Around the NFL  

 

John Brown leads list of 'Top 10 Rookie Highlights'

Print

Welcome to Around The NFL's "Rookie Watch" series, a week-by-week journey ranking this year's promising collection of first-year players.

Rookies bring hope to all 32 teams. In recent years, we've seen Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck immediately shake up the landscape on offense, while draft picks spent on J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn turned vanilla defenses into trouble for opponents.

Between now and the end of the regular season, we'll chart this year's rookie class in an effort to predict which first-year players have the best chance at long careers in our nation's finest sport.

We've taken a broad look at the entire class after Week 1 and Week 2, ranked the running backs and first-year quarterbacks, unveiled our early picks for Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, examined this year's top undrafted rookies and took a peek at some of this year's rookie disappointments.

After rolling out our Midseason All-Rookie Team and this year's first-time head coaches and coordinators, it's time to switch gears and look at some of this year's finest rookie highlights.

Kick back and enjoy:

John Brown is one offseason hype bunny worth the shining headlines. Already tied for the most game-winning touchdown receptions in a single season with three -- joining the likes of Reggie Wayne, Greg Jennings, Randy Moss and Sterling Sharpe -- the first-year Cardinals wideout also caught the go-ahead score to knock off San Francisco in Week 3. Check out Mr. Brown:

In what might be the finest class of wideouts in decades, Sammy Watkins looms as the most freakishly athletic of the bunch. The centerpiece of our "Midseason All-Rookie Team" and a playmaker drawing "Larry Fitzgerald-like" comparisons from Bill Belichick, Watkins can do it all:

Odell Beckham Jr. showed moxie on Sunday going head-to-head with Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. Becoming the first Giants rookie wideout with back-to-back 100-yard outings since Byron Williams in 1983, Beckham's seven-catch, 108-yard afternoon was highlighted by this 44-yard gain against the NFL's finest cover man:

Branden Oliver topped our Rookie Watch list after generating more yards from scrimmage against the Jets in Week 5 than any Chargers running back since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007. The rookie lashed Gang Green for 182 total yards, an effort capped by this gorgeous 52-yard rumble:

A mainstay in Minnesota's defense since Day One, only Robert Blanton and Brian Robison have played more snaps than rookie linebacker Anthony Barr. He's emerged as a reliable run-stuffer who makes "wow" plays on a weekly basis, something the Bucs learned firsthand in Week 8:

Life hasn't been easy for any of the rookie quarterbacks, but Derek Carr has shown the most promise. We haven't given up on Blake Bortles, but Carr -- with no hint of a ground game -- looks better on film. We thought his best game of the year came against the Chargers in Week 6, with Carr thrashing San Diego for 282 yards and four scores. His strong arm was evident on this 77-yard strike to Andre Holmes:

C.J. Mosley has been a plug-and-play starter since the summer. Second behind just Luke Kuechly with 44 stops on the year, the Ravens rookie has drawn in-house comparisons to Ray Lewis and weekly praise from coaches. He's strong enough to one-arm tackle runners with a blocker in his face and fast enough to hold his own in pass coverage. Here's proof:

NFL Media's Bucky Brooks told NFL NOW that Benjamin compares to a young Plaxico Burress, calling the Panthers rookie wideout a player "who hasn't even scratched the surface." How many stars -- much less rookies -- have gone up against Sherman and Earl Thomas with this type of success?

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been a monster against the run. Ranking behind just Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Williams at his position, via Pro Football Focus, the rookie left Chiefs play-caller Doug Pederson to call him "the best we've faced all year." Adrian Peterson learned about Donald the hard way:

The Bucs have been a raging disaster this season, but there's hope at wide receiver. Mike Evans looked like a legitimate No. 1 against the Browns two Sundays ago, frying Cleveland for 124 yards on seven catches with a pair of 24-yard touchdown grabs. This over-the-shoulder haul from Mike Glennon was a thing of beauty:

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Week 10 game from an action-packed Sunday. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

Print

Fan Discussion