Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 6
We’re racing through the weeks now and after the usual week hiatus, so does return our Race for Rookie of the Year.
Last time around it was Khalil Mack who led the way with his strong work in the run game helping him to stand out above all other rookies. But in the two weeks that have followed has the gap to him been closed? Has he been overtaken?
Let’s find out.
1. Joel Bitonio, LG, CLE: +10.3
One of the reasons the Browns have turned into a competent offense overnight despite losing their star skill player? How quickly Bitonio has not just adjusted to the NFL game, but excelled at it. His work in the run game has propelled him to the third-highest grade of any guard.
2. Khalil Mack, OLB, OAK: +14.2
Sackless and struggling? Not quite. Mack has got enough pressure to earn a positive pass rushing grade and really excelled against the run. His +10.7 mark in that regard is best of all 3-4 outside linebackers, impressive when that group contains Terrell Suggs and Justin Houston.
3. Aaron Donald, DT, SL: +11.6
Something changed this week for Donald who went from playing a third of the snaps per game to over three quarters. The team realizes they’re onto something and seem prepare to let him loose. Our fourth ranked defensive tackle on the year.
4. C.J. Mosley, ILB, BAL: +6.7
One of a trio of former Alabama defenders sitting in the Top 5 of our inside linebacker rankings. Mosley has already proved an active force against the run, where his +7.5 grade sits atop the position.
5. Jason Verrett, CB, SD: +7.7
Playing time was initially his biggest obstacle but he’s overcome that and backed it up with a series of strong performances. Allowing just 44% of balls thrown into his coverage to be complete.
6. Zack Martin, RG, DAL: +4.8
Was something of a quiet start for Martin who was getting beat a little too often in the game for our liking. Has, however, ironed out these creases in his game and put in three very impressive displays as a key component in a recharged Cowboys team.
7. Corey Linsley, C, GB: +3.8
Would it be better if he was a bit stouter in pass protection? Yes. Is it eye-catching his work in the run game? Also yes. The fifth-rounder looks at home in the NFL, with what was a concern for Green Bay now being a reason to cheer.
8. Anthony Barr, LB, MIN: +3.5
You’d probably like some more explosive plays out of Barr, but given how he’s been used it’s commendable that he’s kept his head above water in a new position to him.
9. Aaron Lynch, OLB, SF: +6.1
Hard to ignore. Lynch isn’t starting but his playing time is increasing and his 13 quarterback disruptions aren’t to be sniffed at.
10. Branden Oliver, RB, SD: +2.8
The Chargers may have found something with Oliver. The undrafted free agent can turn open space into big yards and push the pile enough when required. Really taken advantage of a depleted backfield, but how will he fare as others at his spot return?
Kyle Fuller, CB, CHI: Better against Atlanta but too hot and cold at this stage.
Ja’Wuan James, RT, MIA: Was in contention until some pass protection issues this week pushed him out of it.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, CAR: A better fantasy player than real player at this point. Highs and lows.
Jack Mewhort, LG, IND: Missing time is always going to count against you, especially on the line.
Five to Watch
E.J. Gaines, CB, SL: Allowing 52% of balls into his coverage to be completed in an impressive start to life in St Louis.
T.J. Carrie, CB, OAK: Teams haven’t really gone after him yet, but when they have they haven’t got too much joy.
Jace Amaro, TE, NYJ: Is becoming a bigger part of what the Jets do.
Justin Britt, RT, SEA: Close to cracking the Top 10, with only really his poor showing against Denver keeping him out.
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, MIN: Needs to play more like he did Atlanta than he did against Detroit. Would probably appreciate more help from his pass catchers and line as well.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled