Race For Rookie of the Year, Week 14
The nostalgic guy I am that means lots of looking back on what has come before, and one of the things that has really stood out this year are the rookies. Not just the quarterbacks, but the linemen, linebackers and running backs that look set to become fixtures in the NFL for years to come.
It’s made writing this piece challenging at times because of the nature of the competition. I mean, sure No. 1 looks nailed on but what about the rest?
1. Robert Griffin III, QB, WAS (+28.4)
How much easier do you think Redskin fans are sleeping with the news RG3 suffered a sprain of his LCL. That looked a lot worse then it turned out being, but it still has to be a worry with a rejuvenated Browns team to visit this week. In any case, Griffin remains the top rookie out there. A combination of big plays and a lack of mistakes. Yeah, that works.
2. Russell Wilson, QB, SEA (+22.9)
Maybe it was the comedown after a big win or maybe he just didn’t need to play well, in any case we’ve seen better from Wilson. That said Seattle only needed him to throw the ball 13 times so maybe he was resting himself up for the games to come?
3. Andrew Luck, QB, IND (+2.8)
Depending on your perspective, there’s a skill (or luckiness) in saving your best for when it matters the most. After all, if you could just switch it on why wouldn’t you do it all the time? Luck wins games. Can’t deny it. And he has some genuinely impressive moments that excite you for the future. However, there’s so many off target balls that you have to think his charmed existence isn’t going to carry on forever.
4. Casey Hayward, CB, GB (+21.9)
The Detroit game provided another exhibition of how good he can be, matching up with the bigger Tony Scheffler for the most part, and coming off the winner. Quarterbacks have a 30.1 rating when throwing into his coverage. They may want to make a note of that.
5. Kevin Zeitler, RG, CIN (+16.1)
His game against Dallas ended on a sour note after he allowed a big sack. That took away from some good work in the run game as the right side of Cincinnati continues to be one of (if not the) best in the game.
6. Doug Martin, RB, TB (+12.6)
Looked back to his best against Philadelphia, taking his season totals to 1,234 yards with 868 of those coming after contact. Only 15 guys have a bigger total than that with all of their rushing yards. Second to Adrian Peterson in forced missed tackles from rushes.
7. Matt Kalil, LT, MIN (+13.1)
He does not like playing against Chicago. That’s eight hurries in two games he’s allowed to the Bears in a season where he’s given up 20 quarterback disruptions all year. And so he falls.
8. Bobby Wagner, LB, SEA (+5.4)
Just like that Wagner is back on the main board. His two interception day was the big reason for the inclusion and marked a real return to form. Can he keep it up against better opposition?
9. Lavonte David, LB, TB (+10.2)
That was as well as David has played this year, against Philadelphia, moving himself up to fourth in our 4-3 outside linebacker rankings. After the disappointment of Mason Foster as a rookie, David has delivered and then some on what was expected of him.
10.Alfred Morris, RB, WAS (+8.9)
The incredible thing about the sixth-round pick is that at a time when rookies should be slowing down he’s picked up his third straight 100-yard rushing game. He’s good.
Chandler Jones, DE, NE: He returned from injury but looked far from at his best against Houston.
Mitchell Schwartz, RT, CLE: He didn’t do anything wrong but someone had to make room for two fine linebacker performances.
Five To Watch
Cordy Glenn, LT, BUF: He had some problems against the Rams and hasn’t quite matched the heights of his early season form since coming back from injury. Still a fine year.
Trent Richardson, RB, CLE: Two more touchdowns from Richardson, who is the kind of back who always seems to get more than he should.
Mike Martin, DT, TEN: Another player who has struggled recently, but found his form against an overmatched Colts interior.
Harrison Smith, S, MIN: He’s far from perfect, but his introduction to the Vikings’ secondary has improved their coverage unit no end.
Dont’a Hightower, LB, NE: A puzzling year. At times looks like something of a playmaker, at times a bit tentative. Much the former against the Texans.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled