Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 12
Last time out it was Aaron Donald who was the pacesetter in our Race for Rookie of the Year. But two weeks is an awful long time in the NFL, where reputations can be made and broken. In that period we’ve seen one contender pick up his first sack, others make touchdown saving tackles and one make a catch so breathtaking the entire world had to sit up and take notice.
But were those efforts enough to derail the Donald Juggernaut? Let’s find out.
1. Khalil Mack, OLB, OAK: +30.8
The Mack is Back. On top at least. Two big performances the past two weeks edged him in front of Donald, with the Raider registering his first sack, delivering plenty of pressure and continuing his stellar work against the run.
2. Aaron Donald, DT, SL: +25.7
Didn’t make much of an impression against Denver and that cost him his top spot. It’s close, though, and if he keeps playing like he did against San Diego (and as he has most of the season) it’s going to be a tough race to call.
3. Joel Bitonio, LG, CLE: +20.3
A tremendous first season keeps getting better and better. Bitonio saw his performance drop off a little when Alex Mack went down but he’s adjusted and is really starring now. Forms one half of the most formidable left side of an offensive line in 2014.
4. Zack Martin, RG, DAL: +18.0
Drops behind Bitonio but through no fault of his own. Has been everything advertised and a little bit more since a slow start to the year. Eight games in the green consecutively.
5. Mike Evans, WR, TB: +9.8
If he didn’t play in Tampa Bay he’d be getting a lot more attention than he is. Really hit his stride, proving something of a touchdown machine and a ray of light in a dark season for the Bucs.
6. Odell Beckham Jr, WR, NYG: +10.0
Let’s be honest, if he hadn’t missed so much time he’d be higher. That catch was special but his ability goes beyond that, with his impact felt instantly by the Giants.
7. C.J. Mosley, LB, BAL: +10.8
Has been exposed in coverage at times, but that doesn’t diminish in his impact all over the field. Has made plays and been a big part of an impressive Ravens defense.
8. Corey Linsley, C, GB: +10.0
Impressive stuff for a rookie to be our third-ranked center overall. Clearly the Packers have hit on something with their fifth-round pick.
9. Brandon Linder, RG, JAX: +11.0
The Jags remain a team in transition, so finding building blocks is about a big a goal as they should have right now. Linder has proven to be one with an excellent start to life in the NFL.
10. Anthony Barr, LB, MIN: +8.7
Found it tough going against the Packers (again) and drops down the rankings as a result. A good year but needs to work on the tackling which has seen him miss eight the past two weeks.
Taylor Lewan, LT, TEN: Someone has to make room for Odell Beckham Jr. and Lewan is the guy. His injured reserve status sees his race run.
Five To Watch
Jarvis Landry, WR, MIA: Really added something to the Miami offense and continues to become a bigger part.
Jeremy Hill, RB, CIN: Doesn’t always take what his line gives him but has the kind of style that ensures he’s still picking up the yards.
Preston Brown, LB, BUF: Well worth an every-down role, he’s not getting the publicity of those ahead of him, but the third-rounder is looking like a find.
Aaron Lynch, OLB, SF: His fate seems tied towards that of Ahmad Brooks, with playing time his biggest enemy right now.
Chris Borland, LB, SF: If he keeps playing like he is then in two weeks time he cracks the Top 10. Only his snap count keeps him off.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled