A quarter of the season is done and we have seen some impressive starts for 2020’s rookie class. A couple of undrafted rookies made the list this week. Just proving once again there is talent everywhere you just have to find them and put them in position to succeed. Some firsts this week with Yetur Gross-Matos out of Penn State getting a strip sack for the Panthers and Julian Blackmon recorded his first interception for the Colts. We still haven’t seen Tua yet for Miami. This will be the week that we could see the emegence of one of the top 4 tackles in the 2020’s first round. Preseason(if things were normal) is now over time to step up.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
- QB – Justin Herbert – 6’6” 236 – Oregon – 1st Round pick (6th Overall) vs Tampa Bay Bucs (L, 38-31)
Game Day Stats: 20-25 completions / 290 yards / 3 touchdown / 1 interception / Rushing: 14 yards / 0 touchdowns
Herbert got a chance Sunday to dual with arguable the greatest quarterback of all time in Tom Brady. On Sunday the young signal caller, who is 21 years Brady’s junior, showed off some of his exceptional arm talent. His first touchdown pass with defenders in his face was a perfect in stride ball thrown for a 53 yard strike. Herbert’s second throw revealed some touch on a back shoulder fade for a 19 yard touchdown. On his final touchdown pass, again under immense pressure, he delivered a perfect ball to put his receiver to put his team up 31-28. Herbert still throws off his back foot too much and in the NFL you can’t do that consistently (unless you’re Pat Mahomes) and live to tell the story. Brady of course was also up to the challenge and threw 5 touchdown passes. The challenges don’t stop for Herbert as he will get to duel another great next week in Drew Brees.
Performance Rating: 4.10
Next Game: at New Orleans Saints 8:15 Monday
2. WR – Justin Jefferson – 6’1” 202 – LSU – 1st Round pick (22nd overall) vs. Houston Texans (W, 31-23)
Game day Stats: 4 receptions / 103 receiving yards / 0 touchdowns
Jefferson rolled out another excellent performance Sunday. Despite only being targeted 5 times he made them count. All four of Jefferson’s catches went for first downs, got the Vikings offense over midfield, and were on eventual scoring drives. The Vikings picked up their first win of the season and Jefferson’s emergence as a big play target not only is helping Kirk Cousins but also his fellow wide receiver Adam Thielen (8 catches – 114 yards – 1 touchdown). This group will be put to the test next week against a very good defensive team in Seattle.
Performance Rating: 3.9
Next Game: at Seattle Seahawks 8:20pm Sunday
3. RB – Antonio Gibson – 6’0” 228 – Memphis – 3rd round pick (66th overall) vs. Baltimore Ravens (W, 31-17)
Game Day Stats: 46 yards rushing / 82 yards receiving / 1 rushing touchdown
Gibson, a wide receiver at Memphis, has carved out a nice role for himself as Washington’s featured back. The 3rd round pick is excellent in the screen game; a one cut and go running back, and can lineup in several positions on the field. Gibson receiver skills and running back body is a steal in the third round. Against the Ravens his 17 touches for 128 yards kept his football team within striking distance for most of the game.
Performance Rating: 3.8
Next Game: vs. Los Angeles Rams 1:00pm Sunday
4. RB – James Robinson – 5’10” 225 – Illinois State – undrafted – vs. Cincinnati Bengals (L, 33-25)
Game Day Stats: 17 carries / 75 rushing yards / 0 touchdowns / 4 receptions / 32 receiving yards
If you want to be a successful running back in the NFL you need to be able to do three things: run the ball, catch the ball, and last but not least pass protect. James Robinson has shown in the first quarter of the season he can do all three at a high level. His physical style is making him a TC56 rookie list favorite. On his 21 touches, he punished defenders. He even managed to stiff arm a Bengal defender off of him while the player had a hold of his face mask. His consistency and effort are what got him to the league and is what’s going to keep him there.
Performance Rating: 3.6
Next Game: at Houston Texans 1:00pm Sunday
5. LB – Patrick Queen – 6’0” – 229 – LSU – 1st round pick (28th overall) vs. Washington (W, 34-20)
Game day Stats: 9 Solo Tackles/ 3 assists / 3 tackles for a loss
Queen had a bounce back performance after struggling vs Edwards-Helaire and the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The show must go on though and Queen stepped up versus Washington. He was constantly around the ball and weaved his way through blockers and found ball carriers. Queen still struggles a bit in coverage however his game is speed and he is an excellent blitzer. I expect to see more of that in the weeks to come.
Performance Rating: 3.5
Next Game: vs. Cincinnati Bengals 1:00pm Sunday
K –Rodrigo Blankenship – Georgia – 6’1” 191 –Undrafted vs. Chicago Bears (W, 19-11)
Game day Stats: 4-4 Fields made / 1-1 extra points / 13 total points
I can’t believe a kicker made my list but when you single handedly out score another NFL team you got to make it. He is currently tied for the league lead in total points (45) and field goals made (12). Blankenship was an undrafted player out of Georgia. I had to do an age check because he is one of those college players who seemed to be at his school for 10 years. Blankenship also rocks an impressive pair of rec specs adding him to the long list of great athletes like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Eric Dickerson, and ……Rodrigo Blankenship? I guess time will tell.
Performance Rating: 3.5
Next Game: at Cleveland Browns 4:25pm Sunday
Week 4 2020 Draft Class Match up Results:
Cincinnati Bengals QB – Joe Burrow vs. Jacksonville Jaguars CB – CJ Henderson
- Winner: Joe Burrow picked up his first win as a pro and threw for 300 yards. Although Henderson was only targeted twice and gave up one completion.
Los Angeles Chargers QB – Justin Herbert vs. Tampa Bay Bucs S – Antoine Winfield Jr.
- Winner: Justin Herbert was very good Sunday and hit a 2 deep touchdowns one being over the top of Winfield. Winfield was targeted twice and only managed 2 tackles.
Week 5 2020 Draft Class Match up:
Baltimore Ravens LB – Patrick Queen vs. Cincinnati Bengals QB – Joe Burrow
- I expect Queen to be more involved in the blitz game especially versus a young offense line and quarterback. Burrow has a huge divisional test against an aggressive Raven defense.
San Francisco 49er WR – Brandon Aiyuk vs. Miami Dolphins CB – Noah Igbinoghene
- Aiyuk’s emergence has been a gift to the beat up 49ers. Igbinoghene has seen significant time as with injuries to Byron Jones. Both teams are getting some weapons back which means we could see some battles in the slot on Sunday.
Throwback Draft Class Battle:
2016 Draft Class:
Carolina Panthers LB – Shaq Thompson vs. Atlanta Falcon RB – Todd Gurley
- These two veterans are sure to meet at some point come Sunday. Thompson has 31 tackles on the season and Gurley is the leading rusher (254 yards 4 touchdowns) for the Falcons.
Throwback Draft Class Battle Results
2018 Draft class:
New York Jets QB – Sam Darnold vs. Denver Broncos Edge – Bradley Chubb
- Winner: Despite a spectacular touchdown run by Darnold, Bradley Chubb got the best of Sam Thursday night. Chubb recorded 2.5 sacks and 5 QB hits in a very good performance by the 2018 5th overall pick.
Rookie Play of the Weekend:
Aiyuk is a stud athlete for the Niners and this play highlights just how good he is with the ball in his hands.