Ethan Hewett | October 30th, 2019
Another week of the NFL has passed and with the trade deadline headlining most of this week, it’s time to turn our attention back to what we saw over the weekend. Several offensive young guns have emerged back onto the scene and several defensive studs have continued their early dominance. One player is even making a case for Defensive Player of the Year. Who rose up to the challenge? Who fell short? Find out in this week’s edition of the Rookie Rankings. As always, let’s start with a couple of honorable mentions.
Kyler Murray – Murray has been an interesting rookie to watch this season. While his touchdown to interception ratio isn’t great at 7:4, Murray has done just enough to win his team a few games so far this season. Murray was able to play mistake-free football last week but was unable to find the end zone for the fourth time in the past five games. He will need to step it up a notch this week as the Cardinals will be taking on the 7-0 San Francisco 49ers.
Devin Bush – Bush had a quieter game on Monday Night against the Miami Dolphins only notching seven total tackles despite being on the field for 100% of the team’s defensive snaps. Bush continues to show off his athleticism and he leads defensive rookies in tackles at 59 on the year. Bush will need to continue to be aggressive this week as the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking on the Indianapolis Colts who boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.
15. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
Week Eight Stats: 3 Rec, 13 Yards, 2 TD
While Metcalf didn’t have many yards this week, he has continued to grow in this Seattle offense and is looking more and more comfortable each week. Metcalf was also able to have his first multi-touchdown game this past weekend against the Atlanta Falcons. Both of his scores came near the endzone with great play design to get Metcalf into open space for easy scores. Week nine has the Seahawks taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers whose defense has been inconsistent against the pass, and with tight end Will Dissly most likely out for the rest of the year, the 6’4” 229-pound receiver that Metcalf is will need to continue to be a big part of this offense.
Projected Stat Line vs Tampa Bay: 5 Rec, 80 Yards, 1 TD
14. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB, New Orleans Saints
Week Eight Stats: 5 Total Tackles, 1 TFL, 2 PD
Johnson had a great game for the second straight week that he has lined up as a starter for this New Orleans defense. He was able to rack up two more pass deflections along with a tackle for loss. Johnson saw the field for 48 of the 49 Saints defensive snaps and has been a big-time tackler in open space as well as in coverage. I would be surprised if Johnson loses a ton of playing time when P.J. Williams returns from suspension as Johnson has been very impressive. Week nine is a bye for the Saints but week ten has the Saints taking on the Atlanta Falcons who are currently 1-7 and can’t seem to do anything right at the moment.
Projected Stat Line vs Atlanta: 6 Total Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT
13. Taylor Rapp, S, Los Angeles Rams
Week Eight Stats: 12 Total Tackles, 1 PD
Rapp racked up a huge amount of stops leading his team in tackles last weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals. Rapp has seen a large amount of playing time over the past two weeks sitting out only one Rams defensive snap over that same time frame. Rapp has brought his tackle total to 44 on the season and has also notched three pass deflections. It looks as if Rapp has taken over the strong safety role in this Rams defense so look for him to continue to enjoy a large amount of playing time in the future. After this weekend’s bye week the Rams will get to face the Pittsburgh Steelers who are coming off of a scary win this past weekend so look for this Rams defense to pounce on a young Steelers offense.
Projected Stat Line vs Pittsburgh: 9 Total Tackles, 2 PD
12. Maxx Crosby, EDGE, Oakland Raiders
Week Eight Stats: 6 Total Tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FF
Crosby put up a solid performance last weekend against the Houston Texans matching his highest tackle total of six on the season. Crosby has been one of the more impressive defensive rookies for the Raiders team as he sits second in sacks on the team behind fellow defensive linemen Benson Mayowa. Week nine has the Raiders taking on the Detroit Lions who have struggled recently to protect their quarterback in Matthew Stafford. Look for Crosby and company to take advantage and for Crosby to try and grab his third sack on the season.
Projected Stat Line vs Detroit: 4 Total Tackles, 1 Sack
11. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders
Week Eight Stats: 15 Car, 66 Yards
Jacobs put up another solid performance this past weekend against the Houston Texans. While his average wasn’t quite as high at 4.4 yards per carry, he still has proven that he is a powerful and tough runner playing through a couple of injuries this season that hasn’t slowed him down much. Jacobs was also able to contribute somewhat in the passing game but this was a bit of a slow day for Jacobs and this Oakland offense. Next week the Detroit Lions are looking like a solid matchup for Jacobs behind a good offensive line going against the 26th ranked Lions defense in run success rate. Look for Jacobs to get a lot of touches this weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs Detroit: 20 Car, 100 Yards, 1 TD
10. Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants
Week Eight Stats: 2 Rec, 50 Yards, 2 TD
While Slayton didn’t see many touches this past weekend, the two that he did see were key to keeping this Giants team in contention with the Detroit Lions. While the team didn’t win, Slayton had two incredible catches in the early parts of the second quarter which both resulted in touchdowns. He was able to make the adjustments and go up and get the ball on deep jump balls down the field. He showed great in air body control and the connection between him and Daniel Jones should give Giants fans hope for the future. Week nine poses a tough opponent in the Dallas Cowboys so look for the Giants to keep all their weapons involved this weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs Dallas: 3 Rec, 66 Yards
9. Mecole Hardman, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Week Eight Stats: 2 Rec, 55 Yards, 1 TD
Hardman has been one of the most explosive rookies on the field so far this season. This past weekend against the Green Bay Packers, Hardman caught both passes thrown his way and took one of the two to the endzone for six. Hardman has shown that he is incredibly dangerous in space and while I don’t want to jump to any conclusions, we could be seeing a “Cheetah 2.0” in Hardman with his incredible speed and elusiveness. Given his production recently, I would expect that Head Coach Andy Reid will make sure that one of his more dangerous weapons is used well in this week’s matchup against a tough defense in the Minnesota Vikings.
Projected Stat Line vs Minnesota: 4 Rec, 70 Yards, 1 TD
8. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Week Eight Stats: 3 Car, 74 Yards, 1 TD, 3 Rec, 44 Yards
Sanders had a great performance this past weekend in the Eagles win over the Buffalo Bills. While most of his yardage came on a 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, we saw an explosion in Sanders that most Eagles fans have been waiting for. He showed great burst through the line of scrimmage and easily broke through the arm tackles into the second level and had the great top-end speed to eventually reach paydirt. Sanders did exit Sunday’s matchup early with an apparent shoulder injury that doesn’t seem to be super serious but will be something to watch moving forward into next week’s matchup against a very good Chicago Bears’ defense.
Projected Stat Line vs Chicago: 6 Car, 55 Yards, 4 Rec, 40 Yards
7. Hunter Renfrow, WR, Oakland Raiders
Week Eight Stats: 4 Rec, 88 Yards, 1 TD
Renfrow came out of nowhere this past weekend against the Houston Texans catching his first NFL touchdown and also nearly doubled his receiving yardage total on the season (203). Renfrow showed off the playmaking ability after catching a short pass early in the first quarter and making a few guys miss on his way to a 65-yard touchdown. Renfrow was able to catch all four passes thrown his way and also put up more than 30 yards for the first time. Week nine has the Raiders taking on the Detroit Lions who have a pretty good secondary so look for the Raiders to keep the defenders busy by utilizing several players, including Renfrow.
Projected Stat Line vs Detroit: 4 Rec, 55 Yards, 1 TD
6. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Week Eight Stats: 5 Rec, 84 Yards, 1 TD
Johnson had his highest receiving yards total this past weekend against the Miami Dolphins and grabbed his third touchdown of the season on an underneath route that Johnson was able to take to the house for 45 yards to end the first half. Johnson has slowly begun to emerge as a solid no. 2 behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and has become a favorite target for Rudolph. This week the Steelers will be taking on the Indianapolis Colts who have only allowed two touchdown passes in their last three contests. While this could be a big game for the Steelers running game, I would expect Smith-Schuster and Johnson to both still get a good amount of touches this weekend.
Projected Stat Line vs Indianapolis: 6 Rec, 75 Yards
5. Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week Eight Stats: 22/34, 279 Yards, 3 TD
The first Jaguar on our list is their young and talented quarterback in Minshew. Minshew had another clean game this past weekend against the New York Jets tossing three touchdowns which brings his total to 13. Minshew has been just what this Jags offense needed after years of suffering from sub-par quarterback play and he is making a solid case for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Minshew has been clutch as we saw last week finding DJ Chark on third down late in the fourth quarter for an 8-yard score to give his team the lead and eventually the win. With Minshew’s first three-touchdown game he is heading into a week nine matchup against the Houston Texans with a 13:2 touchdown to interception ratio.
Projected Stat Line vs Houston: 25/36, 280 Yards, 2 TD
4. Josh Allen, EDGE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Week Eight Stats: 2 Total Tackles, 2 Sacks, 1 FF
Allen once again found himself in the backfield for the fourth straight game and notched his second multiple-sack game this past weekend against the New York Jets. Allen has been a valuable asset to this Jaguars defensive line as he leads the team in both sacks (7) and tackles for loss (8). All of this has been done while Allen has served as mostly a rotation player, and he has racked up two forced fumbles as well. Allen will look to keep his sack streak alive this weekend as the Jags will be taking on the Houston Texans who are still looking to lock up their offensive line. Look for Allen to continue to get into the backfield in his rotational role.
Projected Stat Line vs Houston: 4 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 TFL
3. Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants
Week Eight Stats: 28/41, 322 Yards, 4 TD
While it was too little too late for the Giants this past weekend against the Detroit Lions, Jones had another solid week. Jones was able to keep it clean this week throwing no interceptions snapping a four-game streak. Jones had a couple of pretty touchdown passes to fellow rookie Darius Slayton in the second quarter. Both were deep passes that allowed Slayton to go up and make the adjustment and catch. Jones made some mistakes early on with a strip-sack to give Detroit their first touchdown of the game, but he stepped up as the game progressed and helped to keep his team in contention. Week eight has the Giants taking on a Dallas Cowboys defense that hasn’t been as impressive as expected so look for Jones to have another clean game.
Projected Stat Line vs Dallas: 25/38, 300 Yards, 2 TD
2. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears
Week Eight Stats: 27 Car, 135 Yards, 1 TD
Week eight brought us the David Montgomery we had been waiting for against the Los Angeles Chargers. He showed off the contact balance and incredible speed on a 55-yard run that Montgomery almost took to the house for what would have been his first touchdown of the game. This was only Montgomery’s second game with more than 20 touches and Matt Nagy is probably wishing he would have used more of him early on as the Bears find themselves at 3-4 and in last place in the NFC North. With his increased usage and success this past weekend, I expect Nagy to continue to use Montgomery a lot this week against a hit or miss Philadelphia Eagles rush defense.
Projected Stat Line vs Philadelphia: 20 Car, 95 Yards, 1 TD
1 Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers
Week Eight Stats: 4 Solo Tackles, 3 Sacks, 1 INT
Bosa finds himself atop the rookie rankings for the second week in a row after another dominant performance against the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday. Bosa was able to generate three sacks and showed off the athleticism by picking off a pass from Kyle Allen at the line of scrimmage and returned it for 49 yards. Bosa has tallied seven sacks to go along with 20 total tackles in his rookie campaign. Not only is he making a strong case for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he is also making a solid case for Defensive Player of the Year if he continues at this pace. Bosa will look to make the Arizona Cardinals pay this week for passing on him in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Projected Stat Line vs Arizona: 5 Total Tackles, 2 Sacks
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images