As the season takes shape, so does our Race for Rookie of the Year, with the top three spots being so tight it was hard to pick between them.
Still, despite being chased by a couple of guys in black and silver, it’s a player who was declared the reach of the draft by many making a name for himself …
1. Jacksonville DT Tyson Alualu (167 snaps, +4.7 rating)
Alualu jumps to the top spot after a fantastic display against the Eagles. He picked up his second sack of the season and a further two pressures, but it was his work in run defense that propelled him to the top. Last week: 6th.
2. Oakland ILB Rolando McClain (177 snaps, +4.4 rating)
After struggling in his home debut, McClain continued his road-warrior ways with an excellent performance in Arizona. Looks built to stop the run. Last week: 10th.
3. Oakland DE Lamarr Houston (119 snaps, +4.8 rating)
After his breakout Week 2, this week was more of a breakdown. He couldn’t get anything going against a weak Cardinals line. Last week: 1st.
4. St. Louis QB Sam Bradford (222 snaps, +3.5 rating)
Bit of a drop for Bradford this week despite picking up his first win. It was a concern how he struggled when pressure came his way and it’s only going to get worse as the season goes on. Still, he’s the top offensive rookie thus far. Last week: 2nd.
5. Miami OLB Koa Misi (118 snaps, +3.7 rating)
It was a slightly underwhelming performance from Misi, who really struggled against D’Brickashaw Ferguson. To no surprise, he’s struggled against the better left tackles (he’s been primarily lined up on the right side). Last week: 3rd.
6. Cleveland S T.J. Ward (194 snaps, +2.7 rating)
Less noticeable than the guy that follows him in the rankings but Ward rebounded from his Week 2 struggles with a big performance in Week 3. Has settled in wonderfully to the complex Cleveland defense. Last week: Not ranked.
7. Seattle S Earl Thomas (238 snaps, +2.2 rating)
Let’s not get all Jairus Byrd on Thomas. He’s played well but two interceptions don’t tell the story of an inconsistent game. Last week: 4th.
8. New England TE Rob Gronkowski (132 snaps, +3.2 rating)
The less heralded of New England’s rookie tight ends, Gronkowski is the type of tight end we love. He can make plays in the passing game, but looks a more than credible blocker. Last week: Not ranked.
9. Cincinnati WR Jordan Shipley (145 snaps, +2.2 rating)
Still no drops through the year while catching 13 of the 16 balls thrown his way. Does he have some sort of magic spell to make Carson Palmer more accurate? Last week: 7th.
10. Kansas City CB/KR/PR Javier Arenas (67 snaps, +1.7 rating, +3.5 return rating)
While Arenas has performed commendably as the Chiefs’ nickel back, it’s his kick- and punt-return ability that has got him this spot. Currently our top-ranked returner and a threat whenever he touches the ball. Last week: Not ranked.
Dropped out: Devin McCourty (5th), Sam Shields (8th) and Gerald McCoy (9th)
On the rise: Detroit DT Ndamukong Suh, Dallas WR Dez Bryant, Denver CB Perrish Cox.