32 PFF rookie stats to know for NFL Week 12
With Week 12 of the 2016 NFL season upon us, Director of Analytics Nathan Jahnke digs through the Pro Football Focus database to bring you 32 unique pieces off PFF data about a rookie from each team you need to know for the upcoming matchups.
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
1. Minnesota is the only team that hasn’t used at least one rookie for 70 or more snaps on offense or defense this season.
No rookie played more than 10 snaps last week for Minnesota. The most notable Vikings rookie this year has been Kentrell Brothers. Brothers has graded out as a top-25 special-teams player outside of kickers, punters, and returners. He’s been the best among the Vikings thanks to his play both on kickoffs and punts. This week, however, Brothers faces a Lions team that has one of the best special-teams units in the league.
2. Since Week 4, Lions LT Taylor Decker owns a pass-blocking efficiency of 96.2; that’s tied for 10th-best among NFL left tackles, with Cleveland’s Joe Thomas.
It took a few weeks for Decker to adapt to the NFL, but over the last seven games, he’s been very impressive not just in pass protection, but as a run blocker, as well. Over the last five weeks he hasn’t allowed a sack or hit, and had graded above average in run-blocking each game. This week he will see a lot of Everson Griffen, who is coming off of his best game of the season. Griffen had four hits and seven hurries against Arizona—this will be a battle of strength versus strength.
Washington at Dallas Cowboys
3. When Washington’s Su’a Cravens has been targeted, opposing quarterbacks have an NFL passer rating of 60.4; fifth-lowest among linebackers.
No matter which way you dice Cravens’ coverage stats, they look good. His 68.4 percent catch rate allowed and 8.2 yards per catch surrendered are both among the top quarter of players. Last week against the Packers, Cravens played in 85.3 percent of Washington’s snaps, a career high, due to Green Bay’s three-WR sets. One of his best games of the year came in Week 2 against the Cowboys, where he allowed just one 10-yard catch. This time, Cravens will look to have a repeat of that performance.
4. On 49.3 percent of Ezekiel Elliott’s carries, the Dallas RB has recorded 4 or more yards—third-best among running backs with at least 100 carries.
Elliott has been outstanding for the Cowboys so far, working well with their offensive line to give Dallas arguably the best running game in the NFL. The biggest red mark on Elliott’s rookie season, though, came when he played Washington. Elliott has fumbled twice thus far, both times in that game. He had 83 rushing yards, which was his second-lowest mark in a game. Elliott and the Cowboys would like to have a better showing the second time around.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts
5. Steelers CB Artie Burns is one of two rookie cornerbacks with two or more interceptions and three or more pass breakups.
Over the last three weeks, Burns has been a full-time starting cornerback for the Steelers; last week against the Browns, he had the best game of his career. He doubled his interception total, added a pass breakup, and only allowed a 41.7 percent catch rate.
6. Colts C Ryan Kelly is one of just three centers with 400 or more pass blocks on the season and no sacks allowed.
Not everything has gone well for the Colts’ offensive line this season, but one thing that has been a bright spot is the development of Ryan Kelly. After allowing 10 QB pressures in his first five games, Kelly has only surrendered five pressures in his last five games. He’s also been an average run blocker. This week, Kelly will face Javon Hargrave in the Steelers’ base defense, and his biggest task will be to help stop Stephon Tuitt, who recorded two sacks, two hits, and four hurries last week.
Los Angeles Rams at New Orleans Saints
7. Rams TE Tyler Higbee has been one of eight tight ends with 15 or more pass blocks and no QB pressures surrendered.
The only Rams rookie to be consistently used all season is Tyler Higbee as their No. 2 tight end in two-TE sets. While he has yet to be targeted much in the passing game, he’s been a decent blocker. This includes being helpful in pass protection. The Rams will likely need some help in pass protection when facing Saints DE Cameron Jordan. Over the past four games, Jordan has recorded two sacks, five hits, and 22 hurries.
8. When Saints WR Michael Thomas has been targeted, Drew Brees has a passer rating of 111.9; that’s fifth-best among wide receivers with 70 or more targets.
While there are five wide receivers who were drafted before Thomas, none have played better than the former Buckeye in his rookie season. He’s had a high catch rate, and once he’s made the reception, he’s done a great job of making defenders miss. For the most part, the Rams have a strong secondary, but one of their outside cornerbacks, E.J. Gaines, has allowed four touchdowns over his last six games. Depending on who Thomas is lined up against, he could have a big game.
Tennessee Titans at Chicago Bears
9. Titans RT Jack Conklin has a pass-blocking efficiency of 95.9, fifth-best among right tackles.
Conklin started the season with excellent pass-blocking numbers. Recently, he’s run into some trouble, allowing six pressures a few weeks ago to San Diego, as well as allowing his first two sacks of the season on Sunday against the Colts. This week he will see a lot of Pernell McPhee. McPhee has seen limited playing time in his return, but in four games, he has two sacks, five hits, and two hurries on the season. With rookie Leonard Floyd hurt, McPhee could see more playing time this week, which will challenge Conklin.
10. Bears C Cody Whitehair owns the 12th-best overall grade among NFL centers.
As a rookie who moved to center right before the season began, Whitehair has been above-average in all aspects of play, including excelling as a screen blocker. This week he faces the Titans’ strong defensive line. When Tennessee is in its base defense, Whitehair should get the best of Al Woods. The trouble will come on passing downs, when Whitehair will need to help stop Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug, who are one of the better interior pass-rushing duos in the league. Whitehair has yet to allow more than two QB pressures in a game, but this could test that streak.
Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons
11. The Cardinals only had a combined three offensive and defensive snaps between their rookies last week.
Two of those snaps came from tight end Hakeem Valles, and the other from offensive lineman Evan Boehm. However, that might not be the case going forward. Two of the Cardinals’ starting offensive linemen from the beginning of the season are on injured reserve, and their replacements haven’t lived up to expectations. Boehm or Cole Toner could get inserted into the starting lineup if there is another injury, or if the team decides to shake things up. This week, the Cardinals face a Falcons’ side that has Vic Beasley and Dwight Freeney as their edge rushers, which will likely make Carson Palmer’s day difficult.
12. Falcons S Keanu Neal has eight stops in the passing game this season, tied for 11th-best among all safeties.
The Falcons revamped their secondary this offseason with the addition of Keanu Neal in the first round and Brian Poole as an undrafted rookie. Neal has mostly been an asset in coverage, where even though he’s been targeted a lot, he’s mostly been able to prevent big plays from the offense, and at times has made big plays for the defense. The Cardinals have several receiving options, including RB David Johnson, that will require Neal to step up.
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns
13. Giants WR Sterling Shepard has forced six missed tackles, third-most among rookie receivers.
All season long, Shepard has been playing at least 95 percent of the Giants’ offensive snaps, and by all accounts, has been average. One area he has stood out in is making players miss after the catch. When you can be average to above-average as a rookie, that’s a good sign of things to come. This week, Shepard faces a Browns’ team with a below-average secondary, so the former Sooner should have a chance to shine.
14. Browns S Derrick Kindred has three passes breakups, the most for any rookie safety.
Kindred is one of several Browns rookies to find a role in the Cleveland defense. Last week, he played all but one snap, and had his best game of the season. He didn’t allow a catch, and recorded two pass breakups. This week he faces a Giants team that, despite winning, has featured a less-than-stellar passing attack. Kindred and other members of the Browns’ defense will need to step up in order to shut them down.
San Diego Chargers at Houston Texans
15. Chargers OLB Joey Bosa owns a 13.5 pass-rushing productivity; that’s third-best among 3-4 outside linebackers with 100 or more pass-rushes.
Bosa started out at a historic rate, but has since slowed down, with just one hit and four hurries over his last two games. This week he will see a lot of Chris Clark for the Texans. Clark allowed two sacks, one hit, and three hurries on Monday night, in large part thanks to facing Khalil Mack. If Bosa wants a chance at Defensive Rookie of the Year despite missing some games, he will need to have big games in good matchups like this one.
16. Texans DT D.J. Reader owns a run-stop percentage of 8.3, second-best among defensive tackles.
Going into the season, the Texans looked like they would lack depth on the defensive line. Houston added Reader in the fifth round, and the rookie quickly found his way into the defensive-line rotation. While he too often gets blocked by linemen, he has also done a nice job of making some plays in the run game. This week he will often see the Chargers’ best run blocker, Matt Slauson.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Buffalo Bills
17. Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey has recorded 16 defensive stops, tied for third-most among cornerbacks.
Jalen Ramsey was one of the most-hyped rookies entering the 2016 season, though he’s been a fairly average player to date. This week he faces a Bills team who lost Sammy Watkins weeks ago, and their second-best receiver, Robert Woods, is doubtful to play. Against what used to be backup receivers, Ramsey should have a chance to shine.
18. Bills DE Adolphus Washington owns a run-stop percentage of 7.8, tied for 12th-best among 3-4 defensive ends.
After being drafted in the third round, Washington carved out a spot in the Bills’ defensive-line rotation, playing one-third of Buffalo’s defensive snaps. Because Buffalo moves Washington around a bit, he will face several of the Jaguars’ linemen; the one he will see most often is A.J. Cann. For the most part, Cann has been average against the run, but will occasionally have a game where the defense embarrasses him, like last week against the Lions.
Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
19. Bengals WR Tylor Boyd has 341 receiving yards in the slot, 14th-most among wide receivers.
This past week, A.J. Green was lost for what looks to be the rest of the season. This didn’t change the role Boyd played in the offense, but it did lead to Boyd tying his career high in targets, at eight. It also led to the first touchdown of his NFL career. With Green out, Boyd will continue to see an increased role in the offense. This week, that places him against Jerraud Powers of the Ravens. When Powers has been targeted in the slot, he allows an NFL passer rating of 69.8, fourth-lowest among slot cornerbacks.
20. Ravens CB Tavon Young has allowed 8.7 yards per catch, second-lowest for cornerbacks who have been targeted 50 or more times.
After a month in a part-time role, the fourth-round draft pick emerged as one of the starting, every-down cornerbacks for the Ravens. While he has allowed a high catch rate over the season, he’s limited the number of yards receivers gained against him. While Powers will be covering Boyd, Tavon Young will have to stop Brandon LaFell and James Wright. LaFell has yet to have a 100-yard game for the Bengals, and this will likely be Wright’s second game with double-digit offensive snaps.
San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins
21. 49ers DE DeForest Bucker has recorded 33 total QB pressures, tied for second-most among 3-4 defensive ends this season.
Buckner was drafted with the seventh-overall pick, and since Week 1, has played nearly every snap. As the season has gone on, his pass-rushing has continually improved. Over the last two weeks, he recorded one sack, four hits, and 10 hurries.
22. In seven games as a starting left guard, Laremy Tunsil hasn’t surrendered a sack.
For most of the game, DeForest Bucker will be facing fellow first-round rookie Laremy Tunsil. While he played left tackle last week with Branden Albert out, Tunsil will likely play left guard in the coming matchup, as he has for most of the season. In his time at left guard, Tunsil has played very well as a run blocker, and hasn’t allowed a sack.
Seattle Seahawks at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23. Seahawks DT Jarran Reed has recorded three batted passes, tied for third-most among defensive tackles.
Reed was drafted in the second round, and has been playing half of the Seahawks’ defensive snaps even since then. He’s only had a few QB pressures all season, and has just five stops over the last six games, though he does have three batted passes on the year. This week, he faces the Buccaneers with Jameis Winston. Winston has had nine of his passes batted down, tied for seventh-most among quarterbacks this season.
24. Buccaneers DE Noah Spence owns a pass-rushing productivity of 8.6, the best mark among rookie 4-3 defensive ends.
The Buccaneers drafted Spence to help with their pass-rush. So far, he has done an okay job, getting at least one pressure in every game this season, but has only been an average rusher. This week will be an opportunity for Spence to have a breakout game. The Seahawks have had various players at offensive tackle, and none of them have done a good job in pass protection.
New England Patriots at New York Jets
25. Patriots LG Joe Thuney has earned a run-blocking grade of 79.3, 20th-best among all guards.
The 2016 Patriots offensive line has been much-improved from the 2015 unit; one of the reasons is the addition of Thuney. The rookie is the only Patriots linemen to play every snap this season, and he has been an asset to New England’s run game. Against the Jets’ impressive defensive linemen, however, Thuney will face one of his toughest tests of the season.
26. 34.3 percent of Robby Anderson’s targets have come on deep passes this season (throws traveling 20+ yards in the air), the fifth-highest rate in the league.
Not many undrafted rookies end up making 53-man rosters. Even fewer end up as starters during their rookie year. Anderson has made that journey, and he’s become the deep threat of the New York offense. Anderson has had 12 deep targets; only four of them were catchable, but he caught all four for 133 yards. The Jets will need some big plays in order to beat the Patriots, and if they are going to get them, there’s a good chance Anderson will be involved.
Carolina Panthers at Oakland Raiders
27. Panthers CB James Bradberry has allowed a 51.2 percent catch rate, fifth-lowest among cornerbacks who have been thrown at five or more times.
In September, Bradberry had up and down moments with Carolina before missing time with a foot injury. Since his return over these last three weeks, he’s allowed just nine of 17 passes thrown his way to be caught for 69 total yards. This week he faces a tough challenge with Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Michael Crabtree. If Bradberry can turn this three-game hot streak into a four-game one, the Panthers may have something special in their left cornerback.
28. Raiders S Karl Joseph is one of five safeties with 20 or more tackles in the passing game with no missed tackles recorded.
The Raiders made a number of changes to their defense over the offseason, mostly to the positive; one such change has been the addition of Karl Joseph. Joseph only has one interception and two passes breakups, but where he’s shined is not making any big mistakes. He has no missed tackles in the passing game, no touchdowns surrendered, and no completions allowed of more than 23 yards. This week he faces a Cam Newton-led Panthers attack that made plenty of deep passing plays in 2015, but not nearly as many in 2016. Joseph and the rest of the Raiders’ secondary will need to make sure Newton doesn’t get his 2015 groove back.
Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
29. Chiefs DE Chris Jones has a pass-rushing productivity of 9.2, sixth-best among 3-4 defensive ends.
At the start of the season, Jones had a part-time role, seeing fewer than 20 snaps per game. A season-ending injury to Allen Bailey led to a starting job for Jones. Jones made the most of his opportunity, which has led to more playing time. In each of the past three weeks, he’s set a career-highs in snap percentage, peaking at 66.2 percent last week. He also had his best game pass-rushing, with two hits and five hurries. The Broncos’ offensive line has a pass-blocking efficiency of 74.1, which is sixth-worst in the league. Jones should have another opportunity for a big game on Sunday night.
30. Broncos FB Andy Janovich has earned a PFF grade of 84.2, third-best among fullbacks.
Not only is Janovich the fullback with the second-most snaps at 203, but he has also been one of the best fullbacks this season. He’s been among the best run blockers, has the fourth-most rushing yards for fullbacks—despite just four carries—has the fifth-most receiving yards, and has yet to allow a QB pressure in pass protection. The Chiefs have a top-10 defense, so the Broncos will need everyone at their best—including Janovich.
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
31. Packers OLB Kyler Fackrell has recorded a pass-rushing productivity of 10.3, second-best among all rookies.
While Fackrell has been buried on the Packers’ depth chart, when he’s had a chance to play, he’s been among the best rookie pas-rushers, and among the best rushers for Green Bay. He only received two defensive snaps last week, but could see more on Monday night. Starting inside linebacker Jake Ryan missed last week, and Green Bay’s other inside linebacker, Blake Martinez is also going to miss time. This could lead to Clay Matthews returning to inside linebacker, which would leave more snaps for Fackrell.
32. Eagles QB Carson Wentz has recorded an adjusted completion percentage of 76.1, ninth-best among quarterbacks.
While Wentz only has an average completion percentage, but his adjusted completion percentage is higher in large part due to 24 of his passes being dropped, tied for second-most among quarterbacks. The Packers have allowed an above-average 64.8 completion percentage to quarterbacks this season, and after what we saw last Sunday night, Wentz should have an opportunity for a big game on Monday.