NFL Rookies of the year so far

By Dan McLaughlin  @McGloogly @gridirongents @TLE_Sport

As we breeze past the half-way point in an NFL Season that feels like it will be over in the blink of an eye, this year’s Rookie draft has the potential to be one of the best ever.  All over the field of play, the newbies are pulling their considerable weight just as much as the gnarled veterans.  Now is as good a time as any to break down the class and see just how good this year’s new recruits have been.

The Best Position of this Year’s Rookie Draft Class is…

The Receivers: It feels that every Receiver that was highly rated in this year’s draft has performed exceptionally.  Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin, Odell Beckham Jr, Brandin Cooks, John Brown, Martevis Bryant, Davante Adams, Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews have all been outstanding.  Could this be the best Receiver Class of modern times?  If I had to pick a player to keep an eye on, I would say Odell Beckham Jr (no relation to David) looks the most talented.  Having started the season injured he has looked unstoppable in the last couple of weeks including an outstanding game against Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman, who, despite suffering a little this year, is still one of the top Cornerbacks in the game.  However, any one of these names could be good enough to finish the Season as Offensive Rookie of the Year.

A Close Second…

The Line-backers: The Line-backers from this year’s class might have actually been a more dominant unit than the Receivers – there are just fewer of them.  C.J Mosley, Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr have all become linchpins for their respective Defences.  Anthony Hitchins and Chris Borland have come in this season in place of injured players and performed admirably.  Ryan Shazier looked great on the Steelers Defence until he went down injured.  Perhaps Dee Ford for the Chiefs has been a little disappointing but in general this has been a group that has been solid, with Barr, Mosley and Mack all instantly coming into their teams and making an immediate impact.

A Decent Group…

The Defensive Backs: There have been a few standout players in the Defensive Backs this year.  Deone Bucannon, Kyle Fuller and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (what a name) have all looked great, breaking into their starting line-ups.  Bradley Roby and Jimmie Ward have also looked good taking the field as backups.  Before his injury Jason Verrett could have been the top Defensive back in the class.  He came into the Chargers team and immediately improved the Defense, leaving them fairly empty when he went down injured.  However the big disappointments from this group have to be Justin Gilbert and Calvin Pryor who have not lived up to their potential as 1st Round Draft pick.

A Couple of Bright Sparks…

The Offensive Line: Although on the whole the Rookie Offensive Linemen group hasn’t lived up to expectation, Zach Martin has had a stormer of a season and is a decent shout for Offensive Rookie of the year.  Taylor Lewan has been an instrumental part of a decent Titans Offensive Line, but has gone pretty much unnoticed thanks to how poor the rest of the team is.  Joel Bitonio has also looked decent, but has suffered since Alex Mack went down injured for the Browns.  Ja’Wuan James has looked good for the Dolphins, but might not be ready to take the Left Tackle position that has been thrust upon him thanks to Brandon Albert’s injury.  However for every decent player in this group, there has been a disappointment.  Greg Robinson has struggled to keep up with the pace of the NFL; Jake Matthews has struggled for the Atlanta Falcons and has been put in at Left Tackle way before he’s ready; Cyrus Kouandjio hasn’t adjusted to the NFL and has been displaced by fellow Rookie Lineman Seantrel Henderson.  What is worth noting however is that even the under-performers on this unit stand a pretty good chance of actually having decent careers, but it seems it might take a little longer.

The Downright Disappointing…

The Quarterbacks:  For all of the attention this unit attracted, they’ve failed to make a real difference to their teams. Out of this year’s QB crop, Derek Carr has looked the best and has made the most of some pretty awful weapons.  Teddy Bridgewater, Zach Mettenberger and Blake Bortles have all started for their teams but have failed to impress. Bortles seems to be far to ‘interception-happy’, Bridgewater has struggled behind a weak Offensive Line and Mettenberger has just blended in with the rest of a terrible Titans team.  But really the most disappointing player has been the one that demanded the biggest media circus, Johnny Manziel.  He failed to oust Brian Hoyer from the Cleveland Browns team and doesn’t look like he’s going to get a look-in any time soon.  This was the player that for a good chunk had the top jersey sales in the league.  All in all none of the Quarterbacks have lived up to the hype.

The Rest: Jace Amaro has probably been the top Tight End this Season as Eric Ebron has failed to make much of a difference on a disappointing Detroit Lions Offence.  The Defensive Line group was pretty weak this year with Timmy Jernigan and Aaron Donald looking like the only real stand out players.  However even in the weakened groups this draft class looks way better than last year’s, which saw Eric Fisher going no. 1 Draft pick to the Chiefs.

This really could be one of the best draft classes in my lifetime.  With Barr, Mosley, Evans, Watkins, Martin all leading the charge, there are so many players who are making a real difference to their teams. This could of course all change by the end of the season.  One thing is for certain though, this group is worth keeping an eye on in the final 6 games of the campaign.

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