The NFL playoffs are fast approaching. Teams are battling for positioning to get into the tournament. As the saying goes “Big time players, make big time plays, in big time games. This rule doesn’t just apply for veterans. So it is no coincidence that the six players on the TC56 Rookie Report all were apart of games this week with playoff implications on the line. We are getting some impressive moments from some of the top prospects in this years draft and they are coming at the most opportune time. Here is your week 14 list.
TOP 5 ROOKIE PERFORMANCES WEEK 14
- DE – Chase Young – 6’5” 264 – Ohio State – 1st Round pick (2nd Overall) San Francisco (W, 23-15)
Game Day Stats: 6 tackles / 1 tackle for a loss / 1 sack / 1 fumble recovery – 47 yards – 1 touchdown / 1 forced fumble
If there is any team that needed a player to step up Sunday, Washington needed Chase Young to deliver a signature game in week 14. Young delivered in a big way by having his most impressive game of his rookie season. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio used him in a variety of ways and took advantage of the young defensive ends talents Young was all over the field, rushing the passer, chasing down ball carriers from the backside, and even dropping into coverage at times. The biggest play of the game came when he scooped up a 49ers fumble and raced down the sideline, like a young Walter Payton, 47 yards for his first career touchdown. Seeing Young play like this on Sunday is a scary proposition for the rest NFC east and league for that matter.
Performance Rating: 4.50
Next Game: vs. Seattle Seahawks 1:00pm Sunday
2. RB – Jonathan Taylor – 5’10” 226 – Wisconsin – 2nd round pick (41st Overall) vs. Las Vegas Raiders (W, 44-27)
Game Day Stats: 20 carries / 150 rushing yards / 2 rushing touchdowns / 2 receptions / 15 receiving yards
Rookie running backs down the stretch have started to take on an increase workload in the past couple weeks. We saw Cam Akers get 29 carries Thursday, James Robinson is averaging 17 carries a game this season, and before his toe injury Antonio Gibson’s carries were increasing every week. Jonathan Taylor has started to see the bulk of the carries in the last 3 weeks. He turned in his best game against the Raiders Sunday with a career high in rushing yardage and rushing touchdowns. The 2nd round pick out of Wisconsin continued to show his unique combination of power, speed, and versatility as his role is increased. His career long 62 yard run for a touchdown displayed his excellent speed separating from three Raider defenders. Like Akers and the Rams, Taylor and the Colts are postseason bound and these rookies could play a big role in advancing in the playoffs.
Performance Rating: 4.25
Next Game: at Houston Texans 1:00pm Sunday
LOS ANGELES RAMS
3. RB – Cam Akers– Florida State – 5’10” 217 – 2nd ROUND (52ND OVERALL) vs. New England Patriots (W, 24-3)
Game Day Stats: 29 Carries / 171 rushing yards / 2 receptions / 23 receiving yards / 8 first downs
Cam had his coming out party Thursday night against the New England Patriots. Although he did not get in the end zone for the first time in 3 weeks his workhorse performance should cement him as the starting running back down the stretch. Akers was a great all-purpose threat coming out of college despite Florida State’s struggles during his time there. Cam has now taken full advantage of his advanced role with one of the best teams in the NFC.
Performance Rating: 4.00
Next Game: at New York Jets 4:05 Sunday
4. QB – Jalen Hurt – 6’1” 222 – Alabama – 2nd Round Pick (53rd Overall)- vs. New Orleans Saints (W, 24-21)
Game Day Stats: 17-30 completions / 167 passing yards / 1 touchdown pass / 18 carries / 106 rushing yards
The Eagles needed a spark last week and Jalen Hurts gave the Eagles just that in a 24-21 victory over New Orleans. Hurts threw a touchdown and showed great mobility going over 100 yards as well. Although Wentz is a mobile quarterback Hurts style of running is more physical. Hurts will get another chance in Arizona this week to keep the starting job.
Performance Rating: 3.95
Next Game: at Arizona Cardinals 4:05pm Sunday
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
5. S – Antoine Winfield Jr. – 5’9” 203 – Minnesota – 2nd Round pick (45th Overall) vs. Minnesota Vikings (W, 26-14)
Game day Stats: 12 tackles / 1 sack / 1 forced fumbles
Winfield is quietly becoming a top safety in the NFL. First and foremost he is an excellent tackler who is always around the football. Playing safety and making open field tackles as the last line of defense prevents first downs from becoming touchdowns and is very underrated in today’s game. His versatility is shown in both coverage and in blitz packages. Early in the 4th quarter with Minnesota driving Winfield came up with a big play on 2nd down with a sack and a forced fumble. Although the Vikings recovered the play went for a 11 yard loss and made it 3rd and goal from the 20 yard line. This play led to a missed field goal and eventually a Bucs win.
Performance Rating: 3.85
Next Game: at Atlanta Falcons 1:00pm Sunday
S – Kamren Curl – 6’1” 206 – Arkansas – 7th Round Pick (216th Overall) – San Francisco (W, 23-15)
Game Day Stats: 7 tackles / 1 interception – 76 yards – 1 touchdown / 2 passes broken up
With Washington’s offense struggling during the game they needed a boost from their defense. Sunday, the team’s only touchdowns came on the defensive side of the ball. Chase Young scored their first touchdown in the second quarter on a fumble recovery and then at the end of the third quarter Curl took a tipped pass 76 yards to the house. Curl has stepped up big time in the absence of Landon Collins due to injury. Curl, similar to Winfield, can be used in a variety of ways and is an excellent tackler. The interception and touchdown were both the first in Curl’s young career.
Performance Rating: 3.60
Next Game: vs. Seattle Seahawks 1:00pm Sunday
Week 14 2020 Draft Class Match up Results:
Tampa Bucs DB – Antoine Winfield vs. Minnesota Vikings WR – Justin Jefferson
Considering Winfield is in the top 5 this week and Jefferson isn’t makes this choice easy. Jefferson had a pedestrian performance for his standards with only 4 catches for 39 yards. He did manage to score a 2 point conversion but we didn’t get to see Jefferson like we had in prior weeks. Winfield had season high 12 tackles and made a big sack on Kirk Cousins when the Vikings were driving. Winner: Antoine Winfield Jr.
Week 15 2020 Draft Class Match up:
2020 Rookie Coaching Clash:
New York Giants Head Coach – Joe Judge vs. Cleveland Browns Head Coach – Kevin Stefanski
Both coaches have done a solid job in their rookie seasons as head football coaches. These two first timers aren’t strangers to competing against each other. Judge and Stefanski where both Philly boys and attended the same Catholic high school (St. Josephs Prep) for a short time. Both played quarterback with Stefanski beating out Judge for the starting job on the freshman team. Judge ended up at Lansdale Catholic, while Stefanski remained at St. Joe’s Prep. Both became decorated high school quarterbacks in Philadelphia and went on to play College football at Mississippi State and Penn respectively. Now Judge and Stefanski get to compete again in prime time as head football coaches. The Giants and Brown are both coming off tough losses and need to a win to keep pace in their divisions.
Week 14 Throwback Draft Class Battle Results:
2019 QB Draft Class:
New York Giants QB – Daniel Jones vs. Arizona Cardinals QB – Kyler Murray
- This matchup didn’t live up to the hype mostly because of Jones being limited playing with a hamstring injury. Both quarterbacks games are predicated on using their legs to be effective. With Jones not 100% he struggled most of the game getting sacked 6 times. Murray wasn’t overally impressive but made the plays he had to in order to win the game. Winner: Kyler Murray
2017 QB Draft Class:
Houston Texans QB – Deshaun Watson vs. Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky
- This one came as a shock but Mitchell Trubisky had the better game on Sunday. Trubisky was efficient, got his team in the end zone, and did not turn the ball over. Watson and the Texans couldn’t get out of the gates managing only 7 points and being sacked 6 times. Trubisky helped score a big win for the Bear and keep that playoff window still open if even just a little bit. Winner: Mitchell Trubisky
Week 15 Throwback Draft Class Match up:
Philadelphia Eagles QB – Jalen Hurts ’20 vs. Arizona Cardinals QB – Kyler Murray
- Hurts who took over for Carson Wentz last week and led the Eagles to a 24-21 victory over the Saints. Hurts also took over for the departing Kyler Murray at Oklahoma as well. Both teams need this win this weekend so we will see which Sooner is up for the challenge come Sunday.
Rookie Play of the Weekend:
- Brandon Aiyuk had a career high 10 catches for 119 yards in a loss to Washington.
- Jalen Hurts became the 6th rookie quarterback to start a game this season.
- James Robinson became the 1st rookie running back to go over 1000 yards this year.
- Henry Ruggs has been placed on the covid list and will not play this week.
- Feuds such as Ali/Frazier, Magic/Bird, Coke/Pepsi, and Lebron/his hairline all pale in comparison to Bass/Blankenship. The dual between the two power legs of the NFL has become a compelling back and forth. This weekend Blankenship took the lead in total points with 14 in a win over Bass (113 points).
Rookie League Leaders:
TD Passes: Chargers – Justin Herbert – 25
Passing Yards: Chargers – Justin Herbert – 3467
Rushing TD: Washington – Antonio Gibson – 11
Rushing Yards: Jaguars – James Robinson – 1035
Receiving TD: Steelers – Chase Claypool: 8
Receiving Yards: Vikings – Justin Jefferson: 1078
Receptions: Vikings – Justin Jefferson: – 65
Total Touchdowns: Washington – Antonio Gibson – 11
Total Points: Colts – Rodrigo Blankenship – 116
Total Tackles: Panthers – Jeremy Chinn – 95
Tackles for a Loss: Washington – Chase Young – 8
Sacks: Washington – Chase Young – 5.5
Interceptions: Rams – Jordan Fuller – 3