Top 10 Rookie of the Year candidates entering Week 6
Even the most optimistic Bills’ supporters didn’t expect Ronald Darby to be leading our race for Rookie of the Year after five weeks of the season. But his back-to-back stellar performances show that the cornerback is no flash in the pan, and a man that has to be taken seriously.
However, it’s very easy for rookies to hit a wall, and we’re getting to that stage of the season were the opposition has more tape—and more time—to expose a player’s flaws. Can Darby hang on to the top spot? If not, who will capitalize on the opportunity to move up?
Here are our top 10 Rookie of the Year Candidates entering Week 6:
1. Ronald Darby, CB, Bills (90.8)
Can he hang on to top spot? It’s certainly possible. Darby earned another positive grade for his efforts against Tennessee that saw him allow just four receptions all game.
2. Leonard Williams, DE, Jets (83.6)
The Jets were on bye in Week 5, so Williams sticks in the No. 2 spot. His biggest challenge in Week 6 may be logging enough snaps to move up.
3. Henry Anderson, DE, Colts (+11.9)
Five games for Anderson, each of them above +1.0; there’s no denying he’s been a tremendous value pick for the Colts, with his consistently excellent work in the run game the high point.
4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Titans (-1.4)
What do you expect out of a rookie quarterback? If you have realistic expectations, you’ll probably settle for a steadying presence and significant upgrade from what was already at the spot. Check and check.
5. Karlos Williams, HB, Bills (+3.8)
Williams drops after being sidelined against the Titans with a concussion. His playing time (injury and LeSean McCoy return-related) could see him plummet in the upcoming weeks.
6. Thomas Rawls, HB, Seahawks (+3.7)
This might be a high point for Rawls, with Marshawn Lynch set to return. However, he’s certainly made a name for himself with an excellent effort against Cincinnati.
7. Mitch Morse, C, Chiefs (+2.2)
Morse drops on this list after allowing four hurries against the Bears. That’s not really acceptable for a center at the NFL level.
8. Jordan Hicks, LB, Eagles (+4.7)
Hicks certainly wasn’t expected to play as big a part as he has for the Eagles so soon, but credit to the third-rounder for not looking out of place. A nifty blitzer who has added 10 defensive stops on the year.
9. Preston Smith, OLB, Redskins (+5.4)
Smith is becoming a bigger part of the Redskins defense, especially in sub packages, where the power he generates on stunts is something to behold. Carving out a nice little niche for himself.
10. Damarious Randall, CB, Packers (+2.1)
Randall might not be an every down player, but he is playing well enough in his limited snaps to crack the top 10. The Jests CB is definitely one to watch, but if Quintin Rollins (+3.4 on 37 snaps) keeps playing, he might struggle to be the best rookie corner on his own team.
Hau’oli Kikaha, LB, Saints: A lot of Kikaha’s good work this season was undone against the Eagles with a lackluster effort.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers: Gordon is in danger of fumbling his way out of contention.
Vic Beasley, DE, Falcons: Beasley is simply getting swallowed up by the better tackles in the league.
Five to Watch
Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins: Crowder is emerging as arguably the Redskins’ go-to playmaker.
Brandon Scherff, G, Redskins: He’s not setting the league on fire, but he is holding up as well as you’d hope from a rookie.
Maxx Williams, TE, Ravens: Playing time has been an issue for Williams thus far, but in a bigger role, he’s doing nothing to dispute that he was the most complete tight end in the 2015 draft class.
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers: The Jameis-coaster is trending upwards this week with an impressive showing against Jacksonville.
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams: His numbers flatter him a little, but highlight-worthy runs show what a force he can be.