Each year we get an infusion of new rookie talent, determined to make a name for themselves in the NFL. Some of them aren’t quite ready to make the leap and struggle in the pros, but others? Well, they show exactly why teams invested time, effort, and draft picks on them.
And that is where our Race for Rookie of the Year comes in.
As we’ve done each week, we’re bringing you the Top 10 rookies with some guys to watch as we count down to the day where we announce our Rookie of the Year. Last week it was Sheldon Richardson at the top, but could he hold off the challenge for another week?
1. Sheldon Richardson, DE, Jets: +21.0
Continues to play his part in the Jets’ dominating run defense. Third at his position group with 26 defensive stops against the run and full of energy. More plays rushing the passer would help him cement this spot.
2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: +13.0
He’s close to picking off Richardson, that’s how well he’s playing right now. With Aaron Rodgers going down he has upped his game, proving powerful enough to break tackles and make plenty of plays.
3. Larry Warford, RG, Lions: +14.9
Sitting pretty as our second-ranked right guard with a series of strong displays, even if he didn’t have his best outing against the Buccaneers. Allowed just three quarterback hits and nine hurries all year.
4. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Cardinals: +12.8
His off-the-field issues and less than ideal measurable meant he was a third-round pick. His play on the field is already proving him worth more than that. Succeeding in the slot and at safety, he’s been everything and more the Cardinals could have hoped for.
5. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers: +11.5
Wasn’t at his best against Miami and that’s been the story of his season to some degree. After impressive performances where he looks like challenging, he takes a step back (or simply stands still) while others move on.
6. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: +13.6
Drops down the rankings on his bye week, more by virtue of some brilliant performances around him. No longer the most eye-catching rookie back.
7. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: +9.8
You often see receivers take time to adjust to life in the NFL, but Allen is already our eighth-ranked wideout with his receiving grade. Clearly already has the trust of Philip Rivers so what’s stopping him moving up?
8. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Bills: +6.0
Took the league by storm, but has settled down since his early-season exploits. Will look to come back from his bye week recharged and ready to build.
9. Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons: +4.7
It’s been a bad year for Atlanta, but on the plus side Trufant has adapted well to the rigors of the NFL. He picked up three pass deflections against the Saints to give him 12 on the year. Not bad at all.
10. Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers: -2.3
The grade isn’t impressive, but after a rocky start Glennon has improved week by week, ensuring that the Bucs have picked up some momentum (and three victories). Given the play of other rookie quarterbacks, that’s worth a lot.
Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: Reed is a victim of circumstance. Dropping out because of a concussion that has halted his rookie year.
Eric Reid, S, 49ers: A solid year and but for his 11 missed tackles would likely have retained his space in the top 10.
Five to Watch
Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys: Our ninth-ranked center on the year had his problems in pass protection versus the Giants, but earned another positive grade in the run game.
Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals: Might find himself stuck on this list if Rashard Mendenhall can play as he did this week. Touches only thing holding him back.
Sio Moore, LB, Raiders: A solid pickup for the Raiders even if he hasn’t generated quite as much pressure as the team might expect.
Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: Looks the part, helping his cause with 7.3 yards per carry against the Bears.
Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Two big games in a row have him back in contention after a tough five weeks.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled