We are at the midway of the NFL season and the race for offensive/defensive rookie of the year has become more clear. On the offensive side quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are the favorites. They will have some competition from wide receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Clyde Edward-Helaire. Defensively the landscape is a little more wide open with linebacker Patrick Queen, Safety Jeremy Chinn, Safety Antoine Winfield, and with a strong second half possibly Chase Young are all in the mix. Rookies are making impact for playoff bound teams and starting to earn some much needed playing time with teams in the lower half of the league. With the second half of the season underway this weekend we will see who raises there level of play to the finish line.
Top 5 Rookie Performances Week 8:
- QB – Joe Burrow – 6’3” 221 – LSU – 1ST Round pick (1st Overall) – vs. Tennessee Titans (W, 31-20)
Game Stats: 26-37 completion / 249 passing yards / 2 touchdown passes
Burrow was facing a daunting task last Sunday against one of the league most physical football teams. The Bengals offensive line played their best game of the year pitching a shutout in the sack department for the first time all season. Burrow reward the big guys upfront by leading them to a huge AFC victory. Burrow once again was incredibly accurate going over 70% completion for the second straight week. The rookie quarterback continues to take advantage of his big receiving core and accurately delivered footballs only they can catch. Nineteen of Burrows twenty six completions were caught by receivers 6’2″ or taller. Cincinnati gets a bye and then travels to Pittsburgh to face a currently undefeated Steelers team.
Performance Rating: 4.2
Next Game: Bye
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
2. QB – Justin Herbert – 6’6” 236 – Oregon – 1st Round pick (6th Overall) vs Denver Broncos (L, 31-30)
Game Day Stats: 29-43 Completion / 278 passing yards / 3 touchdown passes / 2 interceptions
Herbert continues to impress the NFL world with his arm strength and abilities to play quarterback in the NFL. The maturation process is evident. Herbert has checked down to his running backs, set his feet on sprint out pass plays, and even learned how to get out of bounds when scrambling so he can stay healthy. However, every now and then the rookie will come out. It came out Sunday in the form of two interceptions. The first was a late throw over the middle which almost always ends badly, and the second came on 50/50 ball in the end zone that the corner made an excellent play on. The Chargers blew a 21 point 2nd half lead and lost to the Broncos.
Performance Rating: 4.0
Next Game: vs. Las Vegas Raiders 4:05 Sunday
3. RB – JK Dobbins – 5’10” 225 – Ohio State – 2nd Round pick (55th overall) – vs. Pittsburgh (L, 28-24)
Game Day Stats: 15 carries / 113 yards / 5 first downs
Dobbins ran extremely well against the Steelers defense on Sunday. He showed the speed and elusiveness that he did when he was a Buckeye last season. Lamar Jackson and Dobbins looked very comfortable running the speed option together and had some nice gains on those plays. The Ravens are a running back by committee team but after Dobbins 1st career 100 yard performance look for him to get his touches in the 20’s this week.
Performance Rating: 3.8
Next Game: at Indianapolis Colts 1:00pm Sunday
4. RB – Zack Moss – 5’9” 223 – Utah – 3rd round pick (86th overall) vs. New England Patriots (W, 24-21)
Game Day Stats: 14 carries / 81 rushing yards / 2 touchdowns
Like the JK Dobbins, Zack Moss finally got himself double digits carries for the first time in a game this year. Moss is a downhill runner who always seems to get positive yards regardless of the blocking. His style was on full display during his two touchdown runs. The first he showed his ability to cut and get vertical up field with explosion. The second touchdown he showed his power by carrying several defenders on his back into the end zone. Moss will add a much needed option to the Bills rushing attack.
Performance Rating: 3.75
Next Game: vs. Seattle Seahawks 1:00pm Sunday
5. DE – Alton Robinson – Syracuse – 6’3” 263 – 5th ROUND (158th Overall) vs. San Francisco 49ers (W, 33-6)
Game day Stats: 3 total tackles / 1 sack / 1 tackle for a loss
The Seahawks always seem to find quality defensive players from everywhere during the Pete Carroll era. Whether it was Bobby Wagner 2nd round pick out of Utah State, Shaquill Griffen in the 3rd round out of Central Florida, and KJ Wright 4th round out of Mississippi they all have made a serious impact in Seattle. Robinson has a chance to be the next late round pick to make an impact for the Seahawk’s defense. Down the stretch and in the playoffs the Seahawks will need pass rushers when facing the likes of Brees, Brady, and Rodgers in the NFC. This coming week look for Robinson to get more snaps chasing after Buffalo Bills mobile quarterback Josh Allen.
Performance Rating: 3.50
Next Game: at Buffalo Bills 1:00pm Sunday
NEW YORK GIANTS
LG – Shane Lemieux – 6’4” – 310 – Oregon – 5th round pick (150th overall) vs. (L, 25-23)
Game day Stats: 1st career start / played all 74 offensive snaps
The Giants are struggling to say the least. Andrew Thomas has been struggling right along with them. The Giants 2020 first round pick however, looked much improved Thursday against a fierce Tampa Bay defensive line. The big key to that was the play of fellow rookie Shane Lemieux making his first career start. The mauling guard out Oregon looked like a 10 year vet playing guard and the throwback uniform looked natural on him. Lemieux and Thomas worked well together which was evident on Wayne Gallmen’s touchdown run. They handled the twists and blitz packages up front well. Original starter Will Hernandez will most likely miss another week with Covid-19. This will give another start the Lemieux to prove himself and win a starting job on the Offensive line. Washington and their defensive line will not be an easy task.
Performance Rating: 3.50
Next Game: vs. Washington 1:00pm Sunday
Week 8 2020 Draft Class Match up Results:
Indianapolis Colts DB – Julian Blackmon vs Detroit Lions RB – D’Andre Swift
- This one was a bit of a reach to begin with. Swift has not gotten the touches I had anticipated after having over 100 yards two weeks ago. Blackmon had 4 total tackles. This one was an even draw.
Baltimore Ravens LB – Patrick Queen vs. Pittsburgh Steeler WR – Chase Claypool
- Queen was not active Sunday mustering only 4 tackles from the middle linebacker position. Claypool had an average game and lost a fumble in the first half. However, when it came time to make a big play Big Ben went to Chase Claypool for the game winning touchdown.
Week 9 2020 Draft Class Match ups:
Baltimore Ravens RB – JK Dobbins vs. Indianapolis Colts RB – Jonathan Taylor
- Dobbins and Taylor battled it out in the Big 10 and now in the AFC. Both backs will be going against very good defenses. I expect Dobbins role to increase but Taylor is a mystery. Here to hoping both get good looks.
Jeff Okudah CB – Detroit Lions vs. Justin Jefferson WR Minnesota Vikings
- Jefferson is the real deal. He only had 3 catches against Green Bay but I think that says more about the rest of the offense than him. Okudah has been ok in a very difficult position to step right into in the NFL. This will be the first meeting between the first round picks and now division rivals.
Week 8 Throwback Draft Class Battle Results:
2018 1st round Wide Receivers:
Atlanta Falcons WR – Calvin Ridley vs. Carolina Panthers WR – DJ Moore
- This was another disappointing match up. These two guys caught 5 footballs combined and were only targeted 10 times. I have to call this one a draw.
Week 9 Throwback Draft Class Battle:
OLD MAN QB BATTLE
Tampa Bay Bucs QB – Tom Brady ’00 vs. New Orleans Saints QB – Drew Brees ‘01
- Watching two old presidential candidates all week bored me to tears however, give me Old Brady & Brees Sunday and I am locked in. Two quarterbacks who need no introductions but I will anyway. Their careers have include overcoming a lot of adversity. Brady, a sixth round pick out of Michigan and Brees a productive qb at Purdue who was deemed too short to play in the NFL. Brady replaced Bledsoe in 2001 and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl that year and 5 more after that. Brees overcame a shoulder injury, signed with the Saints and beat Peyton Manning’s Colts team in his Super Bowl victory. Brees at 41 and Brady at 43 are 1 & 2 all-time in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and completions. During Sundays game they may pass each other multiple times on the touchdown pass list (Brady: 561 Brees: 560). Now both are in the same division, so let’s sit back, relax, and witness history before our eyes. It will be better than waiting to see who our president is going to be.
Rookie Play of the Weekend:
Zack Moss powerful touchdown run:
- Tua Tagovailoa made his first start, threw a touchdown pass, and led his team to a win.
- 4 rookie quarterback started this week (Tua, Herbert, Burrow, Dinucci).
Rookie League Leaders:
Thru week 8
TD Passes: Chargers – Justin Herbert – 15
Passing Yards: Bengals – Joe Burrow – 2272
Rushing TD: Washington – Antonio Gibson/Lions – D’Andre Swift – 4 each
Rushing Yards: Chiefs – Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 572
Receiving TD: Steelers – Chase Claypool: 5
Receiving Yards: Vikings – Justin Jefferson: 563
Receptions: Cowboys – Cee Dee Lamb – 40
Total Touchdowns: Jaguars – James Robinson – 6
Total Tackles: Panthers – Jeremy Chinn – 67
Tackles for a Loss: Panthers – Derrick Brown – 6
Sacks: Washington – Chase Young – 2.5
Interceptions: Cowboys – Travon Diggs & 3 others tied with – 2