30 NFL rookie stats to know for Week 6
With Week 6 of the 2016 NFL season upon us, Director of Analytics Nathan Jahnke digs through the Pro Football Focus database to bring you 30 unique pieces off PFF data you need to know about the 2016 rookie class and their upcoming matchups.
Denver Broncos @ San Diego Chargers
1. Broncos FB Andy Janovich has earned an overall grade of 85.1 this season, second-best among all fullbacks.
Janovich made his mark during the league’s opening game with a 28-yard touchdown run. While he hasn’t made any more big plays with the ball in his hands, he has remained one of the better run-blockers in the NFL through five weeks. The Chargers have only surrendered 3.6 yards per carry so far this season, so the Broncos will need some good run-blocking on Thursday to get their run game going.
2. Chargers TE Hunter Henry is averaging 1.99 yards per route run, tied for fourth-best among all NFL tight ends this season.
With Antonio Gates injured, Henry has played a larger role in the Chargers’ offense the past few weeks. Even with Gates back last week, the former Arkansas Razorback recorded a 74-yard, one-touchdown game against the Raiders. With how good the Broncos cornerbacks are, if San Diego has a big passing day, it will be in part due to strong tight end play.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington
3. Eagles QB Carson Wentz has an adjusted completion percentage of 70.0 when under pressure, the fifth-best mark for all NFL quarterbacks.
One of the reasons Wentz has been among the best quarterbacks in the league so far this year is because of how accurate he’s been under pressure. That’s important because he will be under pressure more over the rest of the season with the suspension of Lane Johnson. Filling in for Johnson will be rookie fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai against Washington’s best pass-rusher this season, Trent Murphy.
4. When Redskins LB Su’a Cravens has been targeted, opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 50.6. That’s the third-lowest mark for all linebackers thrown at more than five times.
So far, Cravens has made his mark on the Washington defense as a strong coverage linebacker (before his concussion, of course). He already has an interception, a pass defense, and four stops in the pass game. Assuming Cravens can return after missing a game, he will need to help stop Philadelphia’s passing attack, which includes quality skill players like TE Zach Ertz and RB Darren Sproles.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Miami Dolphins
5. Steelers CB Artie Burns has surrendered 9.9 yards per catch this season, the fourth-lowest average among rookie cornerbacks.
Burns has only played 47 percent of the Steelers’ defensive snaps so far this season, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play more this week against Miami, a team that stays in three-WR sets for most of the game. Burns has been doing a good job of limiting catches and preventing big plays for the most part, but has been missing too many tackles. This week when he’s on the field, he will likely need to stop Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker.
6. In 123 snaps at left guard, Dolphins’ O-lineman Laremy Tunsil has yet to allow a sack, and has surrendered just one QB hit.
Among the five rookie guards to see significant playing time, Tunsil is the only one with both no sacks and one or fewer QB hits surrendered. Tunsil spent one game at left tackle and another game injured, but both he and Branden Albert are expected back, so Tunsil is likely back at left guard. He should have the opportunity to have his best game yet; typically he would see Cameron Heyward all game, but Heyward will be out with injury. Against usual backups, Tunsil should have a chance to thrive.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Chicago Bears
7. Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue has recorded 12 QB pressures this season, most among rookie 4-3 defensive ends.
On the season, Yannick Ngakoue has three sacks, one hit, and eight hurries. He’s had two to four pressures in every game, including a sack in each of his last three. On most snaps he will face Charles Leno, who is having a strong second season as a starter. After a bad game against the Texans, he’s allowed just four pressures over his last four games. As a third-round pick, Ngakoue has exceeded expectations as a pass-rusher so far, and will exceed them even more if he can get a few pressures in this game.
8. Bears RB Jordan Howard owns an elusive rating of 85.2 this season, second-best among all NFL running backs.
Ever since Jordan Howard has taken over as the Bears’ lead back, Chicago’s offense has had an added element. Howard is coming off of back-to-back 100-yard games, and has 11 missed tackles on his carries over those games along. Each week, the running back with the most carries against Jacksonville has averaged at least 4 yards per carry, so chances are Howard is going to have a third straight strong game.
Cleveland Browns @ Tennessee Titans
9. Browns OLB Joe Schobert owns the best pass-rushing productivity mark among all rookie 3-4 outside linebackers.
Schobert’s teammate, rookie Carl Nassib, is in second at 6.1, and Emmanuel Ogbah is tied for fourth at 4.6. The Browns have been relying mostly on their rookies to get an edge rush, but it will be much more difficult for the Browns’ D-line this week compared to others. They will face Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin, who have become one of the best pairs of pass-blocking offensive tackles in the NFL. The Browns could use any one of their three edge rushers to step up to pressure QB Marcus Mariota on Sunday.
10. Titans RT Jack Conklin is the league’s only right tackle to not surrender a sack or QB hit yet this season.
The only left tackle to achieve this Conklin’s teammate, Taylor Lewan. While the Titans’ scheme makes the tackles’ job a little easier, it is still impressive how well the pair of OTs have protected Mariota. While the Browns’ rookie pass-rushers have been among the best rookie rushers in the league, Conklin should still be able to get the best of them.
Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots
11. Bengals WR Tyler Boyd owns a catch rate of 68.2 percent, third-best among rookie receivers.
So far Tyler Boyd hasn’t made as strong of an impact as some would have liked in Cincinnati. He’s playing over 60 percent of snaps, typically in three-WR sets, but is averaging just three catches per game, and for just 10.9 yards per catch. The Patriots are known for taking away an opponent’s best weapon, and in Cincinnati’s case, that’s A.J. Green. If the Bengals are going to have a strong passing attack, they’ll need some other weapon like Boyd to step up and have his first big game in the NFL.
12. Patriots DT Vincent Valentine leads all rookie defensive tackles in pass-rushing productivity this season.
There has yet to be a standout interior pass-rusher from this class, but so far, the third-round rookie is the closest thing there has been. In 47 pass-rushing snaps, he’s had one sack and two hurries. It will be difficult for any Patriots defensive tackle to get pressure in this game, as the Bengals’ duo of guards have allowed just 15 pressures combined over their past five outings. If Valentine can get pressure, it would be a big help for the New England defense.
San Francisco 49ers @ Buffalo Bills
13. 49ers DE DeForest Buckner has recorded nine QB pressures this season, most among rookie 3-4 defensive ends.
No other rookie 3-4 defensive end this season has more than four. Buckner has seen 122 pass-rushing snaps, so he has only been an above average pass-rusher, rather than a great one. He will have a little more trouble getting pressure in this game compared to most, as he will face Bills G Richie Incognito, who has only allowed six pressures over the first five games.
14. Bills DE Adolphus Washington has a run-stop percentage of 9.1, highest among rookie 3-4 defensive ends this season.
The Bills’ third-round rookie had by far his best performance last week against the Rams, where he had two run stops as well as a sack. More often than not in Week 6 he’ll be facing Joshua Garnett, who is expected to make his first NFL start at right guard. Adolphus Washington usually plays on the defense’s right side, so he has an opportunity to have a second straight big game (being the more experienced rookie).
Baltimore Ravens @ New York Giants
15. Ravens LT Ronnie Stanley owns a pass-blocking efficiency of 94.4, the best mark among rookie LTs over the past two seasons.
In his three games so far, Stanley has allowed one sack, one hit, and seven hurries. He will have his toughest test of the season on Sunday going up against Giants DE Olivier Vernon. Vernon has recorded five or more pressures in each of his last three games, even though he only has one sack on the year.
16. Giants WR Sterling Shepard has the lowest drop rate among NFL rookies, with just one drop over 23 catchable passes.
While Sterling Shepard has seen his catch rate decrease over the last two weeks, that has more to do with Eli Manning throwing more inaccurate passes, rather than Shepard dropping them. This week he goes up against a Ravens team who last week used Jerraud Powers in the slot. He’s allowed five of seven passes thrown his way in the slot to be caught, but for only 37 yards. This should be a good week for Shepard to get a lot of catches, as well as yards after the catch.
Los Angeles Rams @ Detroit Lions
17. Rams TE Tyler Higbee is the only tight end with more drops than catches among players with at least one catch this season.
The Rams used a lot of draft capital to trade up for Jared Goff (who hasn’t yet seen the field), meaning they only have mid- to late-round draft picks and undrafted rookies on the roster outside of the QB position. Plenty of those rookies have seen minimal playing time, with Higbee getting the most, at 37.3 percent of Los Angeles’ snaps. He’s been their second tight end, but has only caught one of the six passes thrown his way. If there’s a game for him to start making an impact, though, it’s against Detroit. Tahir Whitehead has played the most snaps at linebacker for Detroit, and he has the second-lowest coverage grade among linebackers this year.
18. Lions LT Taylor Decker has surrendered three sacks, two hits, and eight hurries over his first three games, but has allowed no sacks, one hit, and two hurries in his last two.
While Decker had a rough start to the season in pass protection, there have been signs of improvement over the last two games. The Rams are a team known for their defensive line, but Decker has a chance to keep up his strong performance this week. Los Angeles was without Robert Quinn last week, and he’s still not practicing this week. That would mean Decker would see a lot of Eugene Sims, who only has one hit and two hurries on the season, despite having 77 opportunities to rush the passer.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
19. Panthers CB James Bradberry has allowed a 50 percent catch rate into his coverage, the best for rookie cornerbacks who have been targeted 15 or more times.
The rookie cornerback in second place on that list is teammate Daryl Worley, at 53.3 percent. When either cornerback has allowed a catch, it’s typically for a lot of yards, but so far, we’ve seen more good than bad out of the rookie duo. Like every year, Drew Brees is still one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, so both cornerbacks will need to be on their A game.
20. Saints WR Michael Thomas forced four missed tackles on his receptions this season, tied for the second-most among rookie receivers.
Michael Thomas has already found a role in the Saints’ offense, and his targets have also been increasing. He saw 11 targets in the first two weeks, and 18 in his last two games. So far he has made his mark getting yards after the catch by making defenders miss. The Panthers’ biggest weakness has been their secondary—which says more about the quality of the rest of Carolina’s defense than it does about the rookie cornerbacks. For the Saints to get the home victory, receivers like Thomas will need to have a strong performance.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland Raiders
21. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill has forced six missed tackles on his receptions this season, tied for the second-most among all receivers.
That number is especially impressive considering Hill only has 11 catches on the season. The Chiefs haven’t used rookies much this year, but Hill has seen an increase in playing time as the season has gone on, and was in for 18 of a possible 75 snaps last week.
22. Raiders RB Jalen Richard is averaging 2.63 yards per route run; third-best among running backs.
Richard is one of just three backs to top 2.2 yards per route run so far this season. His playing time has increased as the season has gone on, and peaked last week with RB Latavius Murray out with injury. The Chiefs have allowed plenty of catches to running backs this year but not many yards per catch. If Richard can break a big catch or two, that will help keep the Raiders’ offense on the field.
Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
23. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott is the only quarterback this season with more than 140 pass attempts and no interceptions thrown.
So far this season, Prescott has been a top-10 graded quarterback, and the reasons why are because he’s successful on intermediate passes, and hasn’t been making poor throws that could lead to turnovers. The Packers have been great at stopping the run and have had one of the best pass rushes, but have had problems in coverage. Both starting cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Sam Shields missed the last game. While the backups have played well, Randall and Shields could be rusty in their return. If Prescott can avoid the bad throws and continue to make good ones, the Cowboys could get a victory at Lambeau Field.
24. Packers ILB Blake Martinez owns the best run-stop percentage among rookie inside or middle linebackers this season.
The Packers’ run defense has been one of the best in the league this year; one reason is the improved play from the inside linebacker position. Martinez is on pace to be the best Packers inside linebacker against the run in several years. Their biggest test of the season so far will come on Sunday when Green Bay faces Dallas. The Cowboys have the second-best run blocking in the league, so this will be a clear match of strength versus strength.
Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks
25. Falcons S Keanu Neal has recorded 17 tackles this season without missing on a single attempt. Only three NFL safeties have more successful tackles this season without a miss.
Neal missed the beginning of the season, but after two decent games, is coming off of his best game in the NFL. When the Falcons drafted Neal they wanted him to be like Kam Chancellor. Chancellor is one of the three players with more made tackles with no misses this season, and will also be playing in this game. After the two practiced together in the offseason, this will be the perfect time to show everyone why the Falcons drafted Neal.
26. Seahawks DT Jarran Reed owns a 12.7 run-stop percentage, sixth-best among all NFL defensive/nose tackles.
Reed has had a strong start to the season playing defensive tackle in Seattle’s base defense. He’s had two to three run stops in each game he’s played in. The Seahawks missed him in Week 4, and could really use him back this week against the Falcons. He will be asked to stop Devonta Freeman, who has the sixth-most rushing yards so far this year.
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
27. Colts C Ryan Kelly is the only center with more than 205 pass blocks to not surrender a sack yet this season.
Kelly has now started his career with 235 straight pass blocks without allowing a sack. He has allowed 10 QB pressures on the season, but still has an above-average pass-blocking grade. This is a big improvement over the pass protection the Colts had last year from their centers. This week, Kelly will have the tough task of blocking Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug. The two have a combined three sacks, nine hits, and 14 hurries.
28. Texans WR Will Fuller is averaging 1.69 yards per route run this season, the best mark for rookie wide receivers.
Fuller has recorded an excellent start to his rookie season with back-to-back 100-yard performances. Since then, he’s caught just 11 passes for 116 yards over his last three games combined. If there is a week to get things back on track, it is against the Colts. They just allowed Cameron Meredith to have a 130-yard game. If Will Fuller can have a big game, it would help strengthen Houtson’s lead on the division.
New York Jets @ Arizona Cardinals
29. Jets LB Darron Lee owns a 9.2 run-stop percentage, third-best among all rookie linebackers.
While Lee hasn’t had a strong start to his NFL career in coverage, he has made a number of plays against the run. This is important, as the Jets will be facing David Johnson on Monday night. Johnson has the best overall grade among running backs, at 80.6.
30. Cardinals TE Hakeem Valles has a run-blocking grade of 80.2, fourth-best among all tight ends.
After Troy Niklas landed on injured reserve, the undrafted rookie Valles moved up to third on the depth chart. Darren Fells missed last week’s game, so Valles saw his first NFL action in Week 5 and played well as a run blocker. His 80.2 grade comes from a small sample size of 21 run blocks, but it’s a good start for an Arizona team that could use a run-blocking tight end. Valles was the only rookie to see any offensive or defensive playing time for the Cardinals last week, and that could again be true this week. His challenge against the Jets will be to help block Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.