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NFL Rookie Rankings: Week Four

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Ethan Hewett| October 2nd, 2019

Week four of the NFL is behind us and at the quarter mark of the 2019 season, there have been a few surprises. If you had told me before this season that the top two rookie quarterbacks were going to be Gardner Minshew and Daniel Jones, I would have thought you were crazy but here we are. While some household names on offense have struggled, more defensive players were able to make their mark this past week and it was impressive. But that’s enough talk for now, let’s dig into these rankings starting with a couple of honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Mack WilsonWilson was a preseason highlight reel for the Cleveland Browns. He was finally able to make his mark this past week against the Baltimore Ravens and helped to slow down a very good offense from his linebacker position. Wilson has continued to get a lot of reps as he has been on the field now for every defensive snap these past two weeks. He is great in coverage and will hope to continue this trend into this weekend against the 3-0 San Francisco 49ers.

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Byron MurphyMurphy had been one of the most consistent rookie defensive backs over the first three weeks, and he added five more tackles to his total after this past weekend. While the stat line is great, Murphy needs to improve in coverage as he is partly to blame for most of the Carolina Panthers scores last weekend. Moving forward Murphy should be a lock to start next to Patrick Peterson when the All-Pro returns in week seven.

15. Quincy Williams, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week Four Stats: 8 Total Tackles

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Williams has continued to be a tackling machine for this Jaguars defense. After eight tackles last week against Denver, Williams brought his total to 28 total tackles which tied him with Ronnie Harrison as the Jaguars leading tackler. Williams has been a big part of this defense playing nearly 100% of the defensive snaps over the past three weeks. Week five takes the Jags to Carolina to take on the Panthers who are coming off a big win over the Houston Texans, but I expect Williams and this Jags defense to slow down a young quarterback in Kyle Allen.

Projected Stat Line vs Carolina: 10 Total Tackles, 1 TFL

14. T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions

Week Four Stats: 3 Rec, 27 Yards, 1 TD

Hockenson was forced to leave last week’s game during the third quarter after taking a hard fall to the turf which forced the young tight end into concussion protocol, but before this Hockenson made the most of his reps catching all three passes thrown in his direction for a decent chunk of yards. Matthew Stafford was able to connect with his rookie tight end inside the five-yard line for the first score of the game and Hockenson was able to hold on through the contact. Week five is the Lions bye week, but Hockenson is still a question mark for their week six matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

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Projected Stat Line vs Green Bay: 4 Rec, 60 Yards, 1 TD

13. David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

Week Four Stats: 21 Car, 53 Yards

Montgomery is another running back who hasn’t put up crazy numbers but he has earned nearly every single one of his 200 yards. While he has solidified himself as the number one back on that Bears offense, Montgomery has yet to have a breakout performance. However, he has been a consistent runner between the tackles and is rarely brought down by the first defender who gets to him. Week five takes the Bears to Oakland to face the Raiders and seeing that I don’t find Oakland having much success against this Bears defense, their offense could be playing from the lead allowing Montgomery to get several touches against a struggling Oakland run defense.

Projected Stat Line vs Oakland: 20 Car, 100 Yards, 1 TD

12. Noah Fant, TE, Denver Broncos

Week Four Stats: 2 Rec, 31 Yards, 1 TD

Fant was finally able to find his way to the end zone last weekend in Denver’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He gained most of his yards on a 25-yard pass where he used his yards after the catch abilities and agility on his way to Denver’s first score of the game. Fant has increasingly become a bigger part of this Broncos offense as his snap counts have continued to rise after seeing little time in week two. Fant could have another tough week as the Broncos are traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers who have had success at slowing down opposing tight ends.

Projected Stat Line vs Los Angeles: 3 Rec, 40 Yards

11. Dawson Knox, TE, Buffalo Bills

Week Four Stats: 3 Rec, 58 Yards

Knox continued to serve as the number one tight end this week in the absence of Tyler Kroft (foot) and made the most of the targets he got by catching all three for 58 yards. Knox continued to show off his yards after catch ability and made a couple of guys miss. Knox also made a couple of nice contested grabs downfield that showed off his hands and body control. Knox has averaged 18 yards a catch this season which puts him up there with several receivers and I don’t expect him to slow down if Kroft isn’t able to start this week either. Continue to keep an eye on Knox this week against the Tennessee Titans.

Projected Stat Line vs Tennessee: 4 Rec, 60 Yards, 1 TD

10. Miles Boykin, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Week Four Stats: 3 Rec, 32 Yards, 1 TD

Boykin had somewhat of a breakout performance this week after having zero catches in week three. Boykin caught all three passes thrown his way this past weekend including a nine-yard touchdown pass where Boykin was able to find the soft spot in the defensive coverage and Lamar Jackson delivered a strike for the team’s first score of the game against the Cleveland Browns. While Boykin’s role in the Ravens offense is small at the moment, I expect the Ravens to try and get him a couple of touches near the end zone this week as they will be traveling to Pittsburgh to take on a division rival in the Steelers.

Projected Stat Line vs Pittsburgh: 3 Rec, 45 Yards, 1 TD

9. Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Week Four Stats: 23/31, 225 Yards, 1 TD, 2 INT

Jones had another solid performance in week two against the Washington Redskins and continues to bring some hope to Giants fans. Jones did have some hiccups in the second quarter throwing two interceptions to Quinton Dunbar, both of which he deserved his share of the blame. These two throws aside, Jones picked apart the Redskins secondary and also had help from his running back Wayne Gallman who is attempting to fill the shoes of Saquon Barkley and did so last week. Jones will get Golden Tate back this week against the Minnesota Vikings so look for this Giants offense to continue to impress moving forward.

Projected Stat Line vs Minnesota: 25/38, 280 Yards, 2 TD

8. Khari Willis, S, Indianapolis Colts

Week Four Stats: 9 Total Tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD

With the injury of Colts starting safety Malik Hooker, Willis was able to get a lot of reps this past weekend against the Oakland Raiders as he was on the field for 100% of the Colts defensive snaps. Willis was all over the field and was utilized in several ways by defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. Willis diagnosed a screen quickly and was able to make a solid open-field tackle in the backfield and nearly had an interception late in the second quarter. Week five takes the Colts to Kansas City to take on the red-hot Chiefs offense, so we will see if Willis and this young Colts secondary can slow down a high powered and fast offense led by Patrick Mahomes.

Projected Stat Line vs Kansas City: 6 Total Tackles, 1 PD

7. Ryan Connelly, LB, New York Giants

Week Four Stats: 5 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 INT

Connelly has stepped up in a big way these past three weeks including a solid performance against the Washington Redskins this past Sunday. Connelly was able to get into the backfield and also played good coverage notching his first sack and his second interception on the season. While Connelly has dazzled early this season, he went down in their win against the Redskins with an apparent knee injury. After being looked at by medical teams, Connelly was diagnosed with a torn ACL and will sit on the injured reserve for the rest of the season. Connelly will now look to nurse himself back to full health this season in preparation for a strong return in 2020.

Projected Stat Line vs Minnesota: N/A (Injured Reserve)

6. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders

Week Four Stats: 17 Car, 79 Yards

Jacobs had his fourth solid performance of the season averaging 4.65 yards a carry in the Raiders 31-24 win last week over the Indianapolis Colts. While we didn’t see a home run style carry, what we did see was a strong and powerful running back who can also turn on the jets outside if given the chance. At the quarter-point of the season, Jacobs has shown why Jon Gruden and staff put their trust in him to be their workhorse running back as he has averaged 5 yards a carry on the season so far. This weekend is going to be a very tough matchup for Jacobs as the Chicago Bears and a very good defense are coming into Oakland.

Projected Stat Line vs Chicago: 12 Car, 45 Yards, 1 TD

5. Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week Four Stats: 6 Rec, 77 Yards, 1 TD

Johnson had a really good night against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday. He managed to catch all six passes that were thrown his way including a 43-yard dime from quarterback Mason Rudolph. Johnson has slowly become a big part of this offense as the connection between him and Rudolph helped to secure the Steelers their first win of the season. This week brings the Baltimore Ravens to town who have struggled the past couple of weeks against opposing team’s passing attacks so look for Mike Tomlin and staff to keep all of their weapons involved this week, including Johnson.

Projected Stat Line vs Baltimore: 4 Rec, 65 Yards, 1 TD

4. Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week Four Stats: 19/33, 213 Yards, 2 TD

Minshew had another great performance on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. While the stats may not be huge, what is important is that Minshew is making plays and not turning the ball over. Minshew made some beautiful throws last week including a touchdown pass to DJ Chark late in the second quarter that was called back due to a penalty. After two comeback wins this season Minshew has shown that he just might have what it takes to make it in the NFL. This week takes Minshew and the Jags to Carolina to face the Panthers who boast a very good pass defense, so look for a good matchup between these two teams this week.

Projected Stat Line vs Carolina: 20/35, 225 Yards, 2 TD

3. Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

Week Four Stats: 11 Car, 72 Yards, 2 Kick Returns, 77 Yards

Sanders had another big game against the Green Bay Packers. Sanders was able to once again show off the speed after bursting forward for a 30-yard gain. Sanders was also able to return two kicks for a total of 77 yards bringing him to 149 all-purpose yards on the night. Sanders has solidified himself as the number two behind Jordan Howard and together they put up a total of 159 rushing yards last Thursday. Next week the Eagles will be hosting the New York Jets who are still concerned about the health of key defenders, so look for Sanders to possibly grab his first NFL touchdown this week.

Projected Stat Line vs New York: 14 Car, 80 Yards, 1 TD

2. Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week Four Stats: 9 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 3 TFL, 1 PD

Bush took over Monday Night Football after putting on his best performance of his NFL career. He was dominant in both pass and rush defense including a sack and two more tackles for loss. While he didn’t lead the team this week in tackles with Mark Barron tallying eleven, Bush’s impact was felt as he had seven solo tackles and a pass defense. Bush also brought his tackle total to 37 and leads the Steelers defense in that category. This week the Baltimore Ravens will be coming to town, so look for Bush and the rest of the Steelers defense to capitalize after a tough week four for the Ravens.

Projected Stat Line vs Baltimore: 10 Total Tackles, 2 TFL

1. A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans

Week Four Stats: 3 Rec, 94 Yards, 2 TD

Brown flew out of the gate last week against the Atlanta Falcons with his first two receptions going for 55-yard and 11-yard touchdowns. Brown caught all three passes thrown his way and he made the most of them showing us once again his ability to quickly change direction and make a few guys miss along the way. While there seemed to be some defensive miss-communication on Brown’s first touchdown reception, credit is also due to the execution by Marcus Mariota to sell the play-action causing the Falcons linebackers to bite. This week brings the Buffalo Bills and a very good defense to town, so look for the Titans to try and keep their best playmakers involved this week.

Projected Stat Line vs Buffalo: 5 Rec, 70 Yards, 1 TD

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