Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 12

Khaled Elsayed brings you the state of the field as our top rookies approach the final quarter of their campaigns.

| 4 years ago
ROY wk12

Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 12

ROY wk12Each year we get an infusion of new rookie talent, determined to make a name for themselves in the NFL. Some of them aren’t quite ready to make the leap and struggle in the pros, but others? Well, they show exactly why teams invested time, effort, and draft picks on them.

And that is where our Race for Rookie of the Year comes in.

As we’ve done each week, we’re bringing you the Top 10 rookies with some guys to watch as we count down to the day where we announce our Rookie of the Year. Last week it was Sheldon Richardson at the top, but could he hold off the challenge for another week?

1. Sheldon Richardson, DE, Jets: +21.0

Continues to play his part in the Jets’ dominating run defense. Third at his position group with 26 defensive stops against the run and full of energy. More plays rushing the passer would help him cement this spot.

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: +13.0

He’s close to picking off Richardson, that’s how well he’s playing right now. With Aaron Rodgers going down he has upped his game, proving powerful enough to break tackles and make plenty of plays.

3. Larry Warford, RG, Lions: +14.9

Sitting pretty as our second-ranked right guard with a series of strong displays, even if he didn’t have his best outing against the Buccaneers. Allowed just three quarterback hits and nine hurries all year.

4. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Cardinals: +12.8

His off-the-field issues and less than ideal measurable meant he was a third-round pick. His play on the field is already proving him worth more than that. Succeeding in the slot and at safety, he’s been everything and more the Cardinals could have hoped for.

5. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers: +11.5

Wasn’t at his best against Miami and that’s been the story of his season to some degree. After impressive performances where he looks like challenging, he takes a step back (or simply stands still) while others move on.

6. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: +13.6

Drops down the rankings on his bye week, more by virtue of some brilliant performances around him. No longer the most eye-catching rookie back.

7. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: +9.8

You often see receivers take time to adjust to life in the NFL, but Allen is already our eighth-ranked wideout with his receiving grade. Clearly already has the trust of Philip Rivers so what’s stopping him moving up?

8. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Bills: +6.0

Took the league by storm, but has settled down since his early-season exploits. Will look to come back from his bye week recharged and ready to build.

9. Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons: +4.7

It’s been a bad year for Atlanta, but on the plus side Trufant has adapted well to the rigors of the NFL. He picked up three pass deflections against the Saints to give him 12 on the year. Not bad at all.

10. Mike Glennon, QB, Buccaneers: -2.3

The grade isn’t impressive, but after a rocky start Glennon has improved week by week, ensuring that the Bucs have picked up some momentum (and three victories). Given the play of other rookie quarterbacks, that’s worth a lot.


Dropping Out

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: Reed is a victim of circumstance. Dropping out because of a concussion that has halted his rookie year.

Eric Reid, S, 49ers: A solid year and but for his 11 missed tackles would likely have retained his space in the top 10.


Five to Watch

Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys: Our ninth-ranked center on the year had his problems in pass protection versus the Giants, but earned another positive grade in the run game.

Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals: Might find himself stuck on this list if Rashard Mendenhall can play as he did this week. Touches only thing holding him back.

Sio Moore, LB, Raiders: A solid pickup for the Raiders even if he hasn’t generated quite as much pressure as the team might expect.

Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: Looks the part, helping his cause with 7.3 yards per carry against the Bears.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Two big games in a row have him back in contention after a tough five weeks.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • a57se

    What is the best PFF rating for a rookie?

  • Td

    Reid not being in there is an absolute joke. Arguably playing the best ball of any safety in the nfl.

    • Bill

      Give me Patrick Willis/Bowman/The Smiths/Macdonald/Brooks up front and I’ll look like an All Pro DB.
      Just ask Minnesota’s Secondary when Jared Allen and The Williams Wall were dominate.

      • Josh Knepshield

        I remember the vikings consistently being great against the run but mediocre versus the pass.

  • LightsOut85

    What’s keeping Allen from moving up? I’d say consistency. Not that a guy has to get a green receiving grade every game, but it’s definitely been clear sometimes he seems un-coverable for a defense & others he seems “easily” taken away. When he is, Rivers just goes for a combo of Gates + Woodhead + others — & it usually works, so he doesn’t try to force it to Allen as some teams do with their #1.

    I’d be curious if your film-watching noticed what changed in the KC game (as he displayed both these sides in each half – 8rec vs 1). I know in post-game he mentioned he loves to face man (esp. press man), did KC play more zone to take him out 2nd half? (What I never get though is why Ds can’t make at least SOME adjustment mid-half).

    • Defiancy

      Initially when the game started up they (KC) were just doubling Gates. Once Allen started eating him up, they started doubling him also, which is why Woodhead was wide open on so many of those dump passes. Ladarius Green also was left with suspect coverage and made them pay.

      As far as your question about some adjustments mid-half. What adjustments were there to be made? You only have so many DB’s and LB’s on the field, if you’re doubling both Allen and Gates, guys are going to get free. The Chiefs tried to pick their poison by limiting what Gates and Allen could do, but Rivers like most really good NFL QB’s is great at finding the holes, and with guys like Green and Woodhead being hard to cover with your slot/ nickel CB’s and LB’s the Chargers were going to have mismatches no matter what.

      The question simply becomes, do you want Gates and Allen to beat you, or to make Rivers and the rest of the cast beat you? We obviously know what the Chiefs picked.

      • LightsOut85

        Ah, couldn’t discern that with TV coverage.

        Um…you just said what the adjustment was, lol. (If you thought I meant adjustment to AFTER Allen was taken out – I didn’t. I meant adjusting to Allen himself (which they did). Why it took them as long as it did to take him away. That is, you see this often in NFL games. Not only is a guy’s performance reduced in a 2nd half, but he’s down-right eliminated (so, the adjustment was obviously a good one). It’s funny how these professionals can take so long to adjust).

        • Defiancy

          Yeah I totally thought you were asking about why they didn’t make adjustments after they doubled Allen! LOL.

          I’d say the reason behind the slow adjustments is this. With a guy like Allen who is a rookie (a VERY good one) teams are generally going to start out as the Chiefs did with single coverage. If only because rookies tend to be very volatile and inconsistent and because teams often think that they can take away whatever a young player is doing to be successful up until that point.

          Once Allen started catching balls they generally are going to give the CB covering him the benefit of the doubt (Especially because it was KC’s best CB Smith) that the catches made were simply there in spite of the coverage (all CB’s get burned even the Shermans/Revis’s of the game). They also might start giving him safety help over top so the CB can play a little looser and take more risks. Once all of this fails it’s time to make an adjustment and either rotate in a different CB or double team them.

          I’m not sure if this answers your question specifically because I can’t know exactly why the Chiefs in particular only made an adjustment after the half but it’s usually a result of the things I talked about. Also keep in mind that DC’s generally don’t make huge adjustments in the middle of a series. Teams also generally play conservative because they don’t want to open up more of the field by double teaming more than one guy, which is exactly what happened once the Chiefs started doubling KA along with Gates. Allen simply forced them to do so because he was destroying them in single coverage…really bad.

          • LightsOut85

            Aaah. That all makes sense. Especially because that “benefit of the doubt” attitude is pretty prevalent in many facets of the league. (Which creates situations where fans say things like “well they’re sticking to [this strategy] / [this player] even when it really seems something/someone else would do better, but they’re the professionals – they must know what they’re doing” . ie: Sometimes it’s a case of a confident professional sticking to their guns (by using a certain strategy or starting a certain player) seemingly only because they think it must be right because it was their idea (& they’re a professional after all).

            edit: haha, the PFF staff actually touches on this pattern in the article about Robert Quinn

  • IronMountain

    Chargers best rookie is Fluker, who has been outstanding at both right and left OT.
    Allen is great, and has been the best rookie WR, but Fluker has anchored the Chargers O line, and outplayed every rookie on your list.

    • LightsOut85

      I’m a Chargers fan but I can admit that’s just not true. Do you have access to the premium stats? He had 2 terrible games in pass-pro at LT. And the OL hasn’t been playing great lately at all (after a surprisingly positive start to the season). Rivers’ quick decision making has been what’s prevented him from getting regularly blasted.

      Allen has PFF’s 6th highest receiving grade (adjustment since when this was written I guess) & FO’s 8th most receiving DYAR (total value — 4th most if you extrapolate for the 1 game he didn’t play) – and only 2 of those above him have higher DVOA (per play-value). Fluker is not performing similarly among OT.

      Once our OL situation settles down I’m sure Fluker will develop into a very god player, but he definitely isn’t out best rookie right now.

  • LightsOut85

    Who does (anyone) think will win the “official” ORotY & DRotY? (which are heavily swayed by being high-profile in the media**). I would say it’s probably Mathieu for defense and actually a toss-up among the offensive players in this top 10 – as the top 2 QBs taken are obviously underachieving. If Glennon really improves he could get it via QB bias…otherwise it might be a RB. My heart wants it to be Keenan Allen though WRs don’t get it often & SD gets little national media attention.

    **Thought I think most people who have any significant NFL vote (the awards, HoF, etc) are old codgers stuck in their ways, I would go so far (in my paranoia) that even if they did use resources such as PFF, they would still vote based on who the laymen has heard of, just not to cause any “controversy”.

    • bobrulz

      DRotY is going to be a fight between Alonso and Richardson, but Alonso will probably win because the media loves stats. Eddie Lacy is starting to run away with ORotY, although that game he just played against the Lions only hurts him.

      • LightsOut85

        I wouldn’t think Richardson is even on the radar (nationally) because he’s not lighting it up rushing the passer nor are the Jets getting a ton of attention (& him then getting time on announcers’ lips).

  • colorado john

    If Eddie Lacy finishes strong he wins NFL rookie of the year. Here’s why: Rodgers goes down, everybody stacking 8 in the box against GB and he is still getting it done. This kid is playing with a chip on his shoulder (2nd round), and appears to be getting stronger as the season goes on. Watch and see against a tough DET run D!

    • Bill

      Lacy looked lights out vs Detroit

  • Bill

    Warford should be ahead of Lacy

  • Nik

    Ummm? Patterson?