Top 10 Rookie of the Year candidates entering Week 5
The Pro Football Focus race for Rookie of the Year returns, after a massive slate of Week 4 action. Last week, the Bills’ Ronald Darby jumped to the top of the leaderboard, but the cornerback position can be a fragile one for a first-year player.
Here are our top 10 rookies entering Week 5 of the NFL season:
1. Ronald Darby, CB, Bills (+7.3)
Darby is simply getting better and better, with his effort against Eli Manning and the Giants his best performance yet. The second-round pick wasn’t expected to contribute this much, this soon. But he is, so credit goes to our list leader after four weeks.
2. Leonard Williams, DE, Jets (+10.7)
Williams rocketed up the list with the best performance of any rookie all year in Week 4. The Jets’ DE showed how destructive he can be against the pass, with a phenomenal five hits and four hurries against the Dolphins in London.
3. Henry Anderson, DE, Colts (+9.4)
Anderson is already a big part of the Colts’ defense, and has seen his grade grow week after week. His effort against Jacksonville was his best yet, as he put together a strong effort rushing the passer (five hurries), and an even stronger performance against the run.
4. Mitch Morse, C, Chiefs (+3.6)
Offensive lines around the league are struggling, as they tend to in the early weeks of a year, but Morse has hit the ground running. The Chiefs’ second-round pick is a natural at the center spot, even if he did get beat for a couple sacks this past week.
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans (-1.0)
Mariota enjoyed a bye in Week 4, and held onto a top 5 spot. Will be looking to jump back up the rankings when he takes to the field this week.
6. Hau’oli Kikaha, LB, Saints (+5.1)
Ignore the sacks, his pass rushing hasn’t really taken our breath away. But the relentless Kikaha is turning into a force in the run game—no 4-3 outside linebacker has a better grade in this regard.
7. Karlos Williams, RB, Bills (+2.9)
It looks like a concussion might slow him down, but Williams has really made things happen when he’s been on the field. It’s a shame his momentum is about to take hit.
8. Jordan Hicks, LB, Eagles (+2.4)
Hicks has done a nice job filling in for the Eagles’ plethora of injured players at the inside linebacker position. The former Texas Longhorn definitely has a knack for flying to the ball.
9. Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers (+2.4)
Is churning away the yards without ever getting that big, game breaking carry that might open the floodgates. Leads the rookies in forcing 12 missed tackles.
10. Vic Beasley, DE, Falcons (-0.5)
Beasley made this list because of the strength of his pass rushing (+2.7). While the Falcons schedule has been relatively easy, he’s had to deal with Jason Peters, Tyron Smith, and Duane Brown. That’s a baptism of a fire for a rookie, and it won’t get any easier with Trent Williams this week.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: Winston had one of his worst outings of the year against the Panthers. How rough? Rough enough to drop from top 5 on this list to completely out of the top 10.
Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs: The Chiefs’ corner has been a little boom or bust, and against the Bengals, he was most definitely not boom.
Shaq Thompson, LB, Panthers: After three encouraging efforts, Thompson had a really off day, missing more tackles than he made.
Five To Watch
Maxx Williams, TE, Ravens: Williams has impressed with limited playing time. If he can stay on the field, he’ll have a shot at cracking the top 10.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars: Yeldon leads rookies in total yards, but he’s not making as much out of his opportunities as the two other rookie runners who made the list.
Adrian Amos, S, Bears: Never far from making the top 10, Amos has quietly gone about his business. His play has been solid, if somewhat unspectacular.
Carl Davis, DE, Ravens: After back-to-back bad weeks, Davis responded with a nice effort on his 35 snaps against Pittsburgh.
Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders: Cooper is certainly not being shorted on opportunities, but has at times struggled with the upgrade to the pros.