Week 7 for NFL rookies was all about the offensive skill players. Two running backs topped the rushing charts last Sunday both going over a 100 yards. Two rookie quarterbacks had career days with one leading all quarterback’s in passing yardage this weekend. The 2020 rookie class scored 12 total touchdowns in week 7 which is about 15% of this weekend’s touchdown total. These rookies are not only contributing to their offenses but they are beginning to become the stars of their offenses.
Week 8 will bring us the debut of Tua Tagovailoa for the Dolphins. Getting to start is the good news for Tua. The bad news unfortunately is he faces Aaron Donald and the Rams defense which ranks 3rd in the NFL in sacks (24 sacks). Rams vs. Dolphins is not the only big game that will feature some dynamic rookies. The Steelers and Ravens have always been a physical rivalry; Chase Claypool and Patrick Queen add another fresh athletic element to this important AFC North showdown. Seahawks vs. 49ers, Browns vs. Raiders, and Lions vs. Colts will all have playoff positioning implications and have rookies play an integral part of their team’s success.
TOP 5 ROOKIE PERFORMANCES WEEK 7
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
- QB – Justin Herbert – 6’6” 236 – Oregon – 1st Round pick (6th Overall) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (W, 39-29)
Game Day Stats: 27-43 completions / 347 yards passing / 3 touchdowns / 66 yards rushing / 1 touchdown
Herbert did not miss a beat after the bye week and as a matter of fact he looked even better in a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Chargers receivers don’t have to separate too much from defenders with Herbert’s incredible arm strength. He spent Sunday afternoon fitting the ball into tight windows and hitting receivers in stride. Herbert’s mobility really changes the game for a player his size. He runs the zone read extremely well and adds a dangerous aspect for opposing defenses. Week 8 will be an important next step within the division. A win on Sunday could make some people stand up and take notice. The Chargers schedule going forward is not impossible.
Performance Rating: 4.5
Next Game: at Denver Broncos 4:05 Sunday
2. QB – Joe Burrow – 6’3” 221 – LSU – 1ST Round (1st Overall) – vs. Cleveland Browns (L, 37-34)
Game Stats: 35-47 completions / 406 yards / 3 touchdowns / 34 yards rushing / 1 touchdown
Each and every week we are seeing the maturation of Joe Burrow. He does not have the Howitzer type arm Justin Herbert does but he is very accurate. Burrow is much more a surgeon than gunslinger. He worked his way down the field picking apart Cleveland’s defense with 406 yards passing. Despite being under constant pressure Burrow is a cool customer. He is developing a great rapport with fellow rookie Tee Higgins and veteran Tyler Boyd. You know how I love comparisons but I can definitely see a lot of the same attributes to another Joe who was pretty good in the 80’s. I am sure in some way this is unheard of to people but we could be seeing the 80’s version of Montana/Marino with Burrow/Herbert. We can only hope!
Performance Rating: 4.30
Next Game: Thursday Night at Cleveland Browns
3. RB – James Robinson – 5’10” 225 – Illinois State – Undrafted – vs. Los Angeles (L, 39-29)
Game Day Stats: 22 carries / 119 rushing yards / 1 touchdown / 4 receptions / 18 receiving yards / 1 receiving touchdown
Robinson has been a road warrior for the Jags during his rookie campaign. Both of his 100 yard games have come on the road and he averages double the amount of yards on the road he does at home. The Jaguars are clearly in a rebuilding stage but running back is not a position they will have to worry about. Robinson has shown the complete package of power, athleticism, and football IQ during his first 7 games of his career. Robinson gets to put his bulldozer body in park this week with a bye.
Performance Rating: 4.2
Next Game: Bye
4. RB – Antonio Gibson – 6’0” 228 – Memphis – 3rd round pick (66th overall) vs. Dallas Cowboy (W, 25-3)
Game Day Stats: 20 carries / 128 rushing yards / 1 touchdown
It is scary to think a game pitting 2-4 and 1-5 football teams would be so important in the division standings. In the NFC East wins are as rare as a Peter Luger steak. Washington went back to basics against a poor Cowboys defense. Antonio Gibson was the core of their power run game going over the century mark for the first time in his young career. His work between the tackles and vision was impressive. Washington also used him in some old school inside counter plays and toss sweeps to the outside. Gibson’s ability to carry the load will be important with Washington’s issues at quarterback. If they are to make a run for the playoffs Gibson will have a huge role.
Performance Rating: 4.00
Next Game: Bye
San Francisco 49ers
5. WR – Brandon Aiyuk – Arizona State – 6’0” 205 – 1ST ROUND (25th Overall) vs. New England Patriots (W, 33-6)
Game day Stats: 6 receptions / 115 receiving yards / 5 first downs
Aiyuk is becoming a main target for the 49ers as we get closer to mid-season. Aiyuk was targeted as many times as All-Pro George Kittle and had his first career 100 yard game against the Patriots. The former Sun Devil has a knack for getting open, breaking tackles, and finishing his runs. With wide receiver speed and running back strength, the 49ers have to continue to find creative ways the get him the ball.
Performance Rating: 3.90
Next Game: at. Seattle Seahawks 4:25pm Sunday
TE – Harrison Bryant – 6’5” – 243 – Florida Atlantic – 4th round pick (115th overall) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (W, 37-34)
Game day Stats: 4 receptions / 56 receiving yards / 2 touchdowns
Bryant surprisingly is leading all rookie tight ends in catches, yards, and touchdowns. Bryant runs hard when he catches the football and scored two huge red zone touchdowns on Sunday against a division rival. If David Njoku could stay healthy they could complement each other well. With Odell Beckham is out for the season with a ACL tear and Nick Chubb will not be back for several weeks, Baker Mayfield will need to find other weapons to utilize. Bryant is building a pretty good case to be one of them.
Performance Rating: 3.70
Next Game: vs. Las Vegas Raiders 1:00pm
Week 7 2020 Draft Class Match ups Results:
Carolina Panthers DT – Derrick Brown vs. New Orleans Saints RG – Caesar Ruiz
- Caesar Ruiz played very well, occasionally going up against Derrick Brown. Ruiz was very good in pass protection, showed athleticism getting out in space on screens, and was run behind in some big gains for Saints backs. The Saints rushed for 138 yards and only gave up 1 sack. Derrick Brown only managed 1 assist in 54 defensive snaps.
Los Angles Chargers QB – Justin Herbert vs. Jacksonville Jaguars CB CJ Henderson
- I ask the question last week about this match up “would Herbert challenge CJ Henderson”? Justin Herbert answered those question early and often. When targeting Henderson, Herbert was 8 for 11 for 103 yards. Herbert has shown early on he is a fearless competitor.
Week 8 2020 Draft Class Match up:
Indianapolis Colts DB – Julian Blackmon vs Detroit Lions RB – D’Andre Swift
- Blackmon is coming off a bye week and has 2 interceptions already this season. Swift is starting to have a bigger role in the Lions offense. Swift is an all-purpose back so you can fully expect these two to meet up a handful of times at the collision point Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens LB – Patrick Queen vs. Pittsburgh Steelers WR – Chase Claypool
- Queen will not be directly covering Claypool during the course of the game however, if Chase wants to operated anywhere over the middle they will become more well acquainted. Both players have had some monster games and are getting their first taste of this physical rivalry
Week 7 Throwback Draft Class Battle Results:
#1 picks Ohio clash:
Cleveland Brown QB – Baker Mayfield vs. Cincinnati Bengals QB – Joe Burrow
- This is the kind of battle I have been looking for. These two high profile, number 1 picks, who share a state, and a division. In their first meeting the Bengals were playing from behind and Mayfield had an average performance. On Sunday they both took center stage and delivered. They had an entertaining back and forth. Mayfield threw for 5 touchdowns and Burrow threw for 406 yards. Baker Mayfield came away with the win in a close contest. Hopefully we can get a little flashback to the 80’s with these two franchises during the Boomer Esiason and Bernie Kosar era. The mid to late 80’s was the last time they were both relevant at the same time.
Week 8 Throwback Draft Class Battle:
2018 1st round Wide Receivers:
Atlanta Falcons WR – Calvin Ridley vs. Carolina Panthers WR – DJ Moore
- Moore was the 24th pick in the 2018 draft and Ridley was the 26th. Both have become major targets for their respective offenses. Ridley has been a touchdown machine scoring 23 touchdowns in 36 career games. Moore has racked up 2,530 yards during his career. Both lead their draft class in the respective categories. Although both teams have 4 wins combined getting to watch these two operate will be entertaining.
Rookie Play of the Weekend:
I put this one to a family vote. It was unanimous. My family really appreciates good special teams.