Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 15
Fifteen down, two to go.
Weeks, that is, when it comes to the regular season… which means there’s now only two games before we decide on our Rookie of the Year. How quickly time flies.
This has so far been a race dominated by one man: Sheldon Richardson. But is he doing enough on every down to hold off the challenge of playmakers like Keenan Allen and Eddie Lacey as well as those doing less visible jobs like Larry Warford and Star Lotulelei. Let’s check in with our Week 15 updated, Race for Rookie of the Year.
On the Lead Lap…
1. Sheldon Richardson, DE, Jets: +30.1
It’s close at the top. Richardson earned another positive grade and picked up a seasons best three hurries, but there’s still that nagging doubt regarding his pass rushing. Still, his run defense is so good he is in pole position.
2. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: +15.4
The Chargers’ run-heavy gameplan limited his chances but he did continue his trend of games in the green thanks to his two touchdown grabs. The most impressive skill position player so far.
3. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: +16.0
The Packers’ workhorse back has come good when they’ve needed him the most and is now over 1,000 yards for the season. Has provided a real spark to the team.
4. Larry Warford, RG, Lions: +18.5
Remains fourth in our right guard rankings but had some problems in the run game with Haloti Ngata using the national television audience to show he’s still got it. His lowest grade of the year but that also serves to show how good he’s been the rest of the season.
5. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: +15.9
Bottled up somewhat by the Steelers but the encouraging thing is that the team is committing more and more to him. Liable to break loose at any moment.
6. Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons: +8.6
The biggest positive from the most negative of years for the Falcons. Has upgraded the secondary and shown a knack for making plays on the ball.
7. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Cardinals: +15.5
A real shame that this genuine Pro Bowl contender picked up such a serious injury. Was having a fine year that warranted more press than it was getting.
8. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers: +13.6
Has been a huge part of the Panthers renaissance, fixing what was once a problem area. Was better this week after a tough outing in the Super Dome.
9. Kiko Alonso, LB, Bills: +6.5
Fallen down the tackling charts and making less highlight reel plays. At the same time, though, has rarely let the Bills down and it’s important to remember he’s a rookie who has seamlessly assumed an every-down role. That rarely happens.
10. Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: +13.9
Part two of the Panthers reworking of their defensive tackle spot. Arguably more visible than Lotuleli though is so from a situational and backup role. Expect a bigger role from him in the coming years.
Five to Watch
LaAdrian Waddle, RT, Lions: Has outplayed some more sought after rookies, but needs to do a little more to make the Top 10.
Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys: I feel a little guilty leaving him off the list. Things aren’t great in Dallas at the moment but they did nail this draft pick.
Zac Stacy, HB, Rams: Steven who? Stacy looks like the Rams’ long-term feature back, already up to 857 yards despite missing plenty of time this year. Spearhead of a new-look offense.
Adrian Ellington, RB, Cardinals: Whether running the ball or catching it out of the backfield, this guy just makes plays.
Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles: Is getting more playing time which is really the only thing holding him back. Looks like he could turn into quite the weapon.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled