Even with some major bye weeks for rookies in the NFL, we got our dose of excitement from the young players. Lamar Jackson won in his first start, multiple rookie wide receivers made huge impacts, and the Colts may be solidifying both the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards. What a week it was for the 2018 NFL Draft’s rookies.
Rookie of the Week
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orleans Saints
- This was one of the hardest rookie of the week awards of the season to pick. Darius Leonard, LVE, Quenton Nelson, DJ Moore, and Saquon Barkley all could have won it, but the emergence of Tre’Quan Smith in the Saints 48-7 win over the Eagles was too good to pass up. Smith became the height-weight-speed deep threat opposite Michael Thomas that the Saints had been looking for this year. He went off with 10 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. Drew Brees clearly has full trust in the rookie and Smith rewarded him with plays downfield and great ball adjustment ability. The third-round pick has the size, speed, and catch radius to be a big difference maker in the Saints system. A classic example of the importance of fit paired with the importance of natural ability.
Week 11 Rookie Power Rankings
*In brackets is where the rookie ranked last week
Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts (2)
- It’s finally happened, Derwin James has been displaced from the top spot on the rookie power rankings for the first time all season. Darius Leonard just made too many special plays once again this week. He was the defensive difference maker for the Colts in their 38-10 win over the Titans. Leonard effected the game in every way. Against the run he had two big run stops and cleaned up multiple tackles. In coverage he came away with a key INT, covered TEs up the seam, and stopped underneath routes from going anywhere. He’s also becoming on of the best blitzing off-ball LBs in the game and had a strip sack. Leonard is a game changer and deserves to make the Pro Bowl.
Derwin James, Defensive Weapon, Los Angeles Chargers (1)
- Part of the reason Derwin James slid down one spot was because he wasn’t nearly as impactful against the Broncos as he has been in the Chargers other games this season. Now that’s not to say James played poorly because he didn’t he had a solid game, just not the game we’re used to seeing from him. He ended up missing two tackles, one of which would have been for a major TFL. The Chargers used him more in a nickel role this week and this was part of the reason he had less of an effect on the game. Playing at nickel, his ability in man coverage was showcased. James still finished with seven tackles, but it wasn’t the performance we’re used to. Again, this is a Pro Bowl player.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys (3)
- Well, the Cowboys have themselves Sean Lee’s replacement. Not just that, but the Cowboys have themselves someone who can be better than Sean Lee. LVE is everything the Cowboys could have hoped for and more. He once again played a key role Dallas’ win over the Falcons. LVE finished the game with eight tackles, three PBUs, and an interception. Of those eight tackles, five were run stops and one was a screen stop. Meaning those were major impactful tackles. The interception was off a tip and gave Dallas a ton of momentum in the close win. His size, movement skills, and aggressiveness are ideal for today’s NFL linebacker.
Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts (4)
- For the first time in NFL history it’s completely possible and justified for an offensive lineman to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Quenton Nelson has lived up to the hype and although odds are stacked against him for OROY he should legitimately be considered. He has given the Colts O-line life with an injection of attitude. Against the Titans he went against Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey and handled business. He moved Casey around in the run game and anchored down vs him in pass pro. Nelson came away with another pancake and even sat on the defender, it was glorious. Once again the Colts didn’t give up a single sack. This is a Pro Bowl guard.
Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos (5)
- A big reason the Broncos pulled off the upset against the Chargers was their defense, specifically their edge rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Chubb was a terror against the run and helped hold Melvin Gordon to just 69 rushing yards on 3.8 per carry. He was consistently making plays at or behind the line of scrimmage and came away with two TFLs and three run stops. Chubb is quickly becoming one of the better run defending edge players in the league. As a pass rusher he took advantage of one-on-ones and picked up a sack and two pressures.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (7)
#Giants fans should be really excited about Saquon Barkley. He's grown and developed a more downhill mentality. Bouncing runs outside too fast was seen as one of his biggest flaws pre-draft. pic.twitter.com/AwaIqVlZNh
— J Reid (@JReidNFL) November 21, 2018
- Against Tampa Bay it wasn’t the most impressive statistical day of Saquon Barkley’s rookie season, but it may have been the best day from a pure running standpoint. He set his single season rushing record with 142 yards on the ground and it was the way he did it that was most impressive. Instead of a few short carries followed by one massive run, it was consistent inside chunk runs from Barkley. He looked far more disciplined as a runner and took what was there to carve up the Buccaneers. It looks like his feel for the NFL game has improved and pairing this disciplined style with the consistent tackle breaking and athleticism was sick. Barkley ended up with three scores on top of the yards.
Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (6)
- In a tough Thursday Night Football loss to the Seahawks, Jaire Alexander showed up despite a not so flashy stat line. Alexander had six tackles and didn’t break up a pass for the first time in his last five games. He also gave up two key catches to Doug Baldwin, but on both of those plays he had tight coverage and Russell Wilson just fit the ball in with elite placement. Alexander had great man coverage throughout the night and showed an awesome ability to play press zone. Despite no crazy stats, Alexander showed up in primetime.
Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers (9)
- Not a massive game for Donte Jackson, but a nice bounce back game for him after what happened against the Steelers. Jackson did everything asked of him and didn’t see much action against the Lions because of his tight coverage. He had another nice screen stop in this game and he’s quickly becoming one of the best corners vs screens in the game. The consistent explosiveness from Jackson both in coverage and as a tackler has been impressive.
Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers (8)
- The San Francisco 49ers were on their bye week in Week 11, meaning no Fred Warner. The third-round pick has been everything the 49ers could have hoped for at middle linebacker. He has used his rare blend of athleticism and violence to pair with Reuben Foster and make for one of the leagues most impressive LB duos. Warner is on pace to finish the season with 123 tackles, two forced fumbles, and eight PBUs.
Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns (10)
- The Cleveland Browns were on their bye week in Week 11, meaning no Denzel Ward. People criticized the Browns taking Ward fourth overall, but it has paid of as he’s been the best DB on their roster all season. His combo of footwork, fluidity, physicality, and athleticism is exactly what’s needed in a number one corner. Ward is on pace to finish the season with 67 tackles, five interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and 16 PBUs.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Miami Dolphins (12)
- The Miami Dolphins were on their bye week in Week 11, meaning no Minkah Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick hasn’t been used enough by the Dolphins, but his versatility and football IQ have been impressive. Multiple times this season he’s played cornerback, nickel, and safety in the same game. This is a franchise player and a DB to build around. Fitzpatrick is on pace to finish the season with 83 tackles, two interceptions, and eight PBUs.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills (13)
- The Buffalo Bills were on their bye week in Week 11, meaning no Tremaine Edmunds. It’s almost like Edmunds has been the forgotten one of this great rookie linebacker group because he’s in Buffalo. He’s been great as a rookie for the Bills and is still only 20. His potential is through the roof with his size and athleticism. Edmunds is on pace to finish the season with 112 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, and 11 PBUs.
Justin Reid, S, Houston Texans (18)
🔥🔥🔥 101 yard pick six for Texans rookie Justin Reid 💪#Texans
- In a few years we’ll look back and be baffled that Justin Reid fell all the way to the third-round. The Texans cashed in on Reid and it keeps showing every week. Without Reid the Texans wouldn’t have beat Washington this week. He intercepted a pass in his own end zone and returned it 101 yards for a touchdown. An absolute momentum stealing play that helped makeup for a slow offensive day from Houston. That’s not all Reid did either, he was excellent in coverage all day breaking up two other passes. He also added a nice run stop. A first-round talent falling to the third-round is crazy.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers (14)
- The San Francisco 49ers were on their bye week in Week 11, meaning no Mike McGlinchey. Even though he was the 9th overall pick it feels like McGlinchey isn’t mentioned much. He was underrated in the draft process and now is underrated as a pro. He’s been fantastic starting at right tackle for the 49ers and has helped them become the third best rushing offense in the league this season despite losing both their starting QB and RB already this season.
Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears (15)
- As the Bears defense gets better and better each week so does rookie first-round pick Roquan Smith. He hasn’t been getting a ton of the spotlight with players like Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks on his team, but he’s been good. Smith was a big part of the reason the Vikings couldn’t run the ball at all. Of his seven tackles four were run stops. If he can cleanup his coverage the sky is the limit.
Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals (11)
- It was another iffy game for Jessie Bates in a game where his skillset couldn’t effect much. Being a center fielder safety it’s hard for Bates to make impactful plays against a run first team that’s main passing game is on short throws. Bates didn’t really effect the passing game because of what Baltimore was doing. He made two solid run stops and racked up nine tackles, but lacked big play ability in this game.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (20)
- In the Broncos big 23-22 win over the Chargers their offenses biggest plays came from rookies Courtland Sutton and Phillip Lindsay. Yet again, Lindsay showed the NFL size doesn’t matter when you run as hard as he does. In the game Lindsay had 15 touches for 106 total yards and two scores. One of those scores came on a 41-yard run where he burst through the hole and just out athleted everybody on the field. His decisive hard running style and quick fluid cutting ability is a joy to watch.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (17)
- The Cleveland Browns were on their bye week in Week 11, meaning no Baker Mayfield. Cleveland finally has their franchise QB in Mayfield. He’s been one of the better rookie QBs you’ll see. Not only is he flashing potential, but he’s strung together a handful of impressive games. The accuracy, mobility, and leadership have made a huge difference for the Browns. Mayfield is on pace to finish the season with 3,174 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while completing 61.8% of his passes on 6.96 YPA.
Braden Smith, OT, Indianapolis Colts (19)
- There’s nobody with a better rookie class than the Colts. Quenton Nelson gets the majority of the credit for the Colts improved O-line and rightfully so, but Braden Smith’s name deserves some respect. This man has stepped in and been as steady as can be at right tackle. The most impressive thing is at Auburn Smith played guard and he’s kicked to tackle for the Colts and hasn’t struggled. His game isn’t as flashy as Nelson’s, but against the Titans he got the job done. His length and athleticism are perfect for the modern NFL right tackle. He’s a huge reason the Colts gave up no sacks again.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (16)
- It was a tough loss for Calvin Ridley and the Falcons. Falling to the Cowboys on a last second field goal. Ridley had maybe his worst game of the season picking up just three receptions for 32 yards. Worst of all, he had a ball go off his hands and get intercepted by the Cowboys. It wasn’t a great week for Ridley who disappeared in this game.
Maurice Hurst Jr., IDL, Oakland Raiders (27)
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (26)
Da’Ron Payne, IDL, Washington (21)
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears (24)
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns (25)
Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (33)
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (28)
Harold Landry, EDGE, Tennessee Titans (23)
Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals (35)
Deadrin Senat, IDL, Atlanta Falcons (22)
Will Hernandez, OG, New York Giants (30)
James Daniels, OG, Chicago Bears (29)
Taron Johnson, CB, Buffalo Bills (31)
Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints (32)
BJ Hill, IDL, New York Giants (34)
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, New Orelans Saints (NR)
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers (NR)
Da’Shawn Hand, IDL, Detroit Lions (36)
Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns (38)
Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, New York Giants (43)
Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (50)
Jerome Baker, LB, Miami Dolphins (41)
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (37)
Bilal Nichols, IDL, Chicago Bears (45)
Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens (48)
Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals (39)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (40)
Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans (NR)
Frank Ragnow, OG, Detroit Lions (NR)
Brian O’Neil, OT, Minnesota Vikings (47)
Start the Rook
Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals had one of the worst defensive game plans that I've ever seen for a dual-threat QB. 3rd-and-4 here and they leave zero LBs in the box vs. Lamar Jackson. BAL runs QB draw for an easy first down. pic.twitter.com/5Sj0vV1GTS
— J Reid (@JReidNFL) November 21, 2018
- There’s a good chance that after his first start in Week 11, Lamar Jackson will be starting again in Week 12 with the injury to Joe Flacco. It may not have been the prettiest performance, but Jackson gave the Ravens offense an identity, something they’ve lacked for years. His ability as a runner caused the defense to commit a player to him on every single play and that helped open up the run game as a whole. The Ravens ended up running for 265 yards in their 24-21 win over the Bengals, with 117 of those yards coming from Jackson. As a passer it was kept fairly simple, but if Marty Mornhinweg opens up the passing game for Jackson it’ll be worth it. There were glimpses of Jackson’s great ability to move in the pocket and work through his reads quickly. Hand the reigns to Jackson, open up the passing game, and get this offense rolling.
Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
- Another helpful factor in the Ravens big rushing day against the Bengals was the performance of undrafted rookie running back Gus Edwards. Edwards ran for 115 yards and a score while averaging 6.8 yards per carry. He brought back the Ravens old school smash mouth running style using his 6-1, 238-pound frame to run inside consistently for chunk yards. With Edwards inside ability and Lamar Jackson’s outside ability the Ravens rushing attack was hard to defend. Alex Collins is a nice back, but he hasn’t been a great fit with what Baltimore is trying to do on the ground this season. Let’s see what Edwards can do as the lead back with Jackson under center.
Trey Quinn, WR, Washington
- Oh? Is this one of my favorite players from the 2018 NFL Draft? It sure is, and what did he do in his first NFL start? Oh, he just caught all four of his targets for four first downs, eh? Keep using this man Washington, especially with Colt McCoy running your offense after the gruesome Alex Smith injury. Quinn won’t wow with huge plays downfield, but he’s a consistent route runner who does a great job getting open and picking up first downs. With not much in terms of wide receivers on this team, he should be starting the rest of the season. Getting Quinn, Jamison Crowder and a combo of Maurice Harris and Josh Doctson on the field is the best move for this McCoy led offense.
- Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
- DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
- Mike Hughes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
- Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals
- Uchenna Nwosu, LB, Los Angeles Chargers
- Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers
- Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
- Justin Reid, DB, Houston Texans
- Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints
- Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
- Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Carolina Panthers
- Braden Smith, OL, Indianapolis Colts
- Arden Key, EDGE, Oakland Raiders
- PJ Hall, IDL, Oakland Raiders
- Damion Ratley, WR, Cleveland Browns
- Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
- Alex Cappa, OG, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Avonte Maddox, NB, Philadelphia Eagles
- Tarvarius Moore, DB, San Francisco 49ers
- Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens
- Wyatt Teller, OG, Buffalo Bills
- Obo Okoronkwo, EDGE, Los Angeles Rams
- Grant Haley, CB, New York Giants
- Robert Foster, WR, Buffalo Bills
- Greg Stroman, CB, Washington
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