Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 2
Two weeks into the season and the Race for the Rookie of the Year is starting to take a little bit more shape. Granted, it’s still the very early stages, but the more tape we get on these guys the more it becomes clear just which from the 2013 draft class are making an immediate impact.
Last week it was Robert Alford leading the way but as is often the case things can, and have, changed very quickly.
1. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers: +7.6
He suffered something of a fall on draft day and he’s wasting no time making a bunch of teams regret it. Our third-ranked defensive tackle on the year is an immovable object against the run and is already someone you have to account for when he’s on the field.
2. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans: +5.1
He’s still No. 2 to the ever-excellent Andre Johnson but his 2.08 Yards Per Route Run are 22nd of all wide receivers, and it’s the nature of those yards that’s most impressive. Impact player already.
3. Larry Warford, RG, Lions: +3.9
There are more hyped guards out there, but none has stood out like Warford. The third-round pick is yet to give up anything in pass protection and has earned himself a positive grade in the run game. Looks like a big get for the Lions.
4. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Jets: +2.9
Already has six defensive stops against the run on his 42 snaps in run defense. That’s a big impression to make, but to move up he’ll need to improve on the three combined quarterback disruptions he’s managed so far.
5. John Jenkins, DT, Saints: +2.7
A good start from Jenkins who made the temporary loss of Brodrick Bunkley something of a non-story. Strong against the run and with four hurries already, he could be a big component in the Saints’ resurgent defense.
6. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions: +2.4
Might not be starting but don’t think he isn’t getting a lot of playing time as the 80 snaps he’s managed so far would say. Has seven quarterback disruptions so far and an even better grade with his run defense. Nice.
7. Tyler Eifert, TE, Bengals: +2.1
He’s coming along nicely. When you get him blocking in space that issue of his game isn’t apparent, and he’s already 12th of all tight ends in receiving yards. His 2.46 Yards Per Route Run are fourth-most of any tight end.
8. David Bakhtiari, LT, Packers: +2.1
Had some bad moments against Aldon Smith but rebounded very nicely (even with the penalty) against the Redskins. Just one hurry allowed and some strong work in the run game. Upstaging those selected ahead of him.
9. Tyrann Mathieu, CB, Cardinals: +2.3
The ‘Honey Badger’ made one of the plays of Week 1 but put forth a more rounded performance a week later. After much speculation, has found his role as a slot cornerback.
10. E.J. Manuel, QB, Bills: -1.8
Made the game winning play when it really counted but let’s not forget what happened before that. Will be better the more he plays and plenty to be encouraged by so far.
Robert Alford, Falcons: Found life a lot harder going against the Rams (four receptions allowed for 48 yards and a touchdown) than the Saints.
Jordan Mills, Bears: Got worked over a little by Brian Robison. A remarkably similar sight for Bears fans over the past few years.
Lane Johnson, Eagles: Flagged for two penalties as well as getting beat for two hits and two hurries. Not great.
David Amerson, Redskins: Went horribly wrong for him as Jordy Nelson and James Jones bested him. A really rough afternoon that earned him the lowest grade of all cornerbacks this week.
Five to Watch
Joplo Bartu, Falcons: Has taken advantage of injuries to earn 63 snaps for the Falcons, working well around the line of scrimmage.
Barkevious Mingo, Browns: Looked good in his debut, but with only 25 snaps needs to get more playing time to be considered.
T.J. McDonald, Rams: Has made the decision to let Quintin Mikell go look a shrewd one.
Tavon Austin, Rams: Made some plays against the Falcons but needs to do a better job holding onto the ball (three drops).
Robert Woods, Bills: Just eight targets so far but with two forced missed tackles he’s made the most of them.
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