Race For Rookie of the Year, Week 10
I speculated that this race was done. Finished. Over. Such was the dominance of RG3, who was playing well even if his team was not picking up victories. But with some steady improvement it’s time to take Andrew Luck seriously as a contender (even if the MVP chatter is quite ridiculous).
So could the Colt best the Redskin? Or would RG3 hold on and avoid the curse of the bye week?
(Just a reminder that this concept isn’t about who the most valuable rookie is — I’ll leave that to others).
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS (+23.8)
He’s still No. 1. Yeah, his team is 3-6 but is that really on him? He’s been efficient at times, spectacular at others, and finally managed to reinvigorate a franchise that looked to be going nowhere in a hurry. Despite dropping three on the spin, RG3 is still playing well enough but can’t do it all on his own.
2. Russell Wilson, QB, SEA (+16.8)
Want to know what really bugs me? When people promote the winning record of one player, and dismiss it of another. Wilson has led the Seahawks to a 6-4 record and, much like the other rookie quarterbacks, has been a part of creating that record. He’s not a dink-and-dunk guy (second-highest percentage of attempts over 20 yards in the air) and he’s at 15 touchdowns already. He’s doing more than just hand the ball off to Marshawn Lynch, and has helped bring Sidney Rice back from the dead.
3. Andrew Luck, QB, IND (+11.9)
There’s no doubt a lot of Colts fans can’t believe their quarterback, who has led them to a 6-3 record, is ‘so low’. Well, just because someone has played well recently doesn’t mean we should forget how they played before. This is a season award and if you think Luck was anything better than inconsistent in his first six games you’re delusional. His play since then has been excellent, mind you, and more games like that will see him contend.
4. Kevin Zeitler, RG, CIN (+14.2)
What to say about Zeitler? Six games in the green in our grading system, with only one negative grade (a -0.4 at that). He rarely lets pressure through and is a solid enough blocker. When he gets beat he normally bounces back and looks like a 10-year veteran.
5. Matt Kalil, LT, MIN (+12.9)
I assume Kalil was going to develop into one of these left tackles whose sole job in life is to protect his quarterback. Screw the run blocking, he just wouldn’t want to give up a sack. The past few weeks have definitely considered a rethink on that. He’s making a bigger impact and looking more comfortable in the run game with no dropoff in pass protection.
6. Chandler Jones, DE, NE (+11.4)
Didn’t do much against the Bills, except pick up a solitary hurry and just the one tackle. Post bye-week blues, or is Jones running on empty? He sits out an average of just 6.3 snaps per game for the Patriots.
7. Doug Martin, RB, TB (+9.2)
Flashed some moves against San Diego but that defense seemed designed to stop him doing to them what he did to the Raiders. Throw in a sack allowed in pass protection and we’ve seen him do better.
8. Alfred Morris, RB, WAS (+8.1)
Likely enjoyed his bye week. Sixth-round picks aren’t meant to come into the NFL as rookies and do such a good job picking up yardage and forcing missed tackles.
9. Casey Hayward, CB, GB (+12.4)
Another player who was probably grateful for the bye week after coming off his worst showing. Life can get harder for rookies when they become bigger parts of their team’s defense, with offenses focusing extra attention on how to exploit them.
10. Lavonte David, LB, TB (+6.1)
The tackling machine that is David is now up to sixth in our 4-3 outside linebacker rankings, assisted by a position-leading 39 defensive stops. That’s more than guys like Chad Greenway, Lance Briggs and Jerod Mayo. A real force coming downhill and a big part of the Buccaneers getting better on defense.
Trent Richardson, RB, CLV: There’s been enough in his rookie year to know that the Browns have a player on their hands. Unfortunately, there’s also been enough injuries and up-and-down performances to know they’ve yet to see the best out of him on a sustained period.
Five To Watch
Bobby Wagner, MLB, SEA: After a hot start to the year, Wagner hasn’t been quite as good recently.
Dwayne Allen, TE, IND: Our seventh-ranked tight end has looked ready for the NFL since entering it.
Bruce Irvin, DE, SEA: Added a couple of sacks, but hasn’t set the world alight as a situational rusher as many had hoped. A poor man’s Aldon Smith at this stage.
Frank Alexander, DE, CAR: Not getting much attention and easily overshadowed by Charles Johnson, but Alexander is playing some good football. Has 20 QB disruptions and is featuring more prominently in Carolina right now.
Luke Kuechly, LB, CAR: If it wasn’t for such a horrid start to the year the Panther linebacker would likely be near the top. Unfortunately, his early struggles at outside linebacker mean ‘one to watch’ may be the best he can hope for in the immediate future.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled