ample time this season because of troubles away from the field.
My point here: It's time to talk about Quinn in the same category as Miller, Smith and Watt.