Race for Rookie of the Year – No.1 at No.1

| September 16, 2011

Week one is in the books and how good does that feel?  Sure sleep has gone by the wayside, but it’s for football, and football always trumps sleep.
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So now we’re turning towards giving some players some credit, and what better to do than a little impromptu Race for Rookie of the Year.
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Yes, the requests for it have been so high that we’re not going to be starting it later as anticipated but rather right now!  Now remember, it’s a marathon and not a sprint, so what you see now will not likely be what we see at the end of the year.  But here is goes.  The Top 10!
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1.  Cam Newton (+6.6), QB, Carolina Panthers

It really couldn’t be anyone else.  Newton actually leads our PFF QB rating which takes into account drops (he was the victim of five of them) and yards in the air (instead of what happens after the catch).  Amazing debut.
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2.  Von Miller (+4.9), OLB, Denver Broncos

The sneaky Raiders made it so Miller didn’t get much of a chance to pass rush by avoiding their nickel (he still zoomed past Jared Veldheer on one play).  Still, he forced a fumble and had absolutely no problem shedding blocks.  Looks like an NFL player.  A very good one.
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3.  Phil Taylor (+4.3), DT, Cleveland Browns

When a defensive tackle makes five defensive stops, you know he’s had a good game.  Taylor was a handful all day and earned his Team of the Week honors, and our highest grade for a DT this week.
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4.  J.J. Watt (+4.2), DE, Houston Texans

If there was a play that summed Watt’s day up, it was putting Ryan Diem on his backside on his way to picking up another pressure – one of five on the day.  Looks like he will be very disruptive.
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5.  Randall Cobb (+2.4), WR/ KR, Green Bay Packers

 

 

 

 

A shocking oversight originally, Cobbs made two massive plays on his NFL debut.  He doesn’t need to be an every down receiver if he can continue making things happen on the occasions he gets the ball in his hands. 

 

6.  Akeem Ayers (+2.4), OLB, Tennessee Titans

He has some work to do when he has a man pick him up, but Ayers did a good job of making some plays in the running game when presented with the chance.
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7.  Tyron Smith (+1.8), RT, Dallas Cowboys

Smith can be happy to have walked away from the Jets giving up just one pressure.  Will need to impose himself on a consistent basis in the run game to maintain and move up from this spot.
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8.  K.J. Wright (+2.2), MLB, Seattle Seahawks

He wasn’t perfect and the Seahawks will be better for the return of David Hawthorne, but Wright made some plays.  His highlight moment was beating the pull block of Vernon Davis to make a tackle short of the first down marker.
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9.  Jason Kelce (+1.2), C, Philadelphia Eagles

It’s not easy for a rookie to go in and play center, but that’s what Kelce did.  Just the one pressure allowed and three really nice blocks.  Never looked overmatched.
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10.  Anthony Castonzo (+1.3), LT, Indianapolis Colts

You have to see the irony.  The Colts have finally drafted a tackle who could be decent, and now they find themselves without a Manning to protect.  The football gods can be cruel.
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So there’s the Top 10 – a brief one  this week since … well there’s not much to say.  The important thing is we’re off and running.  Tune in, week-in, week-out to see how this race develops.
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Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled … and be sure to follow our main Twitter feed: @ProFootbalFocus . .
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  • Steve Palazzolo

    First two picks of the draft leading the way. Good drafting……so far!