On top of preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft, I’ll also be keeping up with the 2018 NFL rookie class. Each week I’ll put out a column for the 2019 NFL Draft and a separate one tracking the rookie class. The rookie coverage begins with my 2018 NFL rookie spectacular, which includes quarterback grades, award predictions, my All-Rookie team and rookie stat projections.

Preseason Rookie QB Grades

Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals

  • If you ignore the numbers and watch the tape, Josh Rosen was the most impressive rookie quarterback in the preseason. He looked like a seasoned vet going through progressions and making the correct reads. On multiple occasions he threaded the needle on tight window throws with perfect accuracy. Despite an awful offensive line in front of him, Rosen remained poised and took what he was able to from the defense. Most years a preseason like this from a rookie QB would earn them the starting job.

Grade: A-

Sam Darnold, New York Jets

  • Sam Darnold was the most poised of the rookie QBs in the preseason. His even-keel personality makes him the perfect QB to have in the New York market. Darnold consistently remained calm under pressure and held strong to make throws or keep plays alive with his legs. He was fearless in attacking the middle of the field and proved he’s ready to start in the NFL. It might be a bumpy rookie season, but he has the makeup of an NFL starter.

Grade: B+

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

  • No rookie QB was more fun to watch than Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was out there scrambling, making big throws and generally igniting the Browns offense. In most situations, he has done enough to start, but Tyrod Taylor didn’t do anything to lose the QB1 job. Mayfield showed off his consistent accuracy and strong velocity throughout preseason. He spreads the ball around like no other rookie QB. Mayfield is the perfect fit for the Browns offense with his style and swagger.

Grade: B+

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

  • What started as a rocky preseason for Lamar Jackson ended on a high note. He got better throughout the preseason and looked more and more comfortable. Early on he looked uncomfortable in the pocket and would get happy feet. By the Ravens’ fourth and fifth preseason games, he was able to sit in the pocket and pick apart the defense. Jackson’s ability to make plays with his leg adds a needed element to Baltimore’s offense. The longer he’s there the better he’ll get. If Baltimore builds its offense around his strengths, the sky is the limit.

Grade: B

Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

  • There’s no denying Josh Allen is an exciting QB to watch. He made several deep throws that few in the NFL can make, but at the end of the day he still looked like a huge project. Allen struggled with accuracy and touch throughout the preseason and never seemed to find a rhythm. He was under duress a ton because the Bills offensive line is awful. The biggest positive was Allen’s ability to move in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield. He doesn’t look ready to start.

Grade: C

Rookie Awards

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

  • It’s tough to choose anybody else. Saquon Barkley is the most talented rookie in the NFL and should have every opportunity to put up huge numbers for the Giants. It’s not crazy to expect him to top 1,500 total yards and 10 touchdowns if he stays healthy.

Dark horse contender: Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears

  • A lot of the time, the height-weight-speed rookie receivers take longer to adjust to the NFL than the technicians. Luckily for the Bears, Anthony Miller is a technician. He’s a clean route runner who fights for every ball. With Matt Nagy calling the plays, Miller could put up impressive numbers.

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos

  • Like Barkley, it’s pretty much impossible to pick against Bradley Chubb here. He’s a complete edge rusher and the most talented rookie defender. Chubb has multiple pass rush moves, grown-man strength and a hot motor. Oh yeah, he’s also playing opposite Von Miller, so he’ll rarely be keyed in on.

Dark horse contender: Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers

  • Athletic linebackers are needed in today’s NFL, and Fred Warner is exactly that. At BYU he played an overhang defender role despite being a linebacker — that’s how athletic he is. Warner should play a lot and rack up tons of tackles. Sticking him next to Reuben Foster is flat-out awesome.

Best QB: Josh Rosen, Arizona Cardinals

Best RB: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Best WR: Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons

Best TE: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

Best OL: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts

Best IDL: Nathan Shepherd, New York Jets

Best EDGE: Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos

Best LB: Roquan Smith, Chicago Bears

Best CB: Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns

Best S: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins

Projected All-Rookie Team

Position Player Team Round/Pick
QB Sam Darnold New York Jets 1st/3rd
RB Saquon Barkley New York Giants 1st/2nd
RB Royce Freeman Denver Broncos 3rd/71st
WR Calvin Ridley Atlanta Falcons 1st/26th
WR DJ Moore Carolina Panthers 1st/24th
WR Anthony Miller Chicago Bears 2nd/51st
TE Dallas Goedert Philadelphia Eagles 2nd/49th
OT Mike McGlinchey San Francisco 49ers 1st/9th
OT Brian O’Neill Minnesota Vikings 2nd/62nd
OG Quenton Nelson Indianapolis Colts 1st/6th
OG Connor Williams Dallas Cowboys 2nd/50th
C Billy Price Cincinnati Bengals 1st/21st
EDGE Bradley Chubb Denver Broncos 1st/5th
IDL Da’Ron Payne Washington 1st/13th
IDL Nathan Shepherd New York Jets 3rd/72nd
EDGE Harold Landry Tennessee Titans 2nd/41st
LB Fred Warner San Francisco 49ers 3rd/70th
LB Roquan Smith Chicago Bears 1st/8th
LB Tremaine Edmunds Buffalo Bills 1st/16th
CB Denzel Ward Cleveland Browns 1st/4th
NB Jaire Alexander Green Bay Packers 1st/18th
S Derwin James Los Angeles Chargers 1st/17th
S Minkah Fitzpatrick Miami Dolphins 1st/11th
CB Josh Jackson Green Bay Packers 2nd/45th
K Daniel Carlson Minnesota Vikings 5th/167th
P Michael Dickson Seattle Seahawks 5th/149th
RS Christian Kirk Arizona Cardinals 2nd/47th
ST Shaquem Griffin Seattle Seahawks 5th/141st

Rookie Stat Leaders

Rookie QB leaders:

QB Team Completion % Passing yards (YPA) TD:INT Rating Ruhsing yards/TDs
Sam Darnold New York Jets 62.2% 2,835 (6.3) 18:12 82.4 240/2
Josh Rosen Arizona Cardinals 64.2% 1,848 (6.6) 12:6 88.5 26/0
Baker Mayfield Cleveland Browns 64.9 1,414 (6.8) 10:4 92.5 160/3
Josh Allen Buffalo Bills 53.7% 1,388 (6.2) 6:6 70.3 200/1
Lamar Jackson Baltimore Ravens 57.6% 507 (6.5) 4:2 83.6 157/2

Rookie RB leaders:

RB Team Rushing yards (YPA) Receiving yards Total TDs
Saquon Barkley New York Giants 1,120 (4.5) 384 10
Royce Freeman Denver Broncos 800 (4.2) 240 8
Kerryon Johnson Detroit Lions 720  (4.3) 288 6
Jordan Wilkins Indianapolis Colts 672 (4.4) 215 5
Ronald Jones Tampa Bay Buccaneers 512 (4.0) 145 3
Nick Chubb Cleveland Browns 480 (4.2) 80 6
Sony Michel New England Patriots 400 (4.5) 320 4
Rashaad Penny Seattle Seahawks 352 (3.8) 150 4
John Kelly Los Angeles Rams 320 (4.7) 120 2
Nyheim Hines Indianapolis Colts 160 (4.4) 320 0

Rookie WR leaders:

WR Team Receptions Receiving yards AVG TDs
Calvin Ridley Atlanta Falcons 58 725 12.5 4
DJ Moore Carolina Panthers 64 717 11.2 5
Christian Kirk Arizona Cardinals 52 536 10.3 2
Anthony Miller Chicago Bears 45 504 11.2 4
Courtland Sutton Denver Broncos 30 420 14.0 5
James Washington Pittsburgh Steelers 28 420 15.0 3
Michael Gallup Dallas Cowboys 25 300 12.0 2
Dante Pettis San Francisco 49ers 22 297 13.5 4
DJ Chark Jacksonville Jaguars 15 270 18.0 2
Tre’Quan Smith New Orleans Saints 20 268 13.4 3

Rookie TE leaders:

TE Team Receptions Receiving yards AVG TDs
Dallas Goedert Philadelphia Eagles 28 378 13.5 3
Mike Gesicki Miami Dolphins 22 308 14.0 5
Hayden Hurst Baltimore Ravens 24 252 10.5 2
Mark Andrews Baltimore Ravens 20 240 12.0 1
Ian Thomas Carolina Panthers 15 210 14.0 2

Rookie IDL leaders:

IDL Team Tackles TFLs Sacks
Da’Ron Payne Washington 48 3.5 1
Nathan Shepherd New York Jets 40 5 2.5
PJ Hall Oakland Raiders 38 5 3.5
BJ Hill New York Giants 35 4 0.5
Vita Vea Tampa Bay Buccaneers 32 2.5 3
Mo Hurst Oakland Raiders 24 4.5 3.5

Rookie EDGE leaders:

EDGE Team Tackles TFLs Sacks
Bradley Chubb Denver Broncos 72 10.5 5.5
Rasheem Green Seattle Seahawks 45 6.5 3.5
Harold Landry Tennessee Titans 30 7 6.5
Arden Key Oakland Raiders 25 5 4.5
Marcus Davenport New Orleans Saints 22 3.5 2.5

Rookie LB leaders:

LB Team Tackles TFLs Sacks INTs
Roquan Smith Chicago Bears 104 4.5 2 2
Tremaine Edmunds Buffalo Bills 94 6 3.5 1
Fred Warner San Francisco 49ers 86 2.5 0.5 3
Darius Leonard Indianapolis Colts 78 3 1.5 0
Rashaan Evans Tennessee Titans 56 5 2.5 0

Rookie CB leaders:

CB Team Tackles INTs Pdef
Jaire Alexander Green Bay Packers 52 2 8
Denzel Ward Cleveland Browns 44 3 10
Mike Hughes Minnesota Vikings 38 1 6
Josh Jackson Green Bay Packers 36 4 8
Donte Jackson Carolina Panthers 32 2 9

Rookie S leaders:

S Team Tackles INTs Pdef TFLs
Derwin James Los Angeles Chargers 77 2 6 4.5
Minkah Fitzpatrick Miami Dolphins 68 1 8 5.5
Justin Reid Houston Texans 56 2 5 2.5
Jordan Whitehead Tampa Bay Buccaneers 52 0 4 3
Jessie Bates III Cincinnati Bengals 45 2 5 1

Best Rookie on Every Team

Arizona Cardinals- Josh Rosen, QB

  • He might not play right away, but Josh Rosen is NFL-ready. He’s an accurate and poised passer who can make every throw. The Cardinals lucked out on getting him.

Atlanta Falcons- Calvin Ridley, WR

  • Even as the third receiver in the Falcons offense, Calvin Ridley should have a major impact. He’s incredibly smooth with his footwork and adds a ton of playmaking ability out of the slot.

Baltimore Ravens- Lamar Jackson, QB

  • If we’re lucky, we’ll see Lamar Jackson start some games at the end of the season. He might not play much, but he’s the future and finally gives Baltimore an offensive identity.

Buffalo Bills- Tremaine Edmunds, LB

  • Sean McDermott had a ton of playmaking LBs in Carolina, now he has one of his own. Tremaine Edmunds is a freak with size, versatility and athleticism.

Carolina Panthers- DJ Moore, WR

  • DJ Moore is what Carolina needed. He’s a feisty WR who loves to make plays after the catch. His athleticism is off the charts and finally gives them Steve Smith’s replacement.

Chicago Bears- Roquan Smith, LB

  • Da Bears are known for monstrous linebackers, and Roquan Smith completes Vic Fangio’s defense. His instincts are incredible and he has sideline-to-sideline speed.

Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, C

  • The Bengals OL needed a new identity and that’s why they took Billy Price. He’s a powerful anchor in the middle of the offensive line who finishes every play.

Cleveland Browns- Denzel Ward, CB

  • Baker Mayfield wont start the season, but Denzel Ward will. He’s Cleveland’s top corner and his movement skills are elite. Ward was the missing piece for this defense.

Dallas Cowboys- Connor Williams, OG

  • Adding a stud to an offensive line with three All-Pro’s is crazy. Connor Williams is a converted tackle moving to guard. He’s as mean as they come and has Pro Bowl ability.

Denver Broncos- Bradley Chubb, EDGE

  • No question here. Bradley Chubb is going to change this defense. His power, motor and handwork are perfect compliments to Von Miller. Chubb and Miller are a scary pair.

Detroit Lions- Frank Ragnow, OL

  • The Lions offense is shifting in a new direction and it starts with the OL. Ragnow is a plug-and-play lineman who will start at guard. He’s big, mean and technically sound.

Green Bay Packers- Jaire Alexander, CB

  • Cornerback play is important in Mike Pettine’s defense and Jaire Alexander should shine. Alexander is feisty and can play inside at nickel or outside at corner.

Houston Texans- Justin Reid, DB

  • It’s not everyday you get a DB in the third-round who can play everything from cornerback to linebacker. Justin Reid has a high ceiling and should play all over.

Indianapolis Colts- Quenton Nelson, OG

  • Keeping Andrew Luck healthy is the Colts’ #1 goal and that starts with Quenton Nelson. Nelson is a freak who has no holes in his game. He makes the whole OL better.

Jacksonville Jaguars- DJ Chark, WR

  • There’s no clear rookie that will play in Jacksonville. Marqise Lee’s injury opens up time for DJ Chark. Chark is a deep threat with impressive ball tracking ability.

Kansas City Chiefs- Derrick Nnadi, IDL

  • It seems the Chiefs keep drafting developmental players. Derrick Nnadi is the only one ready to play as a rookie. He’ll do a good job as their starting nose when given the chance.

Los Angeles Chargers- Derwin James, S

  • Gus Bradley has a stacked defense and now adds Derwin James as his newest weapon. James can play anywhere. He’s an elite athlete and a fierce hitter on the backend.

Los Angeles Rams- John Kelly, RB

  • With a weak draft it’s hard to find a Rams rookie that will contribute. John Kelly is an ideal backup to Gurley. He’s a rugged bowling ball of a runner with receiving ability.

Miami Dolphins- Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB

  • There’s no smarter rookie defender than Minkah Fitzpatrick. He’s the new QB of the Dolphins defense. Whether he plays safety or nickel, he’s going to be a tremendous addition.

Minnesota Vikings- Mike Hughes, CB

  • A rich defense gets richer with Mike Hughes. Hughes is an ideal fit as the Vikings nickel. He’s a great athlete and an aggressive defensive back. Mike Zimmer will love his skill set.

New England Patriots- Sony Michel, RB

  • No New England running back is safe, especially when they’re a rookie, but Sony Michel is dynamic. He has everything the Patriots like, he just needs a chance to be their top guy.

New Orleans Saints- Tre’Quan Smith, WR

  • With few Saints rookies ready to make an impact, keep an eye on Tre’Quan Smith. He’s a big downfield threat and should make plays when on the field. He’s a future starter.

New York Giants- Saquon Barkley, RB

  • This was easy. Saquon Barkley should hit the ground running for the Giants. He’s got the ability to be the best pass-catching RB in the NFL and a top-end runner.

New York Jets- Sam Darnold, QB

  • He’s the youngest starting QB in NFL history and Sam Darnold looks damn poised. He’ll go through growing pains, but his ability to attack the middle of the field is impressive.

Oakland Raiders- Arden Key, EDGE

  • The Khalil Mack trade paves the way for Arden Key to be the Raiders best rookie. With an explosive first step and the bend needed to rush the passer, Key should play a lot.

Philadelphia Eagles- Dallas Goedert, TE

  • Philadelphia enjoys using two tight ends to create mismatches for defenses. Dallas Goedert is a big and athletic pass catcher who does his best work downfield.

Pittsburgh Steelers- James Washington, WR

  • No team is better at drafting and developing non-first round receivers than Pittsburgh. James Washington should end up their third guy and be a big play threat all season.

San Francisco 49ers- Fred Warner, LB

  • Again, John Lynch has a bunch of talented rookies, but this is about who will be on the field the most. Fred Warner is a super athletic LB who doesn’t shy away from contact.

Seattle Seahawks- Michael Dickson, P

  • Yes, a punter. Michael Dickson is the best punter prospect ever. His booming leg and coffin corner accuracy will help Seattle win the field position game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Carlton Davis, CB

  • Tampa has a slew of rookies that should see the field, but none have a clearer role than Carlton Davis. Davis is a big outside press corner, the only one the Bucs have.

Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, EDGE

  • Nobody is sure how Harold Landry fell to the second round, but the Titans cashed in. He’s the most naturally gifted rookie pass rusher and should find a role early.

Washington- Da’Ron Payne, IDL

  • Despite overdrafting Payne, Washington is using him correctly in a nose tackle role. He should anchor the middle of their defensive line and help clean up the run defense.

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Author Details
Vice President of Media | The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.
Vice President of Media | The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.


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