This week’s rookie edition produced some big time performances and spectacular plays. I believe we are going to start to see these young players have a meaningful impact on seasons. Usually a rookie can define their role in the four preseason games. This year because of the Covid (old man voice) those roles had to be defined in regular season games. A couple of new names got added to the list this week and some familiar faces remained. I think next week we could see an even bigger explosion from the 2020 rookie class.
- WR – Chase Claypool – 6’4” 238 – Notre Dame – 2nd Round pick (49th overall) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (W, 38-29)
Game day Stats: 7 receptions / 110 receiving yards / 4 touchdowns (1 rushing & 3 receiving)
Claypool’s performances has been bubbling to the surface for a couple of weeks now. Some early season big plays gave you a sneak peak of his ability. In week 5 the Notre Dame product’s ability boiled over. Chase opened the scoring with a two yard rushing touchdown on a jet sweep. He followed that up with touchdown catches of 5, 32, and 35 yards in a record setting day for the Steelers rookie. Pittsburgh has a long history of talented wide receivers that have put on the black and yellow. It started with Hall of Famers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann, it continued on with Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Antonio Brown, and now present day with JuJu Smith-Schuster. Chase Claypool made people stand up and notice that there is a new receiver in town…..nickname Maple Tron (heard someone call him that this weekend because he is Canadian).
Performance Rating: 4.70
Next Game: vs. Cleveland 1:00pm Sunday
2. LB – Patrick Queen – 6’0” – 229 – LSU – 1st round pick (28th overall) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (W, 27-3)
Game day Stats: 9 total tackles / 1 sack / 1 forced fumble / 2 fumble recoveries / 1 touchdown
Queen is another player who has been teasing a breakout game for the last couple of weeks. He earned a spot on the list last week for his ability and effort to get to the football. That effort has now paid off with some huge plays in a dominant defensive game for the Ravens. I predicted last week Queen would be more involved in the blitz game. On a stunt blitz, Queen not only got to the quarterback, he caused, and recovered a fumble. Queen’s effort paid off in spades when he ran from his middle backer position into the flat, scooped up a Bengals fumble, and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown. His speed and ability to be around the ball all the time made for a day fit for a King for Queen.
Performance Rating: 4.65
Next Game: vs. Philadelphia Eagles 1:00pm Sunday
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
3. QB – Justin Herbert – 6’6” 236 – Oregon – 1st Round pick (6th Overall) vs New Orleans (L, 30-27)
Game Day Stats: 20-34 completions / 264 yards / 4 touchdown / 0 interception / Rushing: 14 yards / 0 touchdowns
Two weeks in the row Herbert got to duel with two of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play football. Against the Bucs and Tom Brady, Herbert looked calm, collected, and raised his level of play. On Monday Night Football in New Orleans Herbert raised his play even more. Justin Herbert again showed his arm strength on the deep balls and the sideline out routes. On his 1st touchdown pass of the night the Chargers did not pick up the blitz and Herbert was pressured immediately. He calmly avoided the rush and threw a laser toward the end zone, connecting with Keenan Allen for the score. He showed his full arsenal of weapons including his underrated play action game. He hung in the pocket, stepped into his throws, and delivered on time. Herbert will start to turn these strong outings into wins after a much needed bye week.
Performance Rating: 4.5
Next Game: Bye
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
4. WR – Henry Ruggs – 5’11” 181 – Alabama – 1st round pick (12th overall) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (W, 40-32)
Game Day Stats: 2 Receptions / 118 yards receiving / 1 receiving touchdown
Going into the 2020 draft Henry Ruggs was TC56 top ranked receiver. Like Claypool, he showed some flashes but hadn’t blown the top off coverage yet. Sunday Ruggs showed the league just what kind of ability he has. His first catch was a spectacular 72 yard touchdown. Ruggs ran right by a Chiefs cornerback on a post route and hauled in a Derek Carr pass in stride. His second catch, which set up a field goal, was a 50/50 ball. Ruggs showed his strength and physicality by pealing the ball off the defenders helmet for a 46 yard catch. Look for Coach Gruden to find some new ways to get Ruggs the football during the bye week.
Performance Rating: 3.8
Next Game: vs. Bye
5. WR – Cee Dee Lamb – 6’2” 198 – Oklahoma – 1st round pick (17th overall) vs. New York Giants (W, 37-34)
Game day Stats: 8 receptions / 124 yards / 6 first downs
Cee Dee Lamb is not a burner like Henry Ruggs, he is not physically imposing like Chase Claypool, or have the big play ability like Justin Jefferson. However, Lamb operates the middle of the field better than all these receivers. He caught the majority of his footballs over the middle with defenders bearing down on him. Lamb showed toughness, a knack to finding the open windows in coverage, and the ability to move the sticks. The Cowboys lost Dak Prescott for the season so Cee Dee will need to continue to progress and be a weapon for back up quarterback Andy Dalton.
Performance Rating: 3.8
Next Game: vs. Arizona Cardinals 8:15 Monday
OT – Jedrick Wills – 6’4” – 312 – Wisconsin – 1st round pick (10th overall) vs. Washington (W, 34-20)
Game day Stats: The Browns gave up 1 sack to a team that had 11 coming into the week 5 match up.
Wills has improved each week. His initial punch on pass protection is excellent and he moved his feet well against a wide 9 defensive end. He matched up against Justin Houston for most of the game who had 3.5 sacks coming in. He did give up on sack to Al-Quadin Muhammad but for the rest of the day he kept Baker Mayfield clean against a talented Colts defense. Its hard to call the tenth pick in the draft a sleeper but playing left tackle in the NFL is a daunting task with defensive ends getting faster and stronger every year. Building offensive line chemistry is so important for keeping a young quarterback upright and establishing an effective running game. Wills is going to be a reliable pro and a part of the Browns resurgence.
Performance Rating: 3.7
Next Game: at Dallas Cowboys 1:00pm Sunday
Week 5 2020 Draft Class Match ups Results:
Baltimore Ravens LB – Patrick Queen vs. Cincinnati Bengals QB – Joe Burrow
- Winner: Patrick Queen put together a tremendous performance Sunday showing off his athletic ability, speed, and football IQ. Burrow went through the growing pains in an extremely tough divisional game.
San Francisco 49er WR – Brandon Aiyuk vs. Miami Dolphins CB – Noah Igbinoghene
- Winner: Brandon Aiyuk had 3 catches for 44 yards and disappointingly Igbinoghene did not play in the game.
Week 6 2020 Draft Class Match up:
New York Giants OT – Andrew Thomas vs. Washington DE- Chase Young
- Both players have had their ups and down in there rookie campaigns. The 4th and 2nd pick respectively should have a physical battle on Sunday with both franchises looking to move the needle toward the winning column.
Detroit Lion CB – Jeff Okudah vs. Jacksonville Jaguars CB – CJ Henderson
- The two top corners in this year’s draft will try and lock down their respective team receiving core. Both have showed the ability to be elite corners in the league.
Week 5 Throwback Draft Class Battle Results:
2016 Draft Class:
Carolina Panthers LB – Shaq Thompson vs. Atlanta Falcon RB – Todd Gurley
- Although Shaq Thompson’s team won the war, Todd Gurley showed some flashes of what made him a 2-time all pro. Gurley surpassed the century mark for the first time this season (14-121-1 touchdown).
Week 6 Throwback Draft Class Battle:
2015 & 2016 Draft Class:
Buffalo Bills WR – Stefon Diggs vs. Kansas City Chiefs WR – Tyreek Hill
- In all honestly Cam Newton vs. Von Miller would have been great here. Newton is coming back from the Covid and Miller is out for the season therefore the Super Bowl rematch and 2011 #1 and #2 pick match up is squashed. So I got creative and in a huge AFC match up pair of former 5th round picks will show their 1st round talent. Hill and Diggs are a big plays waiting to happen. Make sure your home early from work because the game starts at 5pm Monday night.
Rookie Play of the Weekend:
In a amazing feet with the rules being what they are Isaiah Rodgers takes a kickoff to the house to try and get his team back in the game.