First Rounders in Focus: Week 8
With featured first-rounders now reaching the 500-snap mark and others still looking for a regular spot on the field, Khaled Elsayed offers a look at how this season's highest-drafted rookies ...
First Rounders in Focus: Week 8
With eight weeks down the tape on the rookie class of 2013 is building. For some players that is a good thing, for others? Well they continue to take their lumps and hope that the experience of their debut season stands them in good stead going forward.
As we do from time to time, we’re going to look at each and every single pick from the first round and give you a rundown on what their grade is, how many snaps they’ve played and then offer a little analysis.
Ready, set, go!
1. Eric Fisher, T, Kansas City Chiefs
Analysis: If the Chiefs were not 8-0 there would be a lot more scrutiny of the first overall pick. In short, he hasn’t been very good. Flagged for six penalties and with his run and pass blocking earning negative grades, the fans will hope he’s learning on the job.
2. Luke Joeckel, T, Jacksonville Jaguars
Analysis: Since last we spoke, Joeckel has been recovering after landing on Injured Reserve. It means he’ll avoid some of the stink of the Jaguars so far winless season, hoping to return to a roster filled out with a few more starting caliber players.
3. Dion Jordan, DE, Miami Dolphins
Analysis: Purely a situational player and even then it’s a strictly obvious passing downs one. That means we can’t expect the kind of contribution we saw from Aldon Smith in his rookie year but his 14 quarterback disruptions on 94 pass rushing snaps are a useful return. Playing time is the biggest thing holding him back.
4. Lane Johnson, T, Philadelphia Eagles
Analysis: Amongst some moments of solid play, Johnson has generally been found wanting with his pass protection where all of his negative grade (and some) comes from. He’s already surrendered seven sacks, five hits and 30 hurries.
5. Ezekial Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
Analysis: The four sacks are a nice return, but his pass rushing production hasn’t been quite what the team might have hoped. He has more total pressure than Jordan (17 QB disruptions) but it’s taken him an extra 105 snaps to earn it. His work in the run game has warranted a positive grade, though.
6. Barkevious Mingo, OLB, Cleveland Browns
Analysis: Got plenty of action with Jabaal Sheard out injured, and now that he’s back Mingo is still seeing the field but not doing enough to suggest he should be starting. Much like the man selected above him, not producing enough pressure relative to how many times he’s rushing the passer. Have been flashes.
7. Jonathan Cooper, G, Arizona Cardinals
Analysis: Injured in preseason. 2014 will be when he gets to test himself.
8. Tavon Austin, WR, St Louis Rams
Analysis: A tough start to things for Austin who has dropped five of his 46 targets and is averaging only 6.7 yards per catch. His luck is rotten enough that even when he does hit a home run it gets called back (as in the Panthers game). This isn’t what the Rams imagined when they brought him in.
9. Dee Milliner, CB, New York Jets
Analysis: Here’s a riddle. Who has more benchings than pass break ups, but fewer benchings than touchdowns he allowed? Of course the answer is Milliner who has endured a very tricky start to life in the NFL, picking up the second-lowest coverage grade of all cornerbacks and being saved on more than one occasion by some erratic quarterback play.
10. Chance Warmack, G, Tennessee Titans
Analysis: While Warmack hasn’t exactly excelled in the run game, he’s been a lot better there then in pass protection where he’s already allowed four sacks, one hit and 14 hurries. Advertised as being a stud from Day 1, he’s only served to show that the gap from college to the pros is more significant than some might think.
11. D.J. Fluker, T, San Diego Chargers
Analysis: Grade would arguably be higher but for a stint at left tackle when the team lost linemen like it was going out of fashion. Had his pass protection exposed there, but has strangely been unable to really impose himself in the run game yet.
12. D.J. Hayden, CB, Oakland Raiders
Analysis: Has been a lot better since missing a frankly ridiculous six tackles versus the Broncos (outside of that he has just one miss). That bodes well and he’s settling into life as the team’s outside corner in their sub-package defense.
13. Sheldon Richardson, DE, New York Jets
Analysis: After a hot start he’s slowed down a little, but our Race for Rookie of the Year still has him top of the charts. The team might have been expecting more pressure but it’s been against the run that Richardson has starred. That’s why he’s our sixth-ranked 3-4 end.
14. Star Lotulelei, DT, Carolina Panthers
Analysis: Arguably the form rookie right now with his work against the run standing out as much as any other. It’s not just that he’s clogging up running lanes, but he has a real knack for getting off the ball as his 12.5 Run Stop Percentage shows. That’s fourth best of all defensive tackles.
15. Kenny Vacaro, S, New Orleans Saints
Analysis: Certainly making his presence felt and has earned a positive for his good work in the run game where he really shows off his instincts. Less effective rushing the passer (and the team isn’t shy about blitzing him) and has been found wanting in coverage on more than one occasion.
16. E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Analysis: Hasn’t played since picking up a knock versus the Browns. Unfortunately for him, in that period no player has done enough to take him off the bottom of our quarterback rankings.
17. Jarvis Jones, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Analysis: Was handed the starting job but then lost it because of blowing assignments. Just six QB disruptions on 75 pass rushes speaks to his lack of opportunity, but when he has been on the field he’s hardly wowed. Slow start.
18. Eric Reid, S, San Francisco 49ers
Analysis: Despite his poor tackling (nine missed tackles) he’s taken to the task of replacing Dashon Goldon extremely well, rarely putting a foot wrong in coverage and making a number of big plays on the ball. The team is better for his ability.
19. Justin Pugh, RT, New York Giants
Analysis: Has got better after his tough opening quarter to the season, and amassed a +3.8 grade over his last four games. No longer the liability he once appeared to be in pass protection, the Giants will no doubt be both happy with how he is coming along, but eager to see more.
20. Kyle Long, G, Chicago Bears
Analysis: A tale of two players. On one hand you’ve got the man with our 10th-highest rating among guards with his run blocking. On the other, 52 guards have a higher pass blocking grade and Long has allowed 17 quarterback disruptions. A promising first season.
21. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Analysis: With 293 yards passing, Eifert is certainly being eased into things as the Bengals become a predominantly two tight end team. Three drops on 34 targets isn’t great, but there have been glimpses of what led the team to spend a first-round pick on him.
22. Desmond Trufant, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Analysis: Has rather interestingly managed to pick up at least one pass break up in each of his seven starts. Not too shabby. Of course there’s more to life in the NFL than just PDs (he’s been flagged for three penalties, for example), but it’s been a steady to start to things for Trufant.
23. Shariff Floyd, DT, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Hasn’t really proved anyone wrong yet with his draft day drop. A part of the Vikings’ rotation, he has seven quarterback disruptions but has failed to make a real impression against the run. The team is easing him into a more prominent role in the years to come.
24. Bjorn Werner, OLB, Indianapolis Colts
Analysis: Is close to returning after picking up an injury after two snaps against the Jaguars in Week 4. Hardly set the world alight in that period, but they will be hoping he comes back better for the time off.
25. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: An uneventful time of things outside of getting flagged a poor four times. Yet to allow a touchdown and does a decent job for the most part of not letting receivers in behind him with the 19 catches he’s allowed averaging just 9.6 yards.
26. Datone Jones, DE, Green Bay Packers
Analysis: He’s being eased into things as the snap count would suggest, with the team expecting him to make a contribution in their sub-package, obvious passing situation defense. He hasn’t. Not yet, anyway, but it should be noted he’s had two stronger performances in his last three weeks. Baby steps.
27. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
Analysis: It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for Hopkins. When Andre Johnson was down he was making plays, but with him back he’d found his opportunities to impress somewhat limited. After 19 targets in the first two weeks he’s had 23 in the following five. A knack for making plays though.
28. Sylvester Williams, DT, Denver Broncos
Analysis: Featured in all bar one game but yet to manage more than 20 snaps. The team clearly hasn’t deemed him ready to play in a meaningful manner and with as many missed tackles (two) as tackles (and just the one quarterback disruption), you can see why.
29. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Analysis: Well he hasn’t exactly seen a lot of playing time on offense has he? But where he has made a big contribution is on special teams where his kick returning sees him leading our rankings in that department. Still is there a logical reason why he’s not getting more snaps?
30. Alec Ogletree, LB, St Louis Rams
Analysis: The every-down linebacker has certainly made his share of plays and definitely has a nose for the ball-carrier. Of course eight tackles are too many for him to miss and he’s been a pretty ineffective blitzer. Small gripes but the team will no doubt be happy with him.
31. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys
Analysis: One of the most scrutinized draft picks, Frederick has come in and upgraded a position of weakness for the Cowboys. Can you ask much more than that? Possibly. If he was as good in pass protection as he was with his run blocking he’d be higher than 10th in our center rankings.
32. Matt Elam, S, Baltimore Ravens
Analysis: Might be better in the long run playing the role that James Ihedigbo has excelled in, but is adjusting to what is being asked of him, with his best performance of the year coming against the Steelers.
Check back tomorrow for a look at the second-rounders.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled