Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 13
Is this the week Sheldon Richardson secured himself our top vote?
The stellar run defender has his flaws but his nonstop motor and knack for making plays against the run mean he’s got the kind of lead that is going to be hard to catch. Of course that’s not to say it’s insurmountable with a couple of offensive players making their cases this week.
Let’s see who is in the Top 10.
1. Sheldon Richardson, DE, Jets: +25.0
This was a week where he took advantage of others slipping even as the Jets got thumped by the Dolphins. We say it every week that the team might like a little more pressure from him, but his work in the run game (which peaked this week) has been so good he’s the stand out rookie.
2. Larry Warford, RG, Lions: +19.0
Warford was solid against the Packers, notching his sixth grade in the green of the season and his third consecutive positive run blocking grade. He has been a huge addition for the Lions.
3. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: +12.0
At this point he is the stand out receiver from the 2013 draft class. Allen has displayed some good chemistry with Philip Rivers and with 843 yards already looks set to break the 1,000 yard mark before the season is done. The last rookie wide receiver to go over 1,000 yards was AJ Green in 2011.
4. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Cardinals: +14.3
If the draft were redone today where do you think Mathieu would go? The versatile defensive back continues to make positive plays, proving a perfect fit in Arizona.
5. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers: +14.0
Returned to his best against the Buccaneers with his fourth highest grade of the year. As usual some good work in the run game, but with a hit and two hurries picked up his highest pass rushing grade of the year.
6. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: +13.9
There was a period when his snaps went up but in recent weeks those numbers have come down and he hasn’t had quite as much opportunity to impress. At times he’s been breathtaking but largely teasing, Bernard looks a back with a big future.
7. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: +11.9
Lacy drops down big this week as he couldn’t get anything going against the Lions. A lot of that was down to his blocking but we expect a power back like Lacy to make a few things happen.
8. Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons: +6.1
Showed tremendous speed to chase down C.J. Spiller and went to 13 on the year for pass break ups. When you see him on the field now you don’t feel like you’re watching a rookie.
9. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Bills: +5.6
Alonso isn’t generating quite the buzz he did earlier in the year when he was fighting at the top of this race. Six games consecutively now where he’s graded between -1.0 and +1.0.
10. Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: +9.9
A significant part of the Panthers defensive tackle rotation, who fully warrants this spot with some good work against the run and rushing the passer.
Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers: We start buying into Glennon as a feasible quarterback and then the Panthers defense goes along and reminds us all there’s still plenty of work to be done.
Five to Watch
Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys: Close to making the list. Our seventh-ranked center on the year.
Sio Moore, LB, Raiders: Needs to elevate his game if he wants to crack the Top 10.
LaAdrian Waddle, RT, Lions: Only playing time holding him back. Has been a revelation since starting at right tackle.
Dwayne Gratz, CB, Jaguars: Much like Waddle only playing time holding him back. It’s like the Jaguars plan is coming together.
Eric Reid, S, 49ers: Has been solid in recent weeks, but it takes more to get a bigger blurb.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled