Rookie Recap: AFC West
The Denver Broncos ran away with the division this season, but it had much more to do with quarterback Peyton Manning’s arrival than any contributions from their rookie class. The Kansas City Chiefs got contributions from a number of rookies, but, much like the team’s entire 2012 season, the results weren’t very good. It appears the San Diego Chargers have found some defensive pieces on which to build, while the Oakland Raiders didn’t have a draft pick until the third round and it showed in their class’s output.
Let’s take a look at this year’s rookie class from the AFC West.
Derek Wolfe, DE
Draft: Second round, 36th overall
Snaps/Usage: 933 snaps, 480 at defensive end on a three-man line
Notes: Despite Wolfe’s six sacks, he graded at -24.5 as a pass rusher as he totaled only 25 total pressures on 530 pass rush attempts. Similar to Cameron Jordan with the New Orleans Saints, Wolfe may be miscast as a 4-3 defensive end as his pass rushing is sub-par compared to his peers, but he is effective against the run. He graded at +10.3 as a run stopper and ranked 14th at the position in Run Stop Percentage at 6.2.
Ronnie Hillman, RB
Draft: Third round, 67th overall
Snaps/Usage: 211 snaps as part of running back rotation
Notes: Hillman’s playing time varied throughout the season and he finished with 330 rushing yards on 85 carries (3.9 yards per carry). Though he was touted as an elusive running back coming out of San Diego State, he did not make a lot of defenders miss, as his 15.6 Elusive Rating would have ranked near the very bottom of the league if he had enough touches to qualify.
Other Broncos rookies:
The Broncos were thrilled that second-round quarterback Brock Osweiler saw the field for only 34 snaps, as it meant that Manning stayed healthy for the entire season. All four of his attempts came in Week 17 — he completed two of them for 12 yards. Fourth-round cornerback Omar Bolden played 39 of his 81 snaps in Week 16 and finished with a -1.9 coverage grade. Fifth-round DE Malik Jackson rushed the passer on 76 of his 120 snaps with three pressures and a -0.6 pass rush grade to show for it. Linebacker Danny Trevathan was used primarily in coverage, as the seventh-rounder dropped back on 147 of his 243 snaps. He allowed 17 of his 25 targets to be completed for 178 yards while adding two defensed passes. Though he played only six snaps on defense (all in Week 17), undrafted linebacker Steven Johnson tied for the team lead with nine special teams tackles.
Kansas City Chiefs
Dontari Poe, DT
Draft: First round, 11th overall
Snaps/Usage: 757 snaps, 429 at nose tackle in a three-man line
Notes: Poe started at nose tackle from Day 1, though he’s clearly a work in progress as the Chiefs’ zero-technique. He showed that he could make plays against the run, as he ranked third in Run Stop Percentage among defensive tackles (8.4), however, his -4.0 grade in run defense shows that he is still pushed around too often. Poe was also ineffective as a pass rusher as he picked up only 12 pressures on his 403 rush attempts, good for a pass rush grade of -6.8.
Jeff Allen, G
Draft: Second round, 44th overall
Snaps/Usage: 12 starts at left guard and one start at left tackle
Notes: Allen was thrust into the lineup at left guard in Week 3 due to an injury to center Rodney Hudson that caused some offensive line shuffling. Though Kansas City had one of the better offensive lines in the league, Allen was the weak link — his -19.1 grade ranked second-to-last among 54 qualifying guards and his Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) of 95.7 ranked 55th out of 72.
Donald Stephenson, T
Draft: Third round, 74th overall
Snaps/Usage: 380 snaps, 323 at left tackle
Notes: Stephenson saw his first extended action in Week 11 when he got the start at right tackle before taking over at left tackle for the majority of the remainder of the season. He graded at -6.5 overall, including -7.2 as a pass blocker, and gave up 21 pressures on just 180 pass blocks for a PBE of 89.9 that ranked near the very bottom of the league.
Other Chiefs rookies:
Though projected as a slot receiver, fourth-rounder Devon Wylie played 67 of his 80 snaps on the outside. He caught six passes for 53 yards (8.8 yards per reception). Sixth-round running back Cyrus Gray played only 31 snaps that saw him pick up 44 yards on his seven carries (6.3 yards per carry). Undrafted free agent fullback Nate Eachus saw the field for 142 snaps and his season highlight was posting a +2.9 run block grade that helped spring RB Jamal Charles for 233 rushing yards in Week 3. Safety Tysyn Hartman saw the majority of his 243 snaps in the last five games of the season. He got his hands on two of the seven passes thrown into his coverage, good for a +1.0 coverage grade. Fellow undrafted free agent CB Neiko Thorpe missed one of his three tackle attempts on his 30 snaps.
Go to Page 2 for the Raiders and Chargers…
Miles Burris, LB
Draft: Fourth round, 129th overall
Snaps/Usage: 894 snaps, played in all 16 games including 15 starts
Notes: Burris graded at -15.6 overall, largely due to his penchant for missing tackles. He finished with 20 misses on his 90 attempts for a Tackling Efficiency of 5.5, second-worst among all 4-3 outside linebackers. His 10 missed tackles in the run game were the second-most at the position, while his nine misses in the passing game ranked third.
Rod Streater, WR
Draft: Undrafted free agent
Snaps/Usage: 596 snaps, played in all 16 games with two starts
Notes: Streater turned heads in training camp and earned the start in Week 1. He was able to make a few plays down the field, he averaged 15 yards on his 39 receptions, but he had some problems catching the ball. He dropped seven of the 46 on-target throws for a Drop Rate of 15.22% — fifth-highest among wide receivers.
Other Raiders rookies:
With no picks in either of the first two rounds, third-round offensive tackle Tony Bergstrom represented their top selection of the draft. He played only 113 snaps, including 44 at right guard and 41 as an extra tight end. He allowed three pressures on his 47 pass blocks for a pass rush grade of -1.3. Fifth-round wide receiver Juron Criner caught 16 balls for 151 yards (9.4 yards per reception) including an average of 4.9 yards after catch. Fellow fifth-rounder, Jack Crawford, played 45 of his 50 snaps at defensive end on a four-man line and picked up three run stops on his 30 snaps against the run. Sixth-round defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi played the majority of his 250 snaps in the second half of the season and graded at -3.2 overall. Undrafted free agent guard Lucas Nix played all 27 of his snaps in Week 17. He didn’t give up a pressure on his 17 pass block attempts. RB Jeremy Stewart played 67 snaps and caught all eight passes thrown his way for 62 yards (7.8 yards per reception). FB Jamize Olawale played 14 snaps that saw him grade at -0.5 as a run blocker.
San Diego Chargers
Melvin Ingram, OLB
Draft: First round, 18th overall
Snaps/Usage: 475 snaps, 281 rushing the passer
Notes: Despite his first-round status, Ingram was eased into the mix at outside linebacker with Shaun Phillips and Jarret Johnson already entrenched as starters. He spent most of his time rushing the passer where he graded at +1.4 after picking up 33 pressures on his 281 rushes, good for a Pass Rush Productivity of 9.7. That mark ranked eighth among 32 qualifiers at 3-4 outside linebacker, so look for an increased role for Ingram in 2013.
Kendall Reyes, DE
Draft: Second round, 49th overall
Snaps/Usage: 547 snaps, 315 at left end on a three-man line
Notes: Reyes was a one-dimensional player in his first season. He showed well as a pass rusher with a +3.8 grade and a PRP of 8.1 that ranked fourth among 3-4 defensive ends, but against the run he graded at -2.5 and came in last among the top 34 at the position with a Run Stop Percentage of 3.3.
Michael Harris, LT
Draft: Undrafted free agent
Snaps/Usage: 12 total games including eight complete starts at left tackle
Notes: It’s rare to see an undrafted rookie free agent getting the starting nod at a perceived premium position such as left tackle, but that’s where Harris found himself to kick off 2012. He was clearly overwhelmed, as he graded at -43.4 overall including -31.4 as a pass blocker. His PBE of 86.8 was last in the league among offensive tackles.
Other Chargers rookies: Third-round safety Brandon Taylor didn’t see a defensive snaps until Week 13 and was on the field for only 40 on the season. He graded at +1.2 as a run defender in his limited time, picking up three stops. Fourth-round tight end Ladarius Green was used on pass routes on 33 of his 39 snaps and caught all four of his targets for 56 yards (14 yards per reception). Seventh-round center David Molk played 10 of his 15 snaps as an extra tight end and graded at -1.0 as a run blocker.
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