Race for Rookie of the Year: An Undrafted Revelation

| October 12, 2011

Finally it happened.  After weeks of dominating, the front runners in our race for rookie of the year stumbled.
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Whether it be an errant throw from Cam Newton, or a blown coverage from Von Miller, both men showed they are indeed human.  Is it a blip?  Have they redefined hitting the rookie wall?  And most importantly, have they both managed to hold onto the top spots?
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Well, I can’t answer the first two questions just yet, but I can answer the third one by presenting the week five version of our ‘Race for Rookie of the Year’.
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1. [1] Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos, +15.9 (286 snaps)
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After weeks of talking him up, here came the inevitable blip on the radar.  Miller may have picked up a sack, but did little else after showing his first real signs of being a rookie.  His first negatively graded game narrows his lead here, and also at the top of our 4-3 OLB rankings.  Yet still, he remains top.
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2. [2] Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers, +12.2 (357 snaps)
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It’s never dull with Cam Newton in town.  The problem is, it isn’t always terribly effective.  Newton had problems with the blitzing Saints, completing just 47.1% of his passes when blitzed and having some real problems with his accuracy.  The rollercoaster continues.
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3. [3] Mike Pouncey, C, Miami Dolphins, +8.9 (270 snaps)
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No game this week for Mike Pouncey, which just gives us more time to reflect on how impressive his start to the season has been.
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4. [4] Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland Browns, +10.5 (241 snaps)
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Even taking a week off for the bye hasn’t moved Sheard out of the top ten in our overall defensive end rankings.  Is eighth on the year.
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5. [5] Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Washington Redskins, +7.5 (252 snaps)
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Another player on a bye week, Kerrigan has 18 combined sacks, hits and hurries.  Good enough for ninth among 3-4 OLBs – many of whom have played an extra game.
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6. [6] Tyron Smith, RT, Dallas Cowboys, +6.1 (288 snaps)
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Smith got a chance to rest this week after a fine start to the season.  Gave up one sack and six pressures through the first four games of the season.  Nice.
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7. [-] Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks, +5.4 receiver rating (181 snaps)
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It’s become harder and harder to resist the undrafted rookie who continues to impress for the Seahawks.  He walked out with a touchdown against the Giants, but he made more impressive plays than taking advantage of one blown coverage.  A camp star turned productive NFL receiver, and just five games into his career.
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8. [7] Jurrell Casey, DT, Tennessee Titans, +5.6 (191 snaps)
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Despite picking up a sack against Pittsburgh, Casey didn’t have his best game of the year against an interior you felt was there for the taking.  That explains the drop in his ranking.
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9. [8] Phil Taylor, DT, Cleveland Browns, +4.2 (172 snaps)
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Moves down a spot, but only because of the brilliance of Baldwin as the Browns had their bye week.
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10.  [10] A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals, +3.1 (316 snaps)
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Has become the go to guy in Cincinnati, but still needs a bit of seasoning.  Those penalties are becoming too commonplace as well.
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Dropping Out (and why)
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Mason Foster, MLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Someone had to make room for Doug Baldwin.
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Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons:  A.J. Green had the better week, with Jones hamstrung by his hamstring.
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On The Outside Looking In (and what they need to do to crack the list)
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Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders: Catch some balls.  Didn’t catch any of the five thrown at him this week.
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Nate Solder, RT, New England Patriots:  He’s not playing badly, but in a list full of people exceeding expectations he needs to do a little more, particularly in the run game.
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Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings:  He’s playing well, but just 20 snaps this week?  Is being eased in at the cost of his chance of making an impact.
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Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals:  By virtue of being a quarterback who isn’t playing terribly, Dalton deserves consideration.  But he’s not exactly setting the world alight in a ‘all positions created equal’ kind of world.
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Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers:  Need to see him beat up on better tackles than a third string Colts left tackle and Sam Baker before believing in him.  Did very little against Joe Staley.
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Akeem Ayers, OLB, Tennessee Titans: Looked a little lost in coverage, and the Steelers used that to pick up a touchdown.  Needs to be more rounded.
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J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans:  Needs to find that spark he had the start of the season as Texans wisely begin to manage his snaps.
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Aldon Smith, OLB, San Francisco 49ers:  Is bringing pressure, but impacted he can make on this list limited by situational role.
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Karl Klug, DT, Tennessee Titans:  Much like J.J. Watt, made a hot start to the season but had no joy against a resurgent Steelers offensive line.
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Randall Cobb, WR/ KR, Green Bay Packers :  Needs to up his snap count on offense, or make a more consistent impact on special teams.
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  • maeby

    Nick Fairley managed a +2.4 in only 18 snaps this year, all this week. I understand why he’s not on this list now, but he’s about to arrive in a big way.