Week 15 NFL Rookie Rankings

Only 2 weeks left now.  Week 15 was a very solid week for rookies.  Cam Newton continues to impress with his dynamic play.  Greg Little had a breakout performance that we have been waiting for since the season started.  Jake Locker continues to show that he should be the starter in Tennessee.  I know I keep repeating this, but I can’t emphasize enough how amazing it is that we have 5 rookie quarterbacks who are playing.  It’s really quite a special year for rookies.  In a year when people were worried about the rookie class, I think most have been pleasantly surprised.  

The last 2 weeks should continue to showcase some of the rookies.  The playoffs are also coming into shape.  And it looks like we should see a few rookies on teams that make it.  Julio Jones, T.J. Yates, Randall Cobb, Kendall Hunter, Torrey Smith and Mark Ingram are all going to be playing in the playoffs.  That should be exciting to watch.  I’m going to be doing playoff rookie rankings as well.  So, keep an eye out for that.  Onto this weeks rankings.

 

1. Cam Newton QB Carolina Panthers (Last week #1)

Newton has solidified his place at #1 for the rest of the year.  His numbers weren’t earth shattering this week.  However, he was going against the #1 ranked defense in the NFL.  He finished with 149 passing yards, 55 rushing yards and 2 TDs.  His QB rating was 105.2.  The best thing about his game was that he committed zero turnovers.  And, in falling with the the theme this year, the Panthers won.  They haven’t lost a game this season when Newton has been turnover free.  There is no doubt that Newton has far exceeded expectations for this season.

2. DeMarco Murray RB Dallas Cowboys (Last week #2)

Not much to say about Murray after he got hurt 2 weeks ago.  However, I’m keeping him at #2 because he was so good when he was the starter.  Murray is going to stay at #2 unless someone else does something absolutely amazing.  He’s going to finish the year 1st in rushing for rookies, which tells you how good he was before he got hurt.

3. A.J. Green WR Cincinnati Bengals (Last week #3)

Green had an absolutely fantastic game this week.  He finished with 115 yards on 6 receptions.  The bad thing is that he suffered a grade 3 shoulder sprain, also know as a separation.  He says that he will play this week.  Assuming he really does, he will be the best receiver from this draft.  He might be even if he sits out the last 2 games.  He already has 1,000 yards on the year.  He’ll end up in the top 20 in receiving no matter what.  That’s very impressive for a rookie.  He has a great shot at finishing with the most receiving yards for a rookie this year.  He’s an absolute #1 wide receiver.  And no other rookie can say that.

4. Andy Dalton QB Cincinnati Bengals (Last week #4)

Dalton didn’t have a great game.  He threw an interception and didn’t throw any TDs.  He only threw for 179 yards and his completion percentage was 57.7.  Dalton managed the game and led his team to a win.  That’s about all I can say about this week’s game.  And he was helped out big time by Green.  Green had no right catching his 55-yard bomb in the first half.  It was over-throw, but Green made a fantastic play.  Then Green took a screen pass and ran 30 yards with it.  So, about 90 of Dalton’s yards weren’t really as a result of anything he did.  Still, Dalton has the Bengals at 8-6 on the year.  And his yearly numbers are still very impressive for a rookie quarterback.

5. Julio Jones WR Atlanta Falcons (Last week #6)

Jones had another good game this week.  He scored an early TD and then finished with 85 yards on 5 receptions.  Jones has proven time and time again that he is going to be great if he can stay healthy.  He has missed 3 games and is still 3rd in receiving yards for rookies.  And he’s 6th in the entire NFL in yards per catch.  Jones is a very explosive playmaker that just needs to stay healthy.  If you take out games that he wasn’t 100% in, his numbers are staggering.  He basically has all of his stats in 8 games.  So, if you doubled his stats for the 8 games he’s been healthy in, you would have this stat line: 78 catches, 1460 yards and 10 TDs.  That’s pretty darn spectacular.

6. Roy Helu RB Washington Redskins (Last week #5)

Helu had a mediocre game at best.  He only ran for 53 yards on 23 carries.  And he had 3 receptions for 16 yards.  The Giants played a great game defensively.  Helu did his job as a banger who didn’t turn the ball over.  I’m not going to punish him too much for 1 bad game.  He’s still 2nd on the year in rookie rushing.  And he’s 3rd in receptions for rookies.  He’s having a very solid rookie year for sure.  

7. Jake Locker QB Tennesse Titans (Last week #11)

I know, I know, he didn’t even start this week.  Well, I don’t care.  His numbers are absolutely insane.  His QB Rating on the year is 99.4.  His yards per attempt is 8.21.  He has 4 TDs and no turnovers.  Look, he’s done this in limited action, but that absolutely has to change.  His completion percentage isn’t great, but he’s making up for it by making big plays.  He’s also shown great athletic ability when running the ball.  He has 56 rushing yards and a TD.  I get the idea of being careful with rookies.  I especially get it with rookie quarterbacks.  However, it’s time to take the kid gloves off and give him a chance.  There is no doubt in my mind that this guy is legit.  

8. Torrey Smith WR Baltimore Ravens (Last week #7)

Smith’s numbers this week actually look pretty solid.  He finished with 77 yards on 6 receptions and a TD.  However, most of that came in garbage time.  I can’t completely blame Smith as Flacco was pretty inept in the first half.  It was still a solid game for Smith and showed that he is a real part of this offense.  Smith is 2nd in receiving yards for rookies and tied for 1st in receiving TDs.  Smith may not be the #1 receiver in Baltimore, but he’s certainly their best playmaker at receiver.

9. Greg Little WR Cleveland Browns (Last week #13)

This is the game I’ve been waiting for all year from Little.  He blew up for 131 yards on 5 catches and a TD.  The TD was his longest play of the year.  In fact, it was the second longest reception by a rookie this year.  Little was the clear #1 receiver for the Browns this week.  Maybe it was because Seneca Wallace was throwing to him.  He’s 2nd in receptions for rookies and 5th in receiving yards.  Not bad for a guy on a pretty pathetic offensive team.  He still has some kinks to work out, but he’s getting there.

10. Christian Ponder QB Minnesota Vikings (Last week #9)

Look, I know that Ponder struggled this week.  I know that most of his stats came in garbage time.  I’m not saying he’s been fantastic this year.  What I’m saying is that he’s a rookie QB who is making rookie mistakes, but he’s made his team more exciting to watch.  Ponder doesn’t have a whole lot on his team as far as talent.  Outside of Percy Harvin, he has no receiving threats of any kind.  Sure he has Adrian Peterson, but he’s been banged up quite a bit.  He hasn’t been fully healthy since week 10.  If you put Andy Dalton on this team, I promise he wouldn’t be doing any better.  Ponder has shown a lot of potential if you ask me.  Give him some time and some talent and he’ll be just fine.

11. Doug Baldwin WR Seattle Seahawks (Last week #13)

Baldwin didn’t do much this week.  He only had 1 catch.  Two things happened this week.  Number 1 is that Seattle built a big lead and ran the ball 30 times.  Number 2 was that Seattle really spread the ball around when they did pass.  10 different players caught a pass.  And only Zach Miller and Golden Tate caught more than 2 balls.  What this tells me about Baldwin is that he’s not an extreme talent.  I think Tate is clearly the most talented receiver with Sidney Rice out.  I still think Baldwin has a future in the NFL.  He’s a very solid 2nd or 3rd receiver.  And he’s been a monumental success this year after going un-drafted.  However, he’s not ever going to be an elite talent.

12. T.J. Yates QB Houston Texans (Last week #10)

Yates struggled big time this week.  He was facing a defense that hadn’t shown much all year. I know he was without star wideout Andre Johnson, but he still had Arian Foster and Ben Tate.  With those 2 running backs, teams can’t drop safeties into coverage.  They have to stop the run and try to force Yates to throw.  That’s what the Panthers did and they came out with a victory because Yates couldn’t produce.  He had 2 interceptions and didn’t have any TDs.  He did have a decent completion percentage at 63.3%.  He just made too many mistakes.  I still think he has some talent, but I don’t like the Texans’ chances in the playoffs if he doesn’t step up his game. 

13. Titus Young WR Detroit Lions (Last week #14)

Young had a decent game this week.  While he was certainly overshadowed by Megatron, he did come down with 5 catches for 21 yards and a TD.  Young had 544 yards and 4 TDs on the year.  Not bad at all for a rookie receiver who is the 3rd or 4th option on his team.  Young seems to have completely put his dumb personal foul (and subsequent benching) behind him.  I think he definitely has a bright future.

14. Randall Cobb WR Green Bay Packers (Last week #16)

As expected Cobb had a bigger role in the offense this week.  He led the Packers in receptions this week with 4 catches for 53 yards.  Cobb should be relatively fresh heading into the final weeks of the season, so I could see him having a big game or two.  He certainly has the talent as he’s shown in flashes throughout the year.  I look for the Packers to really bounce back this week against the Bears.  And I think Cobb could be a big part of that.

15. Blaine Gabbert QB Jacksonville Jaguars (Last week #15)

A big part of me wanted to drop Gabbert down a few spots this week.  Quite simply, there really wasn’t anyone to move up.  Gabbert had an abysmal game.  Until the 4th quarter, he had literally done nothing.  He improved his stats some on a couple of late drives.  In the first half, he fumbled twice and put his team in a large deficit.  I know his offensive line stinks, but he has to protect the ball.  One of the best quotes I’ve heard all year was when T.J. Yates said he wanted every drive to end with a kicker.  Meaning he wanted every drive to end with either a punt, a field goal or an extra point.  I think that’s a great mentality for a rookie quarterback.  Gabbert has fumbled 13 times this year.  That’s completely unacceptable.  Gabbert ranks dead last in the entire NFL in QB Rating, fumbles, passing yards per game and completion percentage.  Not exactly what you want to see for your supposed franchise quarterback.

16. Mark Ingram RB New Orleans Saints (Last week #12)

Ingram sat out another game this week.  That’s the bad news.  The worse news is that Christopher Ivory has really stepped up in his absence.  Ivory has 127 yards in his last 2 games.  Ingram needs to return quickly if he wants to stay on this list through the end of the year.  The good news for Ingram is that the Saints are in the playoffs.  So, he’ll have a chance to do some damage then as well.

17. Daniel Thomas RB Miami Dolphins (Last week #17)

Thomas stays at #17 this week.  Thomas is still 4th in rushing for rookies.  He’s going to end up with over 600 yards, which isn’t terrible.  The problem is that Reggie Bush has absolutely exploded this year.  Bush went off for 203 rushing yards this week.  Thomas will continue to get some carries, but he’s not going to be a major part of this offense right now.  He still has a decent future as Bush has been prone to injury.  And with new coaches coming in next year, who know what they’ll have in store for Thomas.  

 

We didn’t have anyone drop out of the rankings this week.  That was more because there really wasn’t anyone who did much outside of the 17 guys on this list.  Stevan Ridley had a decent game, but has been so on and off throughout the year.  Chastin West had a TD reception for the Jaguars.  But, this was his first score on the year and he only has 126 receiving yards.  Jeremy Kerley has been doing a little bit for the Jets, but just not enough to crack the list.  Austin Pettis had an okay game for St. Louis, but again, he’s just not consistent.  

Perhaps this week, we’ll see some more stats from rookies.  We shall see.  I hope everyone has a great holiday week and a very Merry Christmas.  Until next week.

Josh

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