Now that we are mid-way through the NFL season. I thought it would be interesting to highlight which rookies have been the best at their position (so far). By making an all mid-season rookie-team. I will also include my pre-draft rankings that I had of each player. To see how these rookies have made me look as an evaluator.
Quarterback: Baker Mayfield: 1768 Yards, 10 TDs, 7 INTs, 60 Cmp%. Pre-Draft Ranking: QB3.
This was the by far hardest position to choose because all of the rookie Quarterbacks have had their ups and downs. However, Baker Mayfield has been the most consistent, and consistency is everything in the NFL. When watching Mayfield, he has put his pin point accuracy, arm strength, play making ability, and poise on display. His ability to process at a high level flashes at times. I still think he tends to hold on to the ball for too long, but I believe he will improve his decisiveness as he gets more adjusted to the speed of the NFL. Lastly, Mayfield has given more to hope to his franchise than any other rookie QB that I have ever seen. His swagger and authentic mentality is exactly what Cleveland needs. Even though it might no seem like it. This team is headed in the right direction, and he is undoubtedly a main reason why.
Honorable Mention: Sam Darnold. Pre-Draft Ranking: QB1
Running Back: Saquon Barkley; Rushing: 111 Attempts, 519 Yards, 5 TDs. Receiving: 58 Rec, 497 Yards, 2 TDs. Pre-Draft Ranking: RB1
Saquon Barkley has been absolutely spectacular. Not only has he been the best rookie Running Back, but he has been one of the best Running Backs in the entire NFL. The rushing stats are clearly impressive, but where he has elevated his game above the rest, is in the passing game. 497 yards on 58 receptions are Wide Receiver caliber numbers. Production like this proves that Barkley is on his way to becoming one of the best offensive weapons in the league.
Unfortunately, his stellar performances have not translated into team success, and the Giants still have a hole at the most important position. Which is why I still believe that the G Men made a mistake passing on a Quarterback. However, Barkley has been everything and more you could want in a 2nd overall pick. Rightfully earning the starting Running Back position on my all-rookie mid-season team.
Honorable Mention: Phillip Lindsay. Pre-Draft Ranking: Unranked
Wide Receiver: Calvin Ridley; 33 Rec, 463 Yards, 7 TDs. Pre-Draft Ranking: WR1
It is no surprise that Calvin Ridley has been the best rookie Receiver so far. He was the most nuanced and pro ready route runner in the class. Which is the most NFL translatable trait a Receiver can possess. Also, he is in a loaded offense, complimenting an elite Wide Receiver. Opposing teams’ number 1 priority is to stop Julio Jones, which gives Ridley a lot of favorable matchups. With all that being said, I don’t want to take anything away from how impressive Ridley has been. He has made several NFL Defensive Backs look foolish and has shown that he can be a reliable target for Matt Ryan moving forward.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Miller. Pre-Draft Ranking: WR4
Tight End: Dallas Goedert; 18 Rec, 188 Yards, 3 TDs. Pre-Draft Ranking: TE1
This Tight End class has had a really slow start. Just look at the first 2 Tight Ends taken (in the draft). Hayden Hurst got hurt before the start of the season, so he hasn’t played much. And Mike Gesicki has struggled, so he doesn’t consistently get playing time. Even with excluding those two, there hasn’t been another TE that has really emerged. So, I am going with my guy Dallas Goedert. I understand that Goedert doesn’t start, but he has been the most impactful. Whenever he is on the field, he makes plays. Which is why I believe that he will continue to see more playing time as the season continues.
Honorable Mention: Chris Herndon. Pre-Draft Ranking: TE7
Interior Offensive Lineman: Quenton Nelson. Pre-Draft Ranking: IOL1
Not only was Quenton Nelson my highest ranked interior offensive lineman in the 2018 draft class. He was also my 1st overall player. Talk about high expectations. Anyway, I think Nelson has been solid so far. He has had some hiccups, but nothing you wouldn’t expect from a rookie. Like Quarterback, I think you could argue for a couple other guys for this position. Guys like Frank Ragnow, and Will Hernandez have also been impressive, but I chose Nelson because I believe he has made the biggest impact to his team.
The Lions’ offensive line was solid before they got Ragnow (even though they are better with him), and the Giants’ offensive line has been bad with Hernandez. The Colts offensive line went from being horrendous in 2017, to one of the best lines in the league in 2018. Don’t believe me, look at this stat. The Colts allowed 29 sacks through 8 games in 2017. This year they have only allowed 10 sacks through 8 games. I know the Colts’ offense has changed under Frank Reich, but it is clear that Nelson’s presence is a big reason for the improved protection.
Honorable Mention: Frank Ragnow. Pre-Draft Ranking: IOL7
Offensive Tackle: Mike McGlinchey. Pre-Draft Ranking: OT1
Even though I had Mike McGlinchey as my highest rated offensive tackle. I am still taking an L on his evaluation, considering that I thought the 49ers reached for him. San Francisco clearly had a better idea of his game than I did, because he has been the best rookie offensive line by far. Like Nelson, McGlinchey hasn’t been perfect, but has done a solid job for the most part against some of the best edge rushers the league has to offer. I truly believe the sky is the limit for the Notre Dame product, and should be reaching pro bowl status in no time.
Honorable Mention: Braden Smith. Pre-Draft Ranking: IOL9
- “Statistics.” National Football League Stats – by Player Category | NFL.com, www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?archive=false&conference=null&statisticCategory=PASSING&season=2018&seasonType=REG&experience=&tabSeq=0&qualified=false&Submit=Go.
- “Indianapolis Colts.” Jacoby Brissett: Game Logs at NFL.com, www.nfl.com/player/jacobybrissett/2555261/gamelogs?season=2017.
- “Pro Football Statistics and History.” Pro-Football-Reference.com, www.pro-football-reference.com/.