After a slow Week 9 for rookie performances the Browns went ahead and set the standard for rookie play in Week 10. Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb were the big storylines, but the usual studs showed up too. Derwin James, Darius Leonard, and Leighton Vander Esch all continued their dominant rookie seasons. The rookie power rankings saw some major risers and sliders this week.
Rookie of the Week
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns/Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
- It’s just too hard to pick one of Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb, so it’s a copout and they share the rookie of the week honor. In the Browns 28-16 win over the Falcons both Mayfield and Chubb were at their best. Mayfield showed terrific ability on play-action passes and had consistent ball placement on all levels. He played with poise and was quick through his progressions. This was the best rookie QB performance of the season. As for Nick Chubb, he looked like pre-injury Georgia Chubb. He broke an explosive 92-yard TD and was consistently creating yards after contact. Chubb’s ability to run inside for tough yards and outside for chunk runs was an asset. Mayfield threw for 216 yards and three TDs while completing 85% of his passes for 10.8 YPA. Chubb had 209 total yards on 23 touches for two TDs. Both were spectacular.
Week 10 Rookie Power Rankings
*In brackets is where the rookie ranked last week
Derwin James, Defensive Weapon, Los Angeles Chargers (1)
- We are now 10 weeks into the NFL season and Derwin James has been in the top spot of the rookie power rankings for all 10 weeks. That’s damn impressive. How did he fall to the 17th pick? Nobody will ever know. Against the Raiders, James was an enforcer both vs the run and pass. He was blowing people up. Of his nine tackles, four were major run stops. James also broke up a pass. The fact that James is already arguably the most versatile defender in the NFL is preposterous.
Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts (2)
- The only team that has had arguably more rookie production than the Browns is the Colts. That starts with Darius Leonard. Leonard would win Defensive Rookie of the Year most years, but Derwin James exists. Against the Jaguars, Leonard continued his Pro Bowl season. He helped shutdown Leonard Fournette on the ground with five big run stops. He also chipped in on 1.5 TFLs, his awareness and explosion to finish around the ball has changed this defense. He looked good covering the Jaguars TEs down the seam too and dislodged a ball on one pass. Leonard is a game changer.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys (10)
- It was officially Leighton Vander Esch’s coming out party in the Cowboys Sunday Night Football win over the Eagles. LVE made two of the biggest plays of the game and now everybody knows he’s playing at a Pro Bowl level. Early in the game LVE had an INT over the middle that led to a Cowboys FG. Near the end of the game he had a major TFL on a screen pass to put the Eagles in a bad 4th & 7 situation. In-between those game-changing plays LVE had 12 more tackles, four of which were big run stops and he also broke up a pass. The Cowboys have their replacement for Sean Lee.
Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts (9)
- Guess what? Frank Reich’s system and this Colts O-line have both been unbelievable for keeping Andrew Luck clean this season. Both can be true and are true. For the fourth time this season the Colts O-line didn’t give up a single sack and this was against the Jaguars mighty D-line. Quenton Nelson was the tone setter. He had a massive pancake block on a pull and consistently worked his way to the second level in the run game. In pass pro it was the usual. He showed his strong punch and heavy anchor. Nelson is playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos (4)
- The Denver Broncos were on their bye week this week meaning no Bradley Chubb. What Chubb has done this year has been pretty incredible. He currently has 30 tackles and eight sacks through just nine games. It helps that he’s playing across from Von Miller, but the power, heavy hands, motor, and ability he brings against the run each week has been impressive. Chubb is currently on pace to finish the season with 53 tackles and 14 sacks. The NFL rookie sack record is 14.5 set by Jevon Kearse in 1999.
Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (11)
- Cornerback is no longer a position the Packers need to constantly stress about every offseason. Jaire Alexander is a hit, a huge hit. Alexander has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL since returning from an injury three weeks ago. In his three games since returning to the Packers lineup, he has eight PBUs, that’s insane. Against the Dolphins he was great. Had no issues covering DeVante Parker or Kenny Stills. On top of two PBUs he added 5 tackles in the win.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (6)
- These not so great games are going to happen for Saquon Barkley for a few reasons. The Giants O-line is terrible, Eli Manning is terrible, and Barkley has an all or nothing type of running style. He’s looking for the big play more often than the smart play, but that’s ok. He’s been improving all season. Barkley only ended up with 100 total yards on 24 touches. Yes, ONLY. That’s a slow game for him because he’s so good. Once again he was consistently breaking first contact and creating yards for himself. He just needs to continue to have a better feel for the game and the offensive line.
Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers (8)
Former Guest on the Show, @fred_warner up big on 3rd down against OBJ. Fred having an amazing Rookie Campaign. #MNF pic.twitter.com/Ha5vqWGhJx
— The Jimmy Rex Show (@TheJimmyRexShow) November 13, 2018
- The 49ers lost to the Giants on a game-winning drive on Monday Night Football. It was a tough way to lose for the San Francisco defense, despite this Fred Warner made some splash plays throughout the game. He had some nice stops on underneath routes and played tight man coverage. Early in the game he tipped a pass that almost went for an INT and later in the game had a big PBU on a 3rd It wasn’t a huge game for him, but very sound.
Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers (3)
Tough to ask your rookie CB to cover AB all alone. Donte Jackson needs to get hands on AB and not give a clean release like that, also can’t turn your head and guess vs a guy like AB, he makes you pay.
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) November 9, 2018
- For Donte Jackson it was a bit of a comedown game against the Steelers. After an early TFL on a screen, Jackson began to struggle. He was beat by Antonio Brown one-on-one for a 53-yard TD where he had nice coverage, but guessed the ball was coming and blew the coverage. He was watching AB’s hands and tried to read them to make a big play and ended up giving up one. Later in the game he missed a tackle, but also picked up another TFL. It was his worst game of the season, but maybe the hardest matchup he’ll get in the NFL.
Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns (7)
- In Denzel Ward’s return to the field from a concussion he was solid. He looked very good in zone coverage playing the receiver with his body and the QB with his eyes. The smoothness in the way his hips open is always so impressive. Ward had a chance at a nice INT in the game, but ended up dropping the ball. In man coverage did a nice job on both Mo Sanu and Calvin Ridley. The Browns look like they’ve hit on both their first-round picks.
Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals (5)
- After a very impressive season, Week 10 was a tough one for Jessie Bates and the entire Bengals defense. They gave up 51 points to the Saints and looked like they had no business being on the same field as them. Although Bates finished with 11 tackles, his tackling issues came up several times in the game. Bates looked tentative coming up to tackle and missed/slid off multiple tackles. Against the Saints short passing attack, he didn’t really have any effect because of how deep he generally plays. A tough game for a top rookie.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Miami Dolphins (12)
- In a tough loss to the Packers, Minkah Fitzpatrick was still a bright spot. Although he had just two tackles and a PBU, Fitzpatrick was very clean throughout the game in coverage. He was playing safety, nickel, and outside corner in the game. When asked to matchup with Davante Adams, FitzMagic was up to the task and had no issues. His versatility and physicality are exactly what this Dolphins defense needed. Fitzpatrick is on his way to a Pro Bowl career.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills (14)
- The Bills defense manhandled the Jets offense from start to finish and the stars of the show were once again linebackers Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. Edmunds was a monster against the run and helped hold the Jets to just 83 yards rushing. His play of the game was when he shot a gap to stuff a run at the line of scrimmage. He added four other run stops at the line in the game and finished with eight tackles.
Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers (15)
- The 49ers may have lost, but their run game was feeling it and that starts with the offensive line. San Francisco ran for 124 yards and starting RB Matt Breida averaged 5.9 per carry. Rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey was a big part of that, he was driving defensive linemen down the field and opening so much space. He also looked solid in pass pro and the 49ers gave up no sacks. McGlinchey is a franchise tackle.
Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears (19)
- Both the Bears offense and defense are firing on all cylinders right now. Rookie linebacker Roquan Smith had probably his best game of the season in the win over the Lions. Smith helped shutdown Kerryon Johnson and five of his of his 10 tackles were run stops around the line. He also had a big sack on a blitz and a pressure on another. In coverage Smith looked natural and had a PBU. It’s been coming together for Smith all season and he’s becoming a key contributor.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (13)
- In the Falcons loss to the Browns, Calvin Ridley was held relatively quiet. Other than a 31-yard gain, Ridley didn’t do much. He finished with three catches for 37 yards and a 3-yard run on a jet sweep. Matt Ryan missed him early on a key 3rd Down and Ridley looked great with his release and routes, but the offense was just in a funk all game.
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (23)
- The co-rookie of the week has exceeded expectations this season as the Browns QB. Most rookie QBs struggle immensely and you hope to see flashes of their upside, but Mayfield has been more than flashes. He’s now had multiple impressive games and this win over the Falcons is the best yet. Mayfield is currently on pace to finish the season with 3,174 passing yards, 21 TDs and 11 INTs while completing 61.8% of his passes on 6.96 YPA. Impressive numbers for a rookie passer.
Justin Reid, S, Houston Texans (16)
- The Houston Texans were on their bye week this week, but that doesn’t mean no Justin Reid gushing. Reid has been the first-round prospect many people thought he was coming out of Stanford, the Texans just happened to get him in the third-round. Reid has been a utility player in Houston’s secondary with his versatility. He’s on pace to finish the season with 87 tackles, nine PBUs, four INTs, and two fumble recoveries.
Braden Smith, OT, Indianapolis Colts (24)
- It’s not just Quenton Nelson who has helped changed this Colts O-line. Braden Smith deserves a lot of credit for the job he has done starting at right tackle. He helped the Colts not give up any sacks against the Jaguars. Smith’s combination of athleticism and length have been a major upgrade at right tackle for the Colts. His quickness in pass pro allows for him to recover if he’s initially beat off the snap. That’s not something the Colts have had in awhile at tackle. Smith also uses that athleticism to get up to the second level and take on linebackers as a run blocker. This is a long time starter for the Colts.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (18)
- The Denver Broncos were on their bye week this week, but that doesn’t mean I won’t bring up why Phillip Lindsay is another poster boy for not drafting running backs in the first-round. Lindsay has been a star at RB for the Broncos despite being an undrafted rookie. He plays far bigger than he is and has added a quickness and explosiveness the Broncos backfield needed. Lindsay is on pace to finish the season with 1,051 rushing yards and five TDs on 5.4 YPA.
Da’Ron Payne, IDL, Washington (22)
Deadrin Senat, IDL, Atlanta Falcons (17)
Harold Landry, EDGE, Tennessee Titans (20)
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears (40)
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns (NR)
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (21)
Maurice Hurst Jr., IDL, Oakland Raiders (29)
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (25)
James Daniels, OG, Chicago Bears (37)
Will Hernandez, OG, New York Giants (33)
Taron Johnson, CB, Buffalo Bills (35)
Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints (32)
Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (23)
BJ Hill, IDL, New York Giants (27)
Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals (28)
Da’Shawn Hand, IDL, Detroit Lions (30)
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (31)
Genard Avery, LB/EDGE, Cleveland Browns (34)
Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals (36)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (41)
Jerome Baker, LB, Miami Dolphins (38)
Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (39)
Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, New York Giants (NR)
Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Kansas City Chiefs (NR)
Bilal Nichols, IDL, Chicago Bears (NR)
Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets (44)
Brian O’Neil, OT, Minnesota Vikings (45)
Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens (46)
Ronnie Harrison, S, Jacksonville Jaguars (47)
T-50. Michael Dickson, P, Seattle Seahawks (NR)
T-50. Wyatt Teller, OG, Buffalo Bills (NR)
T-50. Tyquan Lewis, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (NR)
Start the Rook
Grant Haley, CB, New York Giants
- One of the most surprising undrafted rookies in the 2018 NFL Draft was Penn State nickel Grant Haley. Haley tested off the chart at the NFL Combine and on tape was one of the feistiest nickels in college football. He’s been seeing major playing time with the Giants this season and with the way their season is going he should be their starting nickel the rest of the way. They need to see what they have in him. He brings physicality and a twitchy athleticism to this secondary. What he lacks in size, Haley makes up for in intense play. This could be a major undrafted rookie hit.
Robert Foster, WR, Buffalo Bills
- First of all, the Bills should straight up cut Kelvin Benjamin. He’s terrible and had little to no impact in the Bills 41-10 win over the Jets. Robert Foster on the other hand made a massive difference. He gave the Bills the outside deep threat their offense is missing. Foster ended up catching three passes for 105 yards in that win. Despite being an undrafted rookie who didn’t do a whole lot at Alabama, he’s intriguing. Foster is a tall lean speedster; he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash. A classic player who makes a team because of traits rather than college tape. With little talent at receiver on this team, Davis injects a deep threat.
Greg Stroman, CB, Washington
- After Washington traded Kendall Fuller in the offseason they had been looking for a new starting nickel. Rookie seventh-round pick Greg Stroman has a chance to be that nickel. At Virginia Tech, Stroman was the starting nickel and punt return for multiple seasons. He had a knack for making big plays which showed up with his INT against the Buccaneers in Week 10. He’s a thin build, but has decent height and athleticism for the nickel spot. There’s a lot of Logan Ryan to his game.
- Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
- DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
- Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
- Mike Hughes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
- Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals
- Uchenna Nwosu, LB, Los Angeles Chargers
- Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers
- Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
- Justin Reid, DB, Houston Texans
- Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints
- Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
- Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Carolina Panthers
- Braden Smith, OL, Indianapolis Colts
- Arden Key, EDGE, Oakland Raiders
- PJ Hall, IDL, Oakland Raiders
- Damion Ratley, WR, Cleveland Browns
- Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
- Alex Cappa, OG, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Avonte Maddox, NB, Philadelphia Eagles
- Tarvarius Moore, DB, San Francisco 49ers
- Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens
- Wyatt Teller, OG, Buffalo Bills
- Obo Okoronkwo, EDGE, Los Angeles Rams
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