Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 10
A new week, a new leader in the Race for Rookie of the Year.
Last time out it was Khalil Mack who led the way, but coming off his worst game as a pro he had to drop back as one man surpassed his efforts. Still this fantastic group of rookies means our new leader can’t rest easy. There are challengers coming from both offensive and defensive sides of the ball in this hugely competitive race.
Let’s see who the top dog is and who are the guys chasing his tail.
1. Aaron Donald, DT, SL: +22.0
He gets pressure, he makes plays against the run, and now he’s the RRotY leader. Donald was supposed to eat into the starters snaps, but such was his impact he became a starter… and his performance hasn’t dropped off.
2. Khalil Mack, OLB, OAK: +22.7
It’s easy to get hung up on the sack number and ignore the fantastic edge setter Mack is as well as the impressive pressure numbers he’s generating (including seven quarterback hits). A bright spot in a dark Raiders season.
3. Zack Martin, RG, DAL: +16.4
After three so-so weeks to start the year, Martin has graded positively in every single game. That’s an achievement for any player regardless of experience, and goes some way to showing the impact the rookie has had on the Dallas line.
4. Joel Bitonio, LG, CLE: +13.8
Slipped a little when Alex Mack got hurt, but if Thursday Night was anything to go by, has found his best form once again. One half of arguably the premier left guard-left tackle tandem in the league this year.
5. C.J. Mosley, ILB, BAL: +13.2
There are ways Mosley can improve, and when you add that to what he’s already shown you get excited about the kind of player he can be for years to come.
6. Anthony Barr, LB, MIN: +10.2
Possibly his most impressive game as a pro came before the bye, with Barr impressing as a pass rusher. In that regard you feel there’s more to come as more opportunities present themselves.
7. Corey Linsley, C, GB: +9.3
Would be even higher but for some early-season pass-blocking struggles. Has largely corrected that and his work in the run game means that this expected weakness on the Packers’ line has become an unexpected strength.
8. Mike Evans, WR, TB: +7.0
Starting to see what Evans is all about, making some catches that really set him apart from the rest. Has likely suffered from the Bucs’ quarterback spot, but these past two weeks especially, that hasn’t stopped him.
9. Brandon Linder, RG, JAX: +10.8
An unfortunate injury halted his charge up the leaderboard but the transitional Jags can be happy to have found a building block on the line.
10. Taylor Lewan, LT, TEN: +6.0
Had some issues with Terrell Suggs which led to a first negative grade in pass protection, but all things considered it could have gone much worse (just ask a hobbled Jake Matthews). You don’t hear a lot about Lewan because of how seamlessly he has replaced Roos.
Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF: Some nice numbers, but five games held to 30 yards or fewer means we want more consistency.
Jason Verrett, CB, SD: A victim of injury with his playing time seeing him drop out.
Five To Watch
Odell Beckham Jr, WR, NYG: The more he plays the harder it is to leave this talent out of the list. Caught the eye already.
Aaron Lynch, OLB, SF: May struggle to crack the Top 10 if the return of Aldon Smith sees his snaps drop.
E.J. Gaines, CB, SL: Again is extremely close to making the list, holding up nicely on a bigger-than-expected role with the Rams.
Bishop Sankey, RB, TEN: Looks the part running the ball, but his all-around game will need to move up a level to ensure the touches he needs to challenge.
Chris Borland, ILB, SF: Opportunity knocks. Borland has been fantastic so far and with Patrick Willis out for the year has the playing time to make a big dent on the leaderboard.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled