Ethan Hewett | October 9th, 2019
Another week brings us another set of rookie rankings as we saw a lot of defensive players put up impressive individual performances. While some names find their way back to the top of the leaderboard, several offensive names who got off to hot starts have continued to simmer as the season progresses. Let’s get right into the rankings starting, as always, with a couple of honorable mentions.
Chase Winovich, EDGE – Winovich is a player who hasn’t got a lot of attention this season but currently leads this rookie class in sacks with a total of four. Winovich also makes the most of his snaps as he has recorded at least a 0.5 sack in each of the last four games while never playing more than 42% of the New England Patriots defensive snaps. Look for Winovich to get after Daniel Jones this week against the New York Giants.
Mack Wilson, LB – Wilson has continued to put up solid stats for the Cleveland Browns defense. Wilson racked up six total tackles along with a tackle for loss and a pass deflection Monday Night against the San Francisco 49ers. Wilson has become a big part of this Cleveland defense and I expect him to continue to have good individual performances and possibly make a couple of big plays this week against the Seattle Seahawks.
15. Ed Oliver, DL, Buffalo Bills
Week Five Stats: 6 Total Tackles
Oliver has had a somewhat disappointing 2019 season so far. The production just hasn’t quite been where the Bills would like it to be, but he does have some impact when he is on the field. Oliver was notorious for getting double teamed in college and NFL offensive lines have done some of the same early on this season. Oliver was finally able to rack up a good amount of tackles last week against the Tennessee Titans and he showed great hustle and effort to chase down Derrick Henry and make a touchdown saving tackle. Week six has the Bills on a bye week but week seven brings the Miami Dolphins to town so look for this Buffalo defensive line to get after Josh Rosen.
Projected Stat Line vs Miami: 5 Total Tackles, 1 Sack
14. Dexter Lawrence, DL, New York Giants
Week Five Stats: 5 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 TFL, 1 FF
Lawrence put up a solid performance against the Minnesota Vikings in week five. He racked up five total tackles along with a tackle for loss, and his second sack on the season. Lawrence is a nightmare for interior linemen as he stands at 6’4” and 350 lbs. and has the athleticism of a linebacker. He has continued to get pressure throughout the season and while the team may not be very good, Giants fans have to be happy with what they’ve seen from Lawrence. Week six takes the Giants to Foxborough so look for this Giants team to try and get after Tom Brady and slow down this New England Patriots offense.
Projected Stat Line vs New England: 4 Total Tackles, 2 TFL
13. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Week Five Stats: 2 Rec, 44 Yards, 1 TD
Metcalf has been a solid downfield threat for this Seahawks offense. While he gained nearly all of his yards on a 40-yard touchdown grab from Russell Wilson in the second quarter, Metcalf has found his role in Seattle’s offense. While his catch ratio isn’t great, sitting at 46.2%, it’s important to realize that Metcalf sees a lot of 50/50 balls downfield. Metcalf could still use some improvement on his footwork before he can efficiently run a full route tree. Until then I’m okay with Seattle working with what he does best. Week six will be a matchup against the Cleveland Browns who have disappointed this year so far. Look for Seattle to continue to utilize Metcalf against a struggling Browns defense.
Projected Stat Line vs Cleveland: 3 Rec, 70 Yards, 1 TD
12. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals
Week Five Stats: 20/32, 253 Yards, 10 Car, 93 Yards, 1 Rushing TD
Murray was finally able to grab his first NFL victory on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals where he also notched his second NFL rushing touchdown. While he hasn’t been super productive with stats, Murray has shown his pocket presence including a beautiful 23-yard pass over the middle that was unfortunately called back due to a penalty. Murray has also proven that he is almost always the fastest player on the field and is extremely elusive on the move. Week six brings the Atlanta Falcons to Arizona who have a middle of the road secondary and an almost nonexistent pass rush, so look for Murray to have another good game this week.
Projected Stat Line vs Atlanta: 25/38, 300 Yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
11. Cole Holcomb, LB, Washington Redskins
Week Five Stats: 10 Total Tackles
Holcomb has been a tackling machine for this Redskins defense. Of course, the individual performances of Holcomb haven’t been reflective of what the defense as a whole has been so far this season. Holcomb brought his tackle total to 37 on the year but has been inconsistent in pass coverage. Week six has the Redskins taking on the Miami Dolphins, which will most likely be one of the ugliest games we have seen and one team will finally emerge with a victory while Holcomb should continue to impress.
Projected Stat Line vs Miami: 12 Total Tackles, 1 TFL
10. Byron Murphy, CB, Arizona Cardinals
Week Five Stats: 9 Total Tackles, 1 PD
Murphy has continued to be a big part of this Cardinals defense after another game where he was on the field for 100% of the defensive snaps against the Cincinnati Bengals. Byron has been an interesting rookie to watch so far this season. While his tackle numbers are great (24), he has struggled in coverage. I put Murphy higher on this list this week because I see improvement, and if he keeps improving he could wind up being the best cornerback out of his draft class. Week six has the Cardinals traveling to take on the Atlanta Falcons who have struggled to find their identity, so look for Murphy and this Cardinals defense to pounce on an under-performing Falcons offense.
Projected Stat Line vs Atlanta: 7 Total Tackles, 1 INT
9. Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Week Five Stats: 4 Rec, 79 Yards
Hardman and the Chiefs offense hit a bit of a rough patch on Sunday Night against the Indianapolis Colts. While the offense was slower than usual, Hardman was still able to put up good numbers as he was an even bigger part of a Chiefs offense that was missing both Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins in their week five matchup. Hardman has continued to be a solid downfield threat, but with the potential return of Tyreek Hill this week against the Houston Texans, Hardman could see a decline in snaps in this Chiefs offense. The Texans do have a rather poor secondary so if Hill doesn’t return, Hardman could potentially put up another solid game.
Projected Stat Line vs Houston: 3 Rec, 60 Yards
8. Brian Burns, EDGE, Carolina Panthers
Week Five Stats: 3 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 FF
Burns has dominated these past few weeks and put up a solid performance in week five against the Jacksonville Jaguars including an early defensive touchdown to help put his team in front. Not only that, Burns was able to grab a late-game strip-sack which helped his team end the game. After being named Defensive Rookie of the Month in September, Burns continues to impress as he is second in sacks for rookies behind only Chase Winovich (four). Week six will be a rematch as the Panthers will be taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who Burns was able to post a sack against them in week two.
Projected Stat Line vs Tampa Bay: 4 Total Tackles, 1 Sack
7. Josh Allen, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week Five Stats: 6 Total Tackles, 1 Sack
Allen has continued to be a solid threat off the edge for this Jacksonville defense. Allen has now notched his third sack with all three coming over the past three games. While the Jaguars gave up a good amount of points to the Carolina Panthers, Allen was able to get pressure and eventually sacked Kyle Allen on a twist where he used his speed and power to push back the Panthers offensive guard. Week six brings the New Orleans Saints and a good offensive line to town, so look for Jacksonville to get creative in how they plan to bring pressure and rattle quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Projected Stat Line vs New Orleans: 5 Total Tackles, 1.5 Sacks
6. Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants
Week Five Stats: 4 Rec, 62 Yards, 1 TD
Slayton has quietly been having a very good season for the Giants. With several injuries and suspensions to the Giants receiving room, Slayton has been fellow rookie Daniel Jones’ favorite target so far. Slayton has served as a solid downfield threat and has generated big plays including a 35-yard touchdown last week against the Minnesota Vikings for the Giants only touchdown of the game. This week a Thursday Night matchup against the New England Patriots will be an ugly game. Slayton is going to have to step up big time with receiver Sterling Shepard out and tight end Evan Engram also potentially out for their contest against a very good Patriots defense.
Projected Stat Line vs New England: 7 Rec, 80 Yards, 1 TD
5. Troy Reeder, LB, Los Angeles Rams
Week Five Stats: 13 Total Tackles
Reeder was battling for a roster spot back in August on this Rams team, and while the Rams may have kept the undrafted free agent mostly for special teams, Reeder put on a show as the Rams had him on the field for 73% of the defensive snaps versus the just 18 snaps he played in all of the first four games. He was stout in his run defense and decent in coverage. Reeder will have another talented tight end matchup this weekend as the Rams will bring the San Francisco 49ers to town with their Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle. Look for Reeder to continue to be a big part of revamping this Rams defense.
Projected Stat Line vs San Francisco: 9 Total Tackles, 1 TFL
4. Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week Five Stats: 8 Total Tackles, 1 INT
Bush had another good game last weekend against the Baltimore Ravens. While they did lose the game, Bush once again put up good tackle numbers bringing his total on the year to 45 (leads all rookies). Bush also was able to grab his first NFL interception, even if it was controversial, the effort Bush put in on the play was top notch. Bush continues to be the bright spot for this Pittsburgh team and this week they will be taking on the struggling Los Angeles Chargers. It seems like an easy bet that Bush will be close to double-digit tackles at this point and I don’t see any reason why he won’t against the Chargers this week.
Projected Stat Line vs Los Angeles: 10 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 PD
3. Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers
Week Five Stats: 4 Solo Tackles, 2 Sacks, 1 FF
Bosa had another great week on Monday Night Football. Unfortunately, we haven’t given Bosa as much credit as deserves. He has been incredible on film but simply hasn’t been the guy to get the tackle or the sack. Bosa was finally able to capitalize on his pressures and showed that he was indeed worth the second overall pick after picking up two impressive sacks and a forced fumble. He also capitalized on playing against a sub-par Cleveland Browns offensive line. Week six has the 49ers traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Rams, who have lost two straight games and have allowed eight sacks so far this season. Look for Bosa to get to Jared Goff this weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs Los Angeles: 5 Total Tackles, 1 Sack
2. Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week Five Stats: 26/44, 374 Yards, 2 TD
While Minshew and the Jaguars fell short against the Carolina Panthers, he continued to put together a great game. Minshew has yet to throw an interception since week one, and while he did have a sack that cut short a late fourth-quarter drive, they had a chance to win the game. However, they stalled out and were forced to just heave it to the end zone and weren’t able to get it done. All that said, Minshew had a really good game against a very good Panthers secondary and next week will be another challenge as the top ten pass rush New Orleans Saints are coming to Jacksonville. Look for Jacksonville’s offensive line to struggle to slow down this Saints pass rush.
Projected Stat Line vs New Orleans: 25/44, 260 Yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
1. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Week Five Stats: 26 Car, 123 Yards, 2 TD, 3 Rec, 20 Yards
Jacobs finally eclipsed 100 rushing yards in week five against the Chicago Bears overseas in London. Jacobs has been a very strong runner between the tackles and is rarely brought down by the first man to him. His first touchdown run showed off a great cut back into the middle and a great burst to get through the second level into the end zone, and he was able to break free for a 21-yard run early in the first quarter showing off the contact balance and pure speed. Week six is a bye for the Raiders, but week seven takes them to Green Bay where they will take on the Packers who have had success against opposing running backs. Jacobs could be up for a challenge in two weeks.
Projected Stat Line vs Green Bay: 16 Car, 75 Yards, 1 TD
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