Top 10 Rookie of the Year candidates entering Week 15
After a week’s break, we return with the race for Rookie of the Year entering the final stretch. There are just three games left for our competitors to make an impression, so let’s see who is leading the way so far.
1. Ronald Darby, CB, Bills (90.2 overall grade)
A PFF Pro Bowl CB, Darby climbed the rookie wall with a strong effort against Philadelphia that saw him post his joint best grade of the year. He’s been a revelation this year, and it’s nice to see him finishing the season strong.
2. Leonard Williams, DE, Jets (86.7)
Williams is on a hot streak right now, with three positively-graded games. He was better rushing the passer against the Titans than he had been previously this season, but his work in the run game remains his standout skill.
3. Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers (74.8)
As good as he was against Atlanta, Winston couldn’t quite replicate that against the Saints a week later. Nonetheless, the former Florida State Seminole has turned a corner from inconsistent rookie to a guy defenses should be scared of. It’s been the rookie year Bucs’ fans must have hoped for.
4. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams (81.7)
Gurley isn’t the every-down back (like Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon), which will always hurt your grade, but his home run ability makes him one of the true difference-makers in this draft class.
5. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars (83.0)
Yeldon can be really happy with his efforts and what he’s brought to the Jaguars’ offense. He might not deliver explosive play, but he often gains more than his line gives him.
6. Adrian Amos, S, Bears (81.3)
For Chicago Bears fans, seeing solid play at the safety spot represents a huge improvement on recent years. Amos has looked anything but a fifth-round pick, with a string of impressive efforts.
7. Mitch Morse, C, Chiefs (81.1)
A solid rookie year is ending as it started for Morse: good work in the run game, with some limitations in pass protection.
8. Mario Edwards, Jr., DE, Raiders (81.2)
No rookie has played as well as Edwards the past six weeks. He has delivered excellent play wherever the Raiders have lined him up, with his ability to contribute in every phase of the game adding to the Oakland defense in a big way.
9. Damarious Randall, CB, Packers (77.4)
Randall was better against Dallas, but there’s no denying he has been exposed a little in the last month. It’s still been a hugely encouraging rookie year for the Packers’ first-round pick, though.
10. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders (74.7)
Cooper has now dropped 14 passes as a pro—that’s an element of his game he really needs to correct if he’s to be a top NFL receiver.
Five to watch
Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans: One step forward, another back. Mariota had a hard time against the Jets.
Arik Armstead, DE, 49ers: Playing time remains his Achilles heel, despite continuing to make an impact.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks: Lockett is a playmaker who is proving to be more than just a special teamer.
Rob Havenstein, RT, Rams: Havenstein looks like he’s been on an NFL field for more years than his rookie status would suggest.
Grady Jarrett, DT, Falcons: More playing time is giving Jarrett a chance to show how disruptive he can be against the run.