Top 10 Rookie of the Year candidates entering Week 8

Jaguars' running back T.J. Yeldon sits at No. 4 after a big Week 7 performance. See who else made the list.

| 12 months ago
T.J. Yeldon

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Top 10 Rookie of the Year candidates entering Week 8

There are two schools of thought when considering the top NFL rookies entering Week 8. One is that the opposition’s coaches are learning more about them, and are eager to expose their weaknesses. The other is that, with six or seven games of NFL action under their belt, they’re starting to get acclimatized to life in the pros.

The truth is, for some it will be the former, and others the latter. So, the real question is, which players are rising in our race for Rookie of the Year, and which ones are finding the pace a little too hot to handle?

Let’s find out.

1. Ronald Darby, CB, Bills (90.6)

Remaining at the front, Darby flew across the Atlantic and brought his brilliance to Britain, with another excellent effort. It shouldn’t be this easy for college corners to adjust to the NFL.

2. Leonard Williams, DE, Jets (84.8)

Not as impactful against the Patriots as he had been previously, but Williams still managed to add three more quarterback disruptions to give him 26 on the year.

3. Henry Anderson, DE, Colts (84.2)

Anderson had some problems with the Saints’ run blocking. However, he again showed that he will contribute as a pass rusher, with two hits and one more hurry.

4. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars (81.7)

Yeldon is quickly becoming the face of the Jaguars’ offense, with his ability to turn a little room into something far more. He had his best rushing performance to date this past week.

5. Adrian Amos, S, Bears (81.6)

Amos dropped down on the list, though through no fault of his own. Amos was on a bye this week, and that allowed Yeldon to leapfrog him.

6. Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins (80.2)

Crowder caught a fantastic 80 percent of balls thrown his way, and really added a spark to the Redskins’ offense.

7. Amari Cooper, WR, Raiders (79.8)

Speaking of adding a spark: Cooper hasn’t had the most even start to the year, but his destruction of San Diego felt like a real breakout performance. He has the potential to jump a lot of people on this list if he can continue to play like he did against the Chargers.

8. Damarious Randall, CB, Packers (79.5)

Like Amos, Randall had to sit by and watch others in his bye week.

9. Todd Gurley, RB, Rams (78.0)

Volume. That’s the only reason Gurley isn’t higher, but if he stays healthy, it won’t be long before he’s challenging the top five.

10. Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers (61.4)

Two horrible performances scar the NFL start of Winston, but what’s remarkable is how good he has been outside of that, and how little it’s gone noticed. He’s oozing star potential.


Dropping out

Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs: Peters wasn’t on top of his game this week, allowing 125 yards into his coverage.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Eagles: Hicks was a victim of the Panthers’ strong offensive line, with his worst effort in the pros.

Mitch Morse, C, Chiefs: It’s his slightly below-average pass protection that knocks him off the top 10 for the first time this year.

Preston Smith, OLB, Redskins: Smith received more playing time this week—and promptly had some struggles against the run.


Five to watch

Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings: The Vikings’ exciting playmaker has delivered the goods the past two weeks, but can he keep it up?

Rob Havenstein, RT, Rams: Second flawless game in pass protection this week highlights how the Rams right tackle is coming along.

Tre Jackson, G, Patriots: After a tough start, Jackson has now graded positively in four straight games.

Vic Beasley, DE, Falcons: Beasley has been quiet the past few weeks, but the defensive end might enjoy his matchup with the Buccaneers’ tackles more than he enjoyed facing off with Taylor Lewan.

Markus Golden, OLB, Cardinals: Golden isn’t as explosive as Shane Ray, but is arguably a more well-rounded player.

DK Deal

  • Clint

    Kikaha should be on this list! He is a big reason the Saints are turning their season around.

  • Andrew

    Eric Kendricks hello?

  • MD_in_MD

    Yeah, I TOLD YOU that Amari Cooper needed to be moved WAY up from your stupid “Five To Watch” list a week or 2 ago. This guy is guaranteed to win the OROY award…..hands down…’s gonna happen. Period.

    • crashby89

      Guaranteed hands down? Not with the way Gurley is playing. In fact I would say Gurley is the favorite right now.

      • Tito Puente

        Gurley looks great, but this has to be a seriously winding curve if it says there’s six rookies that’ve been better than Amari Cooper — I would’ve hated to have PFF grading my papers way back when.

        Amari: Only the second rookie in the history of the NFL with three 100-yard receiving games among his first six starts, the only other man to do that was iron Mike Ditka — way back in 1961.

        Amari: Just the third receiver in the history of the NFL to record over 500 yards receiving through his first six games, joining Anquan Boldin, and Randy Moss.

        Straight cash homie.

        • crashby89

          They dont separate defense from offense the way the actual award does. Also have to keep in mind that they go by grades that the NFL does not look at, they look mainly at stats. That takes Crowder out and the offensive ranking is Yeldon, Cooper, Gurley per their grades.

          Yeldon has been good but is not Gurley or Cooper good. As of now it’s a 2 person race. Gonna have to keep an eye on Winston though, he is improving and plays QB, that’s a double whammy.

          • Tito Puente

            Thanx, I understand how PFF grades, that’s why i’m here — but there’s only one logical answer….

            Straight cash homie.


          • crashby89

            You’re correct Gurley is straight cash. 10 YPG 6 YPC. I’ll take that all day.

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    • Josh Stewart


  • Scott Kohler

    Hau’oli Kikaha is better than half of these scrubs. Most sacks, forced fumbles and top 5 for tackles for all rookies. Ridiculous.

  • Jaguars28

    Yeldon’s patience and ability to consistently pick up positive yards makes me very excited for the future.

    • Tito Puente

      Man, i wish there was another Jags fan on the planet excited about your future so you guys could give one another a high five!



      • Jaguars28

        What is this supposed to mean, lol.

        I seem overly optimistic at times, but my Sundays are normally spent yelling at the TV, most of the time at Gus Bradley.

        • Mike Robitaille


        • Cant FixStupid

          That was just another ignorant ass comment from some idiot troll. Jags fans definitely have reason to be overly optimistic, especially over that offense. Bortles has definitely made some massive improvements, and will only continue to get better. Yeldon looks like a legit 3 down #1 RB who will put up 1,500-2,000 total yards yearly. Allen Robinson is a baller, and already probably deserves to be considered a top 20-25 WR in the league. Allen Hurns is making a great #2. And hopefully Julius Thomas can start staying healthy, as well as Lee. That offense has potential to be one of the 5 best offenses in the league for years to come. Maybe get some better coaching in there after the season and maybe they can get the defense playing at a top tier going forward. Hopefully they start to find some consistent play on both sides of the ball and finish with 6-7 wins this year. I was picking them, Oakland and Jville to be the most improved teams from last season.

  • Deron

    What about Tyler Lockett?

    • crashby89

      What about him? Not having the same impact as Cooper, Gurley, Yeldon, Winston, or even Diggs

      • Deron

        He at least deserves mention. Not having impact? Two return touchdowns and a consistent target in the passing game. He’s had more impact than Diggs. Diggs has 19 receptions, Lockett 17. Same number of receiving TD’s. Lockett has 3 total, Diggs 1. Diggs has fumbled twice in 20 touches. Lockett once in 62.

        • crashby89

          Consistent target? 2 games with 0 yards and another 2 under 30 says otherwise. And no he has not had close to the impact of Diggs never mind Cooper or Gurley who are miles ahead. Diggs has played in 3 games and Lockett 7. Lockett has averaged 30 YPG Diggs 100. Diggs’ worst game as a WR was better than Lockett’s best game.

          • Deron

            True. So you think his return skills shouldn’t be considered?

          • crashby89

            Yes they should be considered, and he has been a very good returner. I just think that what Diggs has done in only 3 games is more impressive, and that both are still far behind Cooper and Gurley. Still a lot of football left though and my opinions are subject to change.

          • Deron

            Fair enough. I was just surprised he didn’t get any kind of mention. I realize he doesn’t start and wouldn’t receive the same consideration as the ones who are rightfully in the top spots. I think he will have a long and productive career.

  • Catilac7

    No Tyler Lockett ?
    Scored via punt return , KO return , and pass reception , opposing teams are kicking it out of bounds

    • Catilac7

      same number of TD’s as cooper