Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 9

The race for our coveted prize gets tighter and tighter each passing week, and once again Khaled Elsayed welcomes a new entrant to the Top 10.

| 4 years ago
ROY wk9

Race for Rookie of the Year, Week 9

ROY wk9Could it get much closer at the top? This week was the longest and hardest I’ve had to think on for who to put at the No. 1 spot, with several players making the kind of legitimate cases that have me going backwards and forwards.

As it is, the incumbent Jet Sheldon Richardson remains ahead of the rest, but I can tell you now that a repeat of Week 9 in the next slate of games will ensure that his reign comes to an end in seven days.

That’s because the guys behind him are really starting to find their feet. We’ve got backs making defenders miss, defensive tackles dominating linemen, and some rookie-on-rookie crime from one wide receiver.


1. Sheldon Richardson, DE, Jets: +14.8

Our sixth-ranked 3-4 defensive end on the year graded in the green again, with his work in the run game the chief reason, but the size of those grades aren’t as big as they were earlier in the year. Still, he needs a lot of credit for playing consistently enough that his lowest grade is a -0.2.

2. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers: +13.4

It’s hard to see Lotutlelei ever being the kind of player that gets the credit he deserves. He won’t put up big sack numbers but his work in the run game can’t be understated. Against the Falcons that included another three defensive stops.

3. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals: +12.7

At times completely mesmerizing, he was the chief architect of the Miami Dolphins going missed tackle mad on Thursday Night Football. His touchdown was the obvious highlight, but he hit the hole with some authority and looks set, health permitting, for an increased role that will only help his chances of reeling in the top two.

4. Marcus Cooper, CB, Chiefs: +10.5

The biggest surprise of the year. Cooper has got beaten for a couple of big plays, but with two picks, eight pass break-ups and a crucial forced fumble this week he’s also made his share of them. Gone past the stage now where I can hold his snap count against him, though I’m eager to see how he does against better opposition.

5. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Bills: +5.9

He’s not the complete package, but at the same time he’s already one of the top coverage linebackers in the league. Given how hard it is to adjust from college to the pros that’s a testament to the natural talent of the Bill.

6. Larry Warford, RG, Lions: +7.7

Slips down the rankings by virtue of not playing. You snooze you lose after all. A bounce-back performance next week with some big run blocking will help his chances no end.

7. Keenan Allen, WR, Chargers: +7.8

Even with one of the ugliest drops you’ll see all year Allen was still a beast as he worked over David Amerson. Ended his big day with 128 yards and a touchdown and is up to 11th in our pure receiver rankings.

8. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers: +7.7

A losing efforts perhaps but another strong showing from Lacy against the Bears. Nine broken tackles is good work regardless of who you are. If the injury to Aaron Rodgers proves serious we could see an even bigger workload for him.

9. Tyrann Mathieu, DB, Cardinals: +7.2

The dynamic Honey Badger got some time to rest up, but when you play two roles as he does you’re never far from the ball and as such will get his chance to reclaim what was his soon enough.

10. Eric Reid, S, 49ers: +5.4

One of three rookies on a bye week this round of games that as a result saw others move past him. No big deal Eric, just go out there next week, make some plays and watch yourself rise back up the rankings.


Dropping Out

D.J. Fluker, RT, Chargers: He didn’t play badly this week, but somebody had to make room for his teammate Allen and he was the man.


Five to Watch

Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys: That was the best Frederick has looked. Not only did he earn a positive grade in the run game but he was even better in pass protection.

Jordan Reed, TE, Redskins: The more he makes plays the harder it becomes to not find a spot for him in the Top 10.

Desmond Trufant, CB, Falcons: In a really bad year for Atlanta Trufant has been perhaps the biggest bright spot.

Zac Stacy, RB, Rams: It won’t be long before he cracks the main list. Just needs to increase the sample size to get there.

Andre Ellington, RB, Cardinals: Returns from a bye week and it could be his role that determines whether he can get ahead of others.


Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • Lord Mad

    Not even an honorable mention for Aaron Dobson? For shame.

    • whiteladder

      This is based on the entire season, not just last week. Dobson likely has a long ways to go before he makes this list, given how terrible he was early on.

      • Lord Mad

        His season has been mostly good too and he has improved greatly. Some struggles, as come typical to a rookie, early on. I never implied that I thought this was ONLY for the week either.

        • Kevin

          This week or the season I’m still confused as to why you mentioned him. I’ve only seen a few games this year and have seen Dobson drop at least 5 balls and not even put up that great of numbers.

          Sunday he put up big numbers but also had two drops. That isn’t how you’re going to get mentioned on PFF.

  • roguepatriot

    Using Football Reference’s search engine, I discovered that Bill Belichick is a staggering 1/14 on DBs drafted in rounds 1-3 since 2000. The only hit was McCourty in 2010. No, Ellis Hobbs and Eugene Wilson don’t qualify as hits. Considering he drafted 3 Rutgers defenders last April, all of whom are replacement level players, and passed on Cooper, it makes me sick.

    • Lord Mad

      That is a very narrow and specific qualifier that doesn’t mean anything. Not to mention that a DBs success is guaranteed by being in the league at least the average amount of years and still producing.