Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 2
Two weeks of action under their belts means two weeks of time for the rookies to impress. Impress who? Well for the purposes of this article it’s me, as I’m offering some insight into who I think are the top performing rookies in the league in my Race for Rookie of the Year.
That’s right it’s back, and every two weeks I will update to see who is checking in at No. 1 and which guys he is fighting off. So let’s take a glance at the guys who have impressed the most so far.
1. Sammy Watkins, WR, BUF (+3.1)
It’s early stages and I’m influenced more by his Week 2 117-yard day than his efforts in the opener, but Watkins has that kind of explosive ability that catches the eye and changes the game.
2. Aaron Donald, DT, SL (+5.9)
The biggest obstacle for Donald may be his playing time, with the Rams’ defensive tackle rotation limiting him to 56 snaps through two games. That’s enough time to lead the league in tackles for a loss and have the highest grade of any defensive tackle against the run.
3. Ja’Wuan James, RT, MIA (+4.1)
A lot viewed James as a project, with the impression being he’d take some time to adjust to the NFL. Well it’s so far so good after a particularly strong effort against Buffalo.
4. Khalil Mack, LB, OAK (+4.6)
A tentative debut followed by a justification of why you’d spend a fifth overall pick on a linebacker. Mack hasn’t delivered the kind of pressure you might want to see but it’s showing signs of coming.
5. Bene Benwikere, CB, CAR (+3.9)
This fifth-rounder isn’t a household name but we will be if he manages the maintain his slot effectiveness for the Panthers. Through two games he’s allowed 4-of-9 for 37 yards with one pass break-up.
6. Jason Verrett, CB, SD (+3.4)
Was extremely impressive against the Cardinals but his play slipped off in allowing all four balls into his coverage to be completed against the Seahawks.
7. Joel Bitonio, LG, CLE (+2.8)
The Browns intended to move one step closer to building the league’s best offensive line when they drafted Bitonio. So far there’s nothing to suggest they’ve erred in that regard.
8. Anthony Barr, LB, MIN (+2.4)
Hasn’t delivered as a pass rusher but his work against the run and ability to not look out of place on every down means he’s already contributing positively.
9. Calvin Pryor, S, NYJ (+2.6)
Might look a little rough around the edges but has looked particularly good coming up to support against the run. You feel there’s plays to be had both ways against him (good and bad).
10. Justin Britt, RT, SEA (+1.6)
A weakness in their run to the Super Bowl, the Seahawks have quietly upgraded at right tackle and Britt is the reason why. Will need, however, to play better than he did on Sunday if he’s to move up.
Five To Watch
Brandin Cooks, WR, NO: A tough Week 2 outing knocked him off the Top 10.
Allen Hurns, WR, JAX: See above.
Jack Mewhort, G, IND: A little more push in the running game and he’d be up ahead of Bitonio.
C.J. Mosley, LB, BAL: Struggles in coverage need to be corrected to get a number in front of his name.
Jeremy Hill, HB, CIN: A victim of playing time, but he’s looked like a great fit in Cincinnati so far.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled