The recent performance of Cam Newton during the first game of his NFL rookie season has conjured up the following question. Who has had the greatest rookie campaigns in the history of the NFL?
Was it recent players like Adrian Peterson or Ndamukong Suh or other greats like Jerry Rice or Eric Dickerson? The following is the top five greatest rookie seasons in the history of the NFL in no particular order.
Eric Dickerson – Los Angeles Rams
In 1983 Dickerson broke into the league in grand fashion with the Rams. He carried the ball a staggering 390 times while racking up 1,808 yards on the ground with 18 touchdowns. Dickerson also proved that he was not one dimensional and had 51 receptions for 404 yards and 2 scores.
By the time the regular season was done, he led the NFL with carries and yard, which resulted in Dickerson earning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award
Lawrence Taylor – New York Giants
When Taylor joined the NFL in 1981, no one knew he would forever change his position and the history of the game. During the regular season, Taylor amassed 133 tackles and 9.5 unofficial sacks.
In addition to terrorizing the opposing quarterbacks, Taylor went on to earn the Defensive Rookie of the Year award and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award for his efforts on the turf.
Dick ‘Night Train’ Lane – Los Angeles Rams
Lane entered the NFL in 1952 and his impact on the sport became evident with every game he played. During the 12 game schedule, Lane managed to haul in 14 interceptions in a NFL league that was still experimenting with the pass play.
The last time someone was within reach of this NFL rookie record was in 1964. There is no doubt that by the time his career was done in 1965, that Lane had set the standards for years to come for the secondary position.
Randy Moss – Minnesota Vikings
The goal was high for Moss when he entered the NFL in 1998. The wide receiver for the Vikings had aspirations of becoming the greatest receiver to play the game. He started things off on the right foot when he hauled in 69 receptions for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Not only did Moss lead the league with touchdown receptions, he set a NFL record in the process. He went on to earn the Offensive Rookie of the Year award thanks to his ability to stretch the field.
Gale Sayers – Chicago Bears
The year was 1965 when Sayers first stepped onto the field for the Bears, he was ready to shine. He was electrifying on the field and it did not matter whether he was running the ball or returning a punt or kickoff.
By the time the 14 game season was in the books, not only did he rush for 867 yards, Sayers scored a NFL rookie record of 22 touchdowns; 14 rushing 6 receiving, 1 punt return, and 1 kickoff return. Sayers was the true all-around back.
Jevon Kearse – Tennessee Titans
In 1999, he compiled 57 tackles, 8 forced fumbles, and a NFL rookie record of 14.5 sacks while earning the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Ndamukong Suh – Detroit Lions
In 2010, he finished the season with 67 tackles, 10 sacks, 1 interception, and 1 forced fumble while earning the Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Edgerrin James – Indianapolis Colts
In 1999, James carried the ball 369 times and led the NFL with 1,553 yards on the ground and 13 touchdowns. He also added 62 receptions for 586 yards and 4 scores while earning the Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Pro Football Reference.Com