NFL Rookie Rankings: Week One

Ethan Hewett | September 11th, 2019

Welcome to the first edition of our 2019 NFL Weekly Rookie Rankings! We will be taking a look at the previous week of football and showcasing 15 of the best rookie performances. Week one brought us a lot of offensive skill players who either showed their worth or surprised us and outperformed their expectations, including four pass-catchers eclipsing the century mark in yardage. Let us start with a couple of honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Byron Murphy, CB – With the suspension of Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy is stepping into a big role early on in his rookie campaign. While he didn’t necessarily drop any jaws, Murphy racked up a few tackles and made plays in the running game. Expect him to be competing for the second corner spot when Peterson returns.

Darnell Savage, S – Thursday night featured a much improved Green Bay Packers defense including the rookie safety Savage. Savage was all over the field and nearly had an interception to go along with his three tackles and a pass deflection. Savage was even used slightly in the pass rush, so expect him to continue to be a key part to this new Packers defense.

15. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Washington Redskins

Week One Stats: 5 Tackles, 1 TFL

Sweat looked pretty good in week one. On his first play, he used a really good speed to power move that nearly threw Philadelphia Eagles left tackle Jason Peters into Carson Wentz’s lap. Sweat also looked decent in the run game, showing his ability to penetrate the backfield and also showing that tight ends are useless against him. Week two should test his abilities as he will be taking on another really good offensive line in the Dallas Cowboys.

Projected Stat Line vs. Dallas: 4 tackles, 1 Sack

14. Devin White, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week One Stats: 6 Tackles

Of the two stud linebackers in week one, White was the lesser of the two. While this could be partly blamed on the fact that White is dealing with an illness, he also struggled a little bit in the passing game. This week will only get more difficult as the team will be taking on the Carolina Panthers as they face Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton, who can be a dangerous combination. All that being said, I do expect White to improve this week against Carolina.

Projected Stat Line vs. Carolina: 9 tackles, 1 TFL

13. D.K. Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

Week One Stats: 4 Rec, 89 Yards

We all knew the size was going to impress, and the hands were going to impress us as well in week one with Metcalf. But everyone wanted to see him show off his route running abilities. They were better than what most expected. He was able to establish good inside leverage on a couple of slant routes that resulted in good chunks of yardage. Metcalf also was able to show off the wheels on a 42-yard dime from Russell Wilson down the sideline. Week two against the Pittsburgh Steelers should be another interesting matchup as they struggled against the New England Patriots last week.

Projected Stat Line vs. Pittsburgh: 6 Rec, 100 Yards, 1 TD

12. Juan Thornhill, S, Kansas City Chiefs

Week One Stats: 8 Tackles

While there were a few things that could use improvement, Thornhill still was able to rack up eight tackles. Most of these tackles came in the run game and it is good to see a solid safety duo in Thornhill and Tyrann Mathieu who can assist where the Chiefs struggled badly last season. While there were a few bad angles taken on ball carriers or receivers, Thornhill is fast and should give some hope to a Kansas City secondary who look somewhat better, but still need to improve as they take on the Oakland Raiders in week two. The Raiders torched the Denver Broncos secondary this past weekend.

Projected Stat Line vs. Oakland: 6 Tackles, 1 PD

11. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Oakland Raiders

Week One Stats: 3 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 PD

Ferrell was considered one of the biggest reaches of the most recent NFL Draft, but Monday night he showed that he just might have been worth that fourth-overall pick. The Raiders were finally able to get some pressure on the opposing QB and this is partly thanks to Ferrell who notched his first NFL career sack and also knocked down a pass from Joe Flacco

Week two brings the Kansas City Chiefs to town, and if this past weekend was any testament to how they are going to protect Patrick Mahomes, we could see another multiple sack game from this Oakland defensive line and Ferrell could continue to impress.

Projected Stat Line vs. Kansas City: 4 Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 TFL

10. Johnathan Abram, S, Oakland Raiders

Week One Stats: 5 Tackles, 1 PD

This was an impressive safety class in week one. Abram was another case where he was all over the field. Not only did Abram provide good run support, but he also contributed in the passing game notching a pass deflection.  Looking ahead to week two, the Raiders will be hosting the Kansas City Chiefs who are still one of the best offenses in the league. This is going to be a tough challenge for the rookie safety, but I still expect Abram to have his moments.

Projected Stat Line vs Kansas City: 6 Tackles, 1 TFL

9. Gardner Minshew, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Week One Stats: 22/25, 275 Yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

While the events that allowed Minshew to step into the starting role in Jacksonville were not ideal with Nick Foles breaking his collarbone, Minshew was still able to put together a solid debut performance. He made some mistakes, but he also was able to make some nice throws including a 20-25 yard pass down the sideline that was placed perfectly.

This week Minshew and the Jags will be taking on the Houston Texans. We’ll see how well this Jacksonville offensive line can hold up against J.J. Watt and company, but if he’s protected well this could be another good game from Minshew.

Projected Stat Line vs. Houston: 23/32, 290 Yards, 2 TD

8. Devin Bush, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Week One Stats: 11 Tackles

Bush put on a tackling clinic Monday night against the New England Patriots. While this wasn’t enough as the Steelers lost 33-3, Bush did look good against the run as he used that speed to get from sideline to sideline.

While Bush did produce a lot of tackles, he left much to be desired in his coverage abilities and reading play-action, as there were a few plays in a row where Bush bit on the fake every time. All that considered, Bush will still make a good case for Defensive Rookie of the Year if he continues to put up these kind of tackling numbers in week two against the Seattle Seahawks.

Projected Stat Line vs. Seattle: 10 Tackles, 1 PD, 1 TFL

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

Week One Stats: 3 Rec, 100 Yards

Our second receiver out of Ole Miss comes to us as a big-bodied, fast receiver who put together a solid game against a very hyped-up Cleveland Browns defense. On Brown’s first reception he showed his ability to find the open space, and get yards after the catch, even breaking a couple of tackles along the way. While he only had three receptions this game, I expect Tennessee to be calling his name a lot more as the season progresses this week against the Indianapolis Colts.

Projected Stat Line vs. Indianapolis: 5 Rec, 89 yards, 1 TD

6. Josh Jacobs, RB, Oakland Raiders

Week One Stats: 23 Carries, 85 Yards, 2 TD, 1 Rec, 28 Yards

If you can’t tell, I like these Oakland rookies. Simply put, Josh Jacobs impressed in week one. As we expected, he is going to be the workhorse running back for this Oakland offense as he had 24 total touches with 23 of them being on the ground. Jacobs also became the first running back to have 100 total scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in a debut since 2001 (LaDainian Tomlinson). Week two presents another defense that still has some holes in their run defense in the Kansas City Chiefs. Expect Jacobs to get a lot of touches once again, and he will continue to put together a great rookie campaign.

Projected Stat Line vs. Kansas City: 18 Carries, 90 Yards, 1 TD, 3 Rec, 45 Yards

5. Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Week One Stats: 29/54, 308 Yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

The first three-quarters of Murray’s NFL debut left much to be desired. The Cardinals were only able to muster 6 points and Murray was 9/26 (34%) and only had 71 yards. However, Cardinals fans who stuck around for the 4th quarter would have seen one of the best comeback performances by a rookie quarterback in recent memory, including a couple of 40-yard dimes to veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald

The game also featured Murray’s first NFL touchdown being a 27-yard throw deep over the middle to David Johnson capping off an efficient and impressive drive in the 4th quarter. Week two will be a true test as Murray and the Cardinals will be taking on the Baltimore Ravens who are coming off a 59-10 blowout against the Miami Dolphins.

Projected Stat Line vs. Baltimore: 24/48, 250 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT

4. Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins

Week One Stats: 5 rec, 125 yards, 1 TD

McLaurin came out of nowhere this week and put up a great game against a pretty good Philadelphia Eagles defense. He showed off the speed early with his first NFL touchdown coming on a 70-yard bomb from Case Keenum.  McLaurin quickly had to step up into a big role for this Redskins offense, and while they didn’t win the game, he certainly didn’t disappoint and he gives some hope for a Washington fanbase that needs it as they head into week two against the Dallas Cowboys.

Projected Stat Line vs. Dallas: 6 Rec, 95 Yards

3. Nick Bosa, EDGE, San Francisco 49ers

Week One Stats: 3 Tackles, 1 Sack, 1 TFL

Don’t let the stat line fool you about Bosa against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While he may have only put up one sack, the impact that he was able to make was equivalent to what you would expect from the number two overall pick, including helping Dee Ford get his first sack in a 49ers uniform. Next week the 49ers take on the Cincinnati Bengals, whose offensive line was not the best in week one. This 49ers defensive line will most likely feast on Andy Dalton, who the Bengals will be relying on a lot with Joe Mixon dealing with an ankle injury.

Projected Stat Line vs. Cincinnati: 4 Tackles, 1.5 Sacks, 3 TFL

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

Week One Stats: 6 rec, 131 yards, 1 TD

Remember when Lions fans booed Hockenson after the team drafted him at number eight overall in the 2019 Draft? One could say that T.J. silenced the skeptics this week after shattering the record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a debut performance that was previously held by former 49ers TE Monty Stickles at 123 yards set in 1960. Hockenson was a stud in week one, outrunning linebackers and getting yards after the catch. I expect Detroit to continue to use him a lot this week against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Projected Stat Line vs. Los Angeles: 7 Rec, 100 Yards, 1 TD

1. Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Week One Stats: 4 rec, 147 yards, 2 TD

Brown, quite literally, exploded out of the gate in week one against the Miami Dolphins, showing off his speed with his first two receptions adding up to over 120 yards. Both of which he took to the house for six points. While many people questioned whether his smaller stature would hinder his NFL success, I would say for now at least, he has silenced the critics. This week won’t be much more of a challenge as this Ravens offense will be taking on a young and inexperienced Arizona Cardinals secondary.

Projected Stat Line vs. Arizona: 6 Rec, 110 Yards, 1 TD

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