We do a lot of draft work here at GGN, it's something I'm particularly proud of and it's something that generates a lot of discussion for our readers. Before the New York Jets step up to the podium to make their selection, we analyze and discuss prospects.
People have their favorite prospects and people have prospects they don't like, it's always a very opinionated time of the year. However I have a tendency to watch all first round rookies as much as possible, that really is the only excuse for watching the Titans and Bucs so much. I find it interesting to see who makes immediate impact and who finds it hard to get their NFL legs underneath them. So I thought I'd pen this article to give an overall impression of how the first round rookies are doing this year. Hopefully you find it as interesting as I do.
This isn't going to be the shortest article, so if you want to go and grab a coffee....you go right ahead.
Jameis Winston - QB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
142/246, 57.7% completion, 1897 yards, 10 TD, 7 INT, 14 sacks. 27 rushes, 113 yards, 3 TD, 4 Fumbles, 1 Lost
It's been a relatively strong start for Jameis. He has turned the ball over as you would expect from a rookie signal caller who was prone to the turnover in college. He's shown a lot of heart and he's made a handful of plays with his legs. His receivers have not helped him, with Tampa Bay registering 17 dropped passes through 8 games. it's worth noting that Winston has not thrown an interception over his last 4 games and if you take out his horrible performance against Carolina (4 interceptions) his stat line looks respectable.
Marcus Mariota - QB - Tennessee Titans
131/200, 65.5%, 1610 yards, 13 TD, 5 INT, 19 sacks. 11 rushes, 77 yards, 0 TD, 5 Fumbles, 4 Lost
Another rookie QB who has gotten off to a good start in the NFL. He has been a little banged up this year, and the Tennessee offensive line is just horrendous. He's already experienced a coaching change in his young career, but he's performed well. He had a superb 4 touchdown performance against the Saints and he's already had two 350+ yard games for the Titans. He hasn't run as much as some would expect, but I do think he's been very impressive. He should have an interception or two more, and he's got lucky at times, but his talent level is off the charts. Mariota has had 9 dropped passes this year.
Dante Fowler, Jr. - DE - Jacksonville Jaguars
Season ending IR. Will not appear in a game in 2015
I was so excited to see Dante Fowler Jr perform and boy did the Jaguars need him this year. Unfortunately for him, he tore his ACL on the first day of mini-camp before he had even signed his contract. It was a tough break for Fowler and the Jaguars. He will be ready for next season and It'll be interesting to see how this injury effects him.
Amari Cooper - WR - Oakland Raiders
45 receptions, 653 yards, 14.5 yard average. 4 TD's, 1 Fumble.. 8 Dropped Fumbles
Cooper has been extremely impressive over the first 8 games of his career. He has experienced a case of the dropsies but he's also shown why he was considered by many to be the most effective and polished route runner in the draft class. He's also gained 326 yards after the catch, which is extremely impressive. Carr is completing 66% of his passes when throwing Coopers way and personally I think he'll continue to get better and better. Oakland have a good offensive core, now they just need to sort out their defense and specifically, their pass defense.
Brandon Scherff - OT - Washington Redskins
8 Games Started. 1 Sack , 6 QB Hits, 18 QB Hits allowed. 2 Penalties
As expected, the first thing Washington did following the draft was to convert Brandon from a left tackle (at Iowa) to a right tackle in pre-season and then to a right guard before the season opened. He's appeared in all 8 games at right guard. Scherff got off to a great start against the Dolphins and Suh, and then continued that through the majority of the season. Washington found success running to the right behind Brandon and right tackle Morgan Moses. He's slowed down a little lately, especially over the last three games but he's still having a solid season.
Leonard Williams - DE - New York Jets
27 tackles, 1 sack, 11 QB hits, 16 QB hurries, 2 missed tackles, 407 total snaps
Many considered Williams to be the steal of the draft, and despite him being a little quiet recently, he has been a real plus point on this Jets team. PFF ranks him extremely highly and he has been exceptionally effective stuffing the run. There is work to be done with rushing the passer, but I've been extremely impressed with what Williams has been able to bring to the Jets. If he gets his hands on you, he's nearly always bringing you down. He is a handful, and will only get better. He filled the hole left by Sheldon Richardson at the start of the year very well.
Kevin White - WR - Chicago Bears
Yet to appear due to a shin injury
It's been a very frustrating start to his career for White. After signing his rookie deal, White reported a shin injury . He returned to action in the pre-season only to suffer a stress fracture in his shin that required surgery. White was placed on the PUP list and has yet to play a single snap in the NFL. He may come back this year, but odds are you'll need to wait until 2016 to see the big wide receiver.
Vic Beasley - OLB - Atlanta Falcons
19 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 2 pass defenses. 4 QB hits, 18 QB hurries. 0 missed tackles. 324 snaps
There is no question that Beasley has an enormous amount of talent and he's been effective in spurts this year. He's played some excellent run defense, and his tackling has been exceptional. His speed is always a threat, but he's not been able to convert those hurries into sacks yet, but the Atlanta pass rush isn't exactly filled with talent. Some Falcon fans are a little down on him, but most are excited about his potential. He made a big play on Sunday and I imagine he'll make several big plays over the course of his career. Solid and steady start.
Ereck Flowers - OT - New York Giants
1 sack, 8 QB hits, 23 QB hurries, -15.6 overall rating by PFF. 517 snaps.
With the pre-season injury to Will Beatty, Ereck Flowers stepped straight in to the starting left tackle position. He has struggled at times in pass protection and it's always rough for a rookie lineman to come in and play left tackle. he has been penalized 6 times this year and although his run blocking has been solid, his pass protection leaves a lot to be desired. I can't imagine Flowers will stay at right tackle, it would make more sense for the Giants to move Flowers to right and then start Beatty when he comes off the PUP list at LT.
Todd Gurley - RB - St Louis Rams
118 rushes, 664 yards, 5.6 yard average, 4 TD's. 13 catches, 88 yards, 23 missed/broken tackles
The Rams took a chance taking Gurley coming off an ACL injury. They brought him along slowly, and then he exploded with a combination of patience, power and speed. He really is one of the most impressive athletes I've ever seen play the game. He has game breaking ability and his ability to either avoid or break tackles is eye opening. He has been as good as advertised, if not better. He had four consecutive 100 yard games before the Vikings held him to 89 yards. He's special.
Trae Waynes - CB - Minnesota Vikings
11 tackles, 9 receptions allowed, 63 yards allowed. 0 TD's allowed, 0 INT, 1 PD - 85 total snaps
Waynes was the first corner selected in the 2015 NFL draft, but he's found breaking into the Vikings secondary very difficult this year. He really hasn't had much time to shine though, he played 42 snaps in week three, but since that day his highest total was 11 snaps until he filled in against St Louis this past weekend following the injury to Terence Newman. By all accounts he played well, despite Nick Foles targeting him straight away. Vikings fans like what they've seen, they just haven't seen a great deal.
Danny Shelton - DT - Cleveland Browns
0 sacks, 0 QB hits, 3 QB hurries, 15 tackles, 0 misses tackles
Things haven't quite gone to plan for Shelton or the Cleveland Browns. The hope was the big man would come in and drastically improve the NFL's worst rushing defense from 2014, that just hasn't happened. Cleveland are struggling defensively and Shelton is struggling too. Danny has admitted himself that he'll need to improve and concentrate on his technique to really make a difference. He's been graded negatively by PFF and the Browns fans I talk to haven't been all that impressed with their first overall selection.
Andrus Peat - OT - New Orleans Saints
1 sack, 1 QB hit, 3 QB hurries, +1.3 PFF rating. 105 snaps
Peat has struggled this year with a knee injury and missed several games while rehabbing that injury in the middle of October. Before his injury he had played sparingly, a few snaps here, a few snaps there. He had his first start in week five, and it came at left tackle. He was OK, I think that's the best way to describe it. Will he stick at LT or will he move to RT, he's appeared at both positions so far this season. He'll continue to get some snaps here and there and maybe a start here and there as well, but it's been a quiet year for him so far.
DeVante Parker - WR - Miami Dolphins
4 receptions, 49 yards, 0 TD's, 5 yards after the catch. 110 snaps
Parker was expected to come in and improve the Miami offense immediately, especially in the red-zone. That hasn't really happened, following foot surgery in the off-season, Parker has failed to establish himself as a viable receiver and lacks any real chemistry with QB Ryan Tannehill. Unfortunately for Parker he aggravated his foot injury against New England last Sunday, and that caused him to miss the game against Buffalo on Sunday. It remains to be seen if he can make any real impact on the Dolphins disappointing 2015 season.
Melvin Gordon - RB - San Diego Chargers
114 attempts, 413 yards, 3.6 yards per carry, 0 TD. 21 receptions, 118 yards. 4 Fumbles, 3 Lost
Gordon hasn't had a great season, but the Chargers have been hit with several key injuries to their offense and the shuffling of their offensive line has prevented them from really establishing a run game. Gordon is also averaging just over 15 touches per game, which isn't enough for your star first round running back. Gordon has shown signs of explosion with a couple of 20+ yard plays, but he hasn't consistently put it together like Gurley has. With the Chargers season going down the toilet, they may as well feed him the ball more to see what we can truly do.
Kevin Johnson - CB - Houston Texans
19 receptions, 274 yards, 3 touchdowns allowed. 1 interception, 3 passes defended, 28 tackles
The Houston defense has been an absolute mess this season and although Johnson hasn't been perfect, he's actually been OK. He's started at both corner and safety this year, and that's not easy for a rookie to do. He has allowed some touchdowns, but he's prevented some big plays as well. I don't know where his future is, it could be at safety (more likely) or it could be at corner. A lot of Texans fans are excited about his potential, and it's easy to see why.
Arik Armstead - DE - San Francisco 49'ers
1 sack, 3 QB hits, 17 QB hurries. 7 tackles. 1 missed tackle
The entire San Francisco defensive line has struggled this year and although Armstead has only played sparingly, he's done a lot of things well. He does need to work on his recognition and technique, but his motor has impressed 49'ers defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, who's openly said that Arik is pushing for more playing time. He's a big man who's pressured the QB well this year, even if he hasn't got the sacks to prove it. If the 49'ers fall further behind, I expect his snap count to go up significantly. Right now he's around the 24% mark overall.
Marcus Peters - CB - Kansas City Chiefs
43 receptions, 577 yards, 7 touchdowns allowed. 3 INT, 12 PD, 33 tackles, 5 missed tackles.
it's not easy coming into the league and starting at corner, that's a well known fact in the NFL. Peters started the season on fire, making plays on the ball and intercepting a pass in his first two games as a professional. However his aggressiveness has been exploited by QB's recently. He will always try and make a play on the ball, but sometimes he will get beat and that's something you have to expect from rookie corners. He has started every game for Kansas and he does look to have star potential, but I'm not buying a ticket on the hype train just yet.
Cameron Erving - C/G - Cleveland Browns
34 snaps.0 sacks, 0 hits, 1 QB hurry.
Obviously with Mack in Cleveland, Erving wasn't going to see time at C this season. However many expect that to be his final position. He has seen a little bit of time at both LG/RG and even at RT, but the sample size is too small to even make a small judgement on his ability.
Nelson Agholor - WR - Philadelphia Eagles
8 receptions, 105 yards, 0 TD. -7.5 PFF rating, 1 dropped pass, 1 fumble.
Many expected Nelson to lug into that high tempo offense in Philadelphia and perform immediately, that hasn't happened. After a number of off-season moves, the Eagles are only just starting to look like their normal selves. Unfortunately for Agholor, there are 4 other receivers in Philadelphia that are gaining more snaps than him, at least on the season. He has yet to record his first NFL touchdown and he's only catching 50% of the passes that are coming his way. It seems as though he'll need a little longer to develop.
Cedric Ogbuehi - OT - Cincinnati Bengals
Has not played in a single game
Cedric tore his ACL in college and although he's been healthy for a while, he's spent the entire season on the non-football injury list. The Bengals have experienced some very good offensive line play, so they can afford to have their #1 draft pick take him time coming back from such an injury, making mental notes and improving his knowledge of the game. It's unclear if the Bengals will activate Ogbuehi or place him on IR, practically providing him with a red-shirt season to learn and improve.
Bud Dupree - OLB - Pittsburgh Steelers
16 tackles, 4 sacks, 0 hits, 10 QB hurries. 1 missed tackle. -7.2 rating
Dupree can say that in his first ever NFL game, he sacked one of the greatest ever NFL QB's in Tom Brady. I catch a fair few Pittsburgh games as a close friend of mine is a Steelers fan and I'm a lot higher on Bud than PFF. Dupree has appeared in around 50% of the Steelers defensive snaps, and his pass rush production has been very good based on that alone. Steelers coaches rave about how smart he is and how quickly he has picked up the system. As a pure pass rusher, he could be very exciting over the next few years.
Shane Ray - OLB - Denver Broncos
4 tackles, 2 sacks, QB hits, 3 QB hurries, 0 missed tackles.
Ray was doing well as a situation pass rusher before tearing his MCL. He did return to practice this week and with Ware being ruled out for the next 2-4 weeks, Ray could see his playing time increase if he can prove he's healthy enough to play. It's hard to make a judgement on Ray because he's only played 99 snaps this season, however he's shown an ability to disrupt the QB in limited time. The Broncos have one of the best defenses in the NFL, if not the best, so he'll have plenty of opportunities to make some plays.
D.J Humphries - OT - Arizona Cardinals
Has not appeared in any NFL games
I can't help but think that DJ is going to be a complete flop, and that's completely unfair. I know that. He was truly horrible in the pre-season and he came under a lot of scrutiny as Arizona head coach Bruce Arians commented that you needed to really keep on him every single day to keep him motivated. He's actually got the nickname "Knee Deep" because you need to keep a knee in his backside every day to keep him motivated. Apparently he is starting to work harder and slowly starting to get it...I worry about a rookie who needs motivation.
Shaq Thompson - OLB - Carolina Panthers
21 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QB hit, 1 QB hurry. 4 missed tackles. 190 snaps
Shaq has slowly put together a very nice season, and he was starting to really hit his stride when a knee injury took him out of a week 6 contest. He did come back in week 9, but he only played 5 snaps. He should be good to go this weekend however. Carolina coaches and players love Thompson due to his work ethic, and his commitment to getting better. Carolina are blessed with a good core of linebackers, and Thompson will have a great opportunity to learn from them and become a better player.
Breshad Perriman - WR - Baltimore Ravens
Has not played this season
Another wide receiver who hasn't been able to impact his struggling team. He went down on the first day of practise with a sprained PCL and he hasn't been seen since. He isn't practicing and it seems likely he'll be placed on IR if he can't hit the field in the next week or so. The strange thing is, a PCL strain shouldn't take this long and there was a hint of frustration in John Harbaugh's voice when he said this was the slowest healing sprained PCL ever.
Byron Jones - CB - Dallas Cowboys
31 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 interceptions, 6 passes defended. 4 missed tackles. 1 TD allowed 342 snaps.
Byron Jones has split time between CB and safety, although 270 of his snaps have come at the safety position. He's been called one of the best rookies in the class, he's shown to have excellent coverage skills and he's earned his starting spot in the base defense. I really like Jones as a prospect and he's a reliable last line of defense despite the 4 missed tackles that PFF attribute to him. Dallas have themselves a real player here and I fully expect him to continue to improve.
Laken Tomlinson - G - Detroit Lions
1 sack, 4 hits, 12 QB pressures allowed. 3 penalties. 458 snaps.
Tomlinson was forced into action on opening night due to an injury to Warford and he looked completely lost. He then had to wait until week four to get meaningful reps and although he was highly inconsistent in the pass block game, he was opening up some good holes on the ground. He's continued to get better as the season progressed and now I'd consider him a relatively reliable guard. He seems to play with good leverage in the run game, and although he needs to improve his technique in the passing game, he'll be a staple on that Lions offensive line next year.
Phillip Dorsett - WR - Indianapolis Colts
11 receptions, 167 yards, 1 touchdown. 31 yards after the catch, 1 dropped catch
A lot of people thought Dorsett would come in and be a TY Hilton straight away, with his elite explosion and his ability to track the deep ball, many expected Andrew Luck to have a new favorite target. It never quite worked that way for Dorsett who found it difficult to get into the game plan as Indianapolis looked for the answer to their offensive woes. Just as he was starting to break through, he suffered a fracture in his lower leg that required surgery. Dorsett is out for 4-6 weeks, and while he should be back by the end of the year, his rookie season has been quite disappointing.
Damarious Randall - CB - Green Bay Packers
31 tackles, 2 interceptions. 2 TD's allowed, 7 pass defenses. +5.3 rating on PFF
Randall has quietly become one of the most impressive rookies in this class. He's picked off passes in back-to-back games and he looks to be a real cover man at the bottom of the first round. He has allowed nearly 400 receiving yards into his coverage and he is liable for a big play here and then, but QB's are completing less than 50% of their passes throwing into his coverage. He has all the makings of a top corner, he just needs to add a little consistency to his game and cut out some of the big plays he allows.
Stephone Anthony - ILB - New Orleans Saints
64 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 QB hit, 2 QB hurries. 9 Missed tackles. 5 TD's allowed
The New Orleans defense has been terrible, and that's putting it lightly. It's not easy being a rookie and coming straight into the heart of a defense. Anthony has shown flashes of being a good insider linebacker but that has been overshadowed by his missed tackles and his lack of coverage ability. He has allowed 30 receptions into his coverage, including 5 touchdowns. He strikes me as someone who will get a lot of tackles, because he has a good nose for the ball. However it's hard to judge one player when the defense as a whole is a complete mess.
Malcolm Brown - DT - New England Patriots
17 tackles, 1 sack, 0 QB hits, 6 QB hurries, 1 missed tackle. - 3.0 PFF rating
Brown hasn't been bad this year, he just hasn't been that great either. He has been effective against the run however, with the Patriots having one of the better units in the league. I mean Washington had 37 rushing yards against the Patriots and Brown this weekend, so he must be doing something right. I didn't think he looked very good at the start of the season, but he seems to be getting better and better as the weeks go on. The Patriots are undefeated so everyone in New England is happy.
- Thanks for sticking with me through that. I honestly didn't intend for this to be nearly 4000 words long, but sometimes these things happen. if you're still awake, grab yourself a well deserved drink....soft or alcoholic depending on your age. I hope you enjoyed the little run down, and if it is received well, I'll make a note to do a similar article at the end of the season.