Rookies Watch Mid-Season Review
Welcome into the Mid-Season Rookies Watch!
We are at the half way point of the NFL regular season, unsurprisingly The Patriots are unbeaten and we have two winless teams in the Bengals and Dolphins.
There has already been many surprises to pop up each week and I’m sure we will continue to see many more as the season continues. The main talking points remaining, how long will 49ers remaining unbeaten? Will Bengals and Dolphins pick up a win before the #1 pick showdown between them in week 16? To name a few.
As we are the midway point of the season what better way to review the current rookies with my Top 10 countdown.
Special Mention Rookies (Offensive Linemen)
Offensive lineman rarely gets the praise they deserve in the NFL but are always the first to be blamed. The 2019 rookie linemen have shined on multiple occasions and many have taken starting jobs early into their career. Below are the top standouts and unfortunate not to be included in the top 10. Linemen will get love someday.
Erik McCoy – Centre – New Orleans Saints
The drafting of McCoy was all the more important for Saints after Max Unger’s sudden retirement. McCoy has shined in the dominating Offensive line and is already becoming one of the top young centres in the league. McCoy is a rising star and has the potential to be a Pro Bowl lineman for years to come.
Justin Skule – Tackle – San Francisco 49ers
Drafted in the sixth round Skule was a relative unknown in many of the media circles, however he has done a fantastic job in relief of Joe Stanley following the All Pro tackles injury. Skule is stating his claim to being Stanley’s long term heir in five solid starts so far in 2019.
Skule is by no means a finished article and has a long way to come before he is ready to take over. But the early exposure to the starting line-up will give him an boost long term and once Stanley is back he will take a back seat and learn from him until Stanley is ready to hang up his boots.
Top 10 Rookies
Preston Williams may not be near anyone’s top 10 in the industry considering he plays on the Dolphins. However in a team lacking much of everything and in the process of a tanking season Williams has continued to shine.
Unsurprisingly the only undrafted player on this list but I have mentioned before Williams would not be undrafted if it were not for off field troubles in college. These appear to be behind him and Williams has taken the steps needed and is already a starting block of the Dolphins Offence.
Williams’s numbers do not jump off the page, 44 targets, 23 receptions, 314 yards and one touchdown. However he leads the Dolphins receiving core in terms of snaps and is only 29 yards behind Devante Parker.
He has one hand on the WR1 job in Miami and expect this to build as the season and his career progresses.
Taken with the seventh overall pick Josh Allen was expected to take a spot in the starting lineup of a dominant 2018 Jaguars defence. So far he has repaid the faith shown in him and cemented a role in the new look defence for 2019. Even with the impressive start Allen has made many believe this is only the beginning and his ceiling is yet to be reached, That is a startling fact to consider.
Through eight weeks Allen has amassed 23 tackles (16 solo), seven tackles for a loss, seven sacks, 13 QB hits and three forced fumbles. Allen is ninth in sacks and is the sack leader among rookies alongside Nick Bosa, Both are on pace to break the sack record set by a rookie.
Allen has recorded a minimum of one sack in the last four games and still have the struggling Titans, Buccaneers and Falcons to play the franchise sack record should be easily in sight for Allen.
Josh Allen has plenty more to give and will continue to show why he was so highly touted coming out of Kentucky. Allen not only puts numbers on the boards but has been consistently disruptive and a menace to almost all the offensive lines he has come up against. The remainder of the NFL should watch out for Allen and the Jaguars defence.
The Giants team as a whole have been poor through much of the 2019 season, one bright spark for them so far is number 17 overall pick Dexter Lawrence out of Clemson. It is not often a 340 pound defensive tackle makes quite the impression he has in the first half of the NFL season.
Eight games into the season Lawrence has 23 tackles (12 solo), two tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks, he has also provided one force fumble and three quarterback hits. Lawrence so far ranks ninth among interior linesmen with a 85.0 run defence grade and has missed only one tackle in his 23 attempts. Very few have been able to stop him and very few running backs have been able to get past him.
With the Giants trading for Leonard Williams from the New York Jets they could now find themselves as one of the top interior lineman duos in the league. The Giants may be lacking in talent in many areas across the field but with Barkley and Jones leading the offensive and the duo of Williams and Lawrence leading the defence they provide significant blocks to restart this struggling franchise.
Most of you will have seen Bush in my week six Rookies watch article and know my reasons behind him being up there in for the DPOY.
In a season where the Steelers are looking for an identify they may have found an old formula with a dominate defence carrying the lukewarm offence through games. Bush has 59 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions and four fumble recoveries one of which went for a touchdown. Bush has become a leader in his short time on the field and is attempting to guide his team in troubled times.
This may turn out to be a long season for Steelers if they are unable to right the ship on offence, but Bush and the Defence will do all they can to keep them competitive. The next few weeks may write the remainder of the season for both Devin Bush Jr and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
No-one including Minshew I suspect saw this in the preseason. Foles was the big money FA to replace Bortles with big expectations on his shoulder. It lasted all of 1 quarter before the injury bug hit and Foles was heading to IR.
Step up Gardner Minshew and his Moustache, it is fair to say he has been a surprising revelation for Jacksonville and has given them a tough decision to make upon Foles return.
Minshew has done everything he can to keep the starting job and many will argue it would be well deserved if he did. His stat lines in eight games read 161/260 for 1976 yards, 13 touchdowns and two interceptions with a 61.9% completion rate. He has also been effective in the run game, it is not necessarily the touchdowns as he is yet to score but he has kept the Jags in multiple games with his feet and in a positive to win.
Foles is eligible to return from IR on November 6th and could feature against Indianapolis on the 17th leaving Marrone a tough choice to make soon.
Expectations were understandably high for Murray coming into the 2019 season. The number one overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals has proved to be a wise choice for Kingsbury and co so far.
Kingsbury has handed Murray the keys and he has played admirably so far if not exceptionally. In his first eight games Murray has made 186 of 292 attempts for 1988 passing yards, 7 touchdowns, four interceptions and a 63.7% completion rate. Murray is also proving effective in the run game with 51 attempts for 279 yards and two touchdowns with 5.5 yards per attempt.
Murray may not look like your standard quarterback but has played above his stature and appears to be settling into NFL life. The mistakes were aplenty for Murray in the early stages of the season as attempted to find his feet, however these appear to be on the decline and his sense for the NFL game is improving.
The concerns for the Cardinals offence remains in particular the offensive line which has been leaky at best and left Murray incredibly vulnerable, only his legs have kept him out of harms way. Murray has learnt to be safer with the ball and turnovers have been on the decline. His most recent outing showed this when he chose to throw away two passes instead of attempting to make an ill advised pass or taking a sack.
McLaurin may be not be in the most ideal circumstances at this time but he is certainly a shining light for the Redskins in a hugely underwhelming group. so far in 2019 McLaurin has provided 458 yards and 5 touchdowns off 28 receptions.
Despite Washington’s poor offensive display McLaurin has been reasonably consistent through the early part of his season. He has provided over 50 yards in all but two of the seven games so far in 2019, the last two against San Francisco and Minnesota were poor for McLaurin which is largely down to the redskins switching to a run first offence.
The unfortunate expectation going forward is McLaurin may continue to suffer if the Redskins are adamant on the run game. McLaurin will continue to be the top passing target for Keenum or whoever is the quarterback but that may not be of much value of this season if this trajectory continues. A positive for McLaurin is he is averaging over 93% of the snap count over the first eight games of the season.
McLaurin should continue to provide WR3/4 numbers going forward and may see some favourable match-ups against Jets in week nine and the Giants in the fantasy championship (week 16).
Burns appeared in my Rookies Watch article as a candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is currently dealing with a wrist injury and subsequent surgery and was held to minimum snaps in the blowout loss to 49ers.
That being said he is well on his way back to full strength and is growing as an NFL player every game. Burns season stats so far 15 tackles, 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a defensive TD. He faces some stiff competition and may well fall short for the overall award but can be proud of the start he has made.
Another Player in last week’s article so will keep this short, if you want to read further into my Jacobs view go check out last week’s Rookies Watch.
Jacobs is far and away the most impressive non-quarterback rookie at the halfway mark. Week Eight against the stout Texans D resulted in 15 attempts for 66 yards and 4.4 yards per carry. Through eight weeks Jacobs has posted 620 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground from 124 carries. He is still largely absence from the pass game, if he is unleashed he will surely be a locked RB1 in fantasy.
Bosa summed up his season so far with the dominating display against Carolina that earned him NFC Defensive player of the week. What made it all the sweeter for Bosa was his brother Joey being the AFC defensive player of the week.
Since the 49ers drafted Bosa with the number two overall pick he has been nothing short of dominate from the edge and helped guide them to a 7-0 start to the 2019 season.
Through 8 weeks Bosa has 20 tackles, seven sacks, 13 QB hits, one force fumble and one interception which he took for 46 yards and is tied in seventh for sack in the NFL. Bosa has been apart of a dominating defensive front by the 49ers which has allowed 276 passing yards and grabbed 5 interceptions in the past four games.
Week 8 against the Panthers was Bosa’s best game of his short career, three sacks, four tackles and one interception. Bosa is not only putting together a DROY performance but has also put his name into the hat for defensive player of the year, something which only Lawrence Taylor has managed as a rookie.
The Long and Short
And there we have it, my Top 10 rookies so far in 2019.
I hope you all enjoyed and if there are any rookies you disagree with or feel I missed be sure to hit me up on Twitter. I am always up for a debate.
Be sure to check out next week’s Rookie Watch for the Week 9 breakdown as we edge closer to the fantasy playoffs.
-Ash Goddard @Addicted2_FF