Published: Nov. 29, 2019 at 11:14 a.m.
Updated: Nov. 29, 2019 at 11:21 a.m.

Next Gen Stats: Compelling figures for top NFL rookies

In honor of Thanksgiving, this week we're showing our appreciation for rookies who are posting some eye-popping production in a number of Next Gen Stats categories. These first-year players have had immediate success and, in some cases, are helping to change the culture of their franchise. Let's take a look at some of the notable NFL newbies.

NOTE: All stats reflect where things stood entering Week 13 and do not take into account the Thanksgiving day games.

7 Photos Total

  • Kyler Murray's rare combination of speed and arm talent has helped the Cardinals' air raid offense become one of the most explosive attacks in the NFL. It was difficult to pick which Next Gen Stat to highlight for Murray, so here's a sampling:<br/><br/>
 
-- Pressured on 12.6 percent of dropbacks (lowest rate in NFL)<br/>
-- Evades pressure on 28.6 percent of dropbacks when hurried (highest in NFL)<br/>
-- 748 deep passing yards (third-most in NFL)<br/>
-- 46 rushes reaching 15-plus mph (third-most in NFL)<br/>
-- 8 dime completions (tied for fifth most in NFL); a dime is a completion of 30-plus air yards into a tight window<br/><br/>
 
Murray has struggled against the blitz (59.8 passer rating, second-lowest in NFL) and has been sacked 35 times (second-most in NFL), so it hasn't all been pretty.  But the future is looking bright in Arizona with Murray leading the way. 7

    John Hefti/Associated Press

    Arizona's sensational dual-threat

    Kyler Murray's rare combination of speed and arm talent has helped the Cardinals' air raid offense become one of the most explosive attacks in the NFL. It was difficult to pick which Next Gen Stat to highlight for Murray, so here's a sampling:

    -- Pressured on 12.6 percent of dropbacks (lowest rate in NFL)
    -- Evades pressure on 28.6 percent of dropbacks when hurried (highest in NFL)
    -- 748 deep passing yards (third-most in NFL)
    -- 46 rushes reaching 15-plus mph (third-most in NFL)
    -- 8 dime completions (tied for fifth most in NFL); a dime is a completion of 30-plus air yards into a tight window

    Murray has struggled against the blitz (59.8 passer rating, second-lowest in NFL) and has been sacked 35 times (second-most in NFL), so it hasn't all been pretty. But the future is looking bright in Arizona with Murray leading the way.

  • The 49ers, led by explosive units on both sides of the ball, are off to a 10-1 start. Head coach Kyle Shanahan hangs his hat on offense, but GM John Lynch has beefed up the defense in recent years, including this year's draft, when he landed Nick Bosa with the second overall pick. Bosa has exceeded even the highest expectations, helping the 49ers allow the second-fewest points per game in the NFL (14.8), and sacking the opposing QB at the league's highest rate (11.8 percent sack rate). He has pressured the QB on 15.1 percent of his pass rushes this season, ranking third among players with at least 150 pass rushes. That's a significantly higher rate than his brother Joey's (10.7 percent, 31st in NFL). However, the 49ers defense faces its stiffest test of the season in Week 13, when it visits Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. 6

    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Nick Bosa producing at elite rate

    The 49ers, led by explosive units on both sides of the ball, are off to a 10-1 start. Head coach Kyle Shanahan hangs his hat on offense, but GM John Lynch has beefed up the defense in recent years, including this year's draft, when he landed Nick Bosa with the second overall pick. Bosa has exceeded even the highest expectations, helping the 49ers allow the second-fewest points per game in the NFL (14.8), and sacking the opposing QB at the league's highest rate (11.8 percent sack rate). He has pressured the QB on 15.1 percent of his pass rushes this season, ranking third among players with at least 150 pass rushes. That's a significantly higher rate than his brother Joey's (10.7 percent, 31st in NFL). However, the 49ers defense faces its stiffest test of the season in Week 13, when it visits Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

  • While the Bills' Josh Allen is impressing fans in Western New York this season, the Jaguars' Josh Allen is establishing himself as the centerpiece of his team's defense. Jacksonville teammates Calais Campbell and Myles Jack get most of the pub for the Jags D, but Allen has lived up to his billing as the seventh overall pick in this year's draft. Allen ranks just behind second overall pick Nick Bosa in pressure rate this season, generating pressure on 15.0 percent of his pass rushes, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL (min. 150 pass rushes). Allen has been just as effective rushing against left tackles (14.9 percent pressure rate) as he has against right tackles (15.1 percent pressure rate), but he's picked up six of his eight sacks when rushing from the offense's right side. Allen has outperformed two defensive linemen selected ahead of him in this year's draft (the Jets' Quinnen Williams and the Raiders' Clelin Ferrell) and should be a top performer in Jacksonville for years to come. 5

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Bills QB isn't the only Josh Allen to know

    While the Bills' Josh Allen is impressing fans in Western New York this season, the Jaguars' Josh Allen is establishing himself as the centerpiece of his team's defense. Jacksonville teammates Calais Campbell and Myles Jack get most of the pub for the Jags D, but Allen has lived up to his billing as the seventh overall pick in this year's draft. Allen ranks just behind second overall pick Nick Bosa in pressure rate this season, generating pressure on 15.0 percent of his pass rushes, the fourth-highest rate in the NFL (min. 150 pass rushes). Allen has been just as effective rushing against left tackles (14.9 percent pressure rate) as he has against right tackles (15.1 percent pressure rate), but he's picked up six of his eight sacks when rushing from the offense's right side. Allen has outperformed two defensive linemen selected ahead of him in this year's draft (the Jets' Quinnen Williams and the Raiders' Clelin Ferrell) and should be a top performer in Jacksonville for years to come.

  • D.K. Metcalf burst onto the scene earlier this year after an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he displayed his incredible combination of size and speed. Metcalf checked in at just over 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds and ran a blazing 4.33-second 40-yard dash (let's forget about his disappointing results in the 3-cone drill). The Seahawks' coaching staff has done an excellent job of maximizing Metcalf's straight-line speed, as Metcalf has been targeted on 18 deep passes this season, tied for eighth-most in the NFL and tops among rookies. Metcalf also leads all rookies with eight deep receptions and 308 deep receiving yards (both top 10 in the NFL). Teammate Tyler Lockett also has 19 deep targets, and with Russell Wilson going deep more often than any other QB (17.3 percent of attempts), there are plenty of deep shots to go around in this Seahawks offense. 4

    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Optimizing D.K.'s abilities

    D.K. Metcalf burst onto the scene earlier this year after an impressive showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he displayed his incredible combination of size and speed. Metcalf checked in at just over 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds and ran a blazing 4.33-second 40-yard dash (let's forget about his disappointing results in the 3-cone drill). The Seahawks' coaching staff has done an excellent job of maximizing Metcalf's straight-line speed, as Metcalf has been targeted on 18 deep passes this season, tied for eighth-most in the NFL and tops among rookies. Metcalf also leads all rookies with eight deep receptions and 308 deep receiving yards (both top 10 in the NFL). Teammate Tyler Lockett also has 19 deep targets, and with Russell Wilson going deep more often than any other QB (17.3 percent of attempts), there are plenty of deep shots to go around in this Seahawks offense.

  • Rookies have accounted for 18.4 percent of the Raiders' offensive and defensive snaps this season, the second-highest rate in the NFL trailing only the New York Giants (19.9 percent). Josh Jacobs, the second of Oakland's three first-round picks in 2019, has played a huge role in the team's turnaround this season. The former Alabama RB has been effective in short-yardage situations (3 or fewer yards to go), averaging 4.4 yards per rush (third-most among RBs) and gaining 0 or fewer yards on just 15.8 percent of short-yardage rushes this season (fifth-lowest run stuff rate among RBs, min. 15 short yardage runs). The Raiders have also benefited from Jacobs' ability to run outside the tackles, as he has the third-most rush yards on outside runs (660 yards) while averaging 5.2 yards per rush on such runs (fifth-most, min. 50 outside runs). 3

    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Jacobs key to Raiders' resurgence

    Rookies have accounted for 18.4 percent of the Raiders' offensive and defensive snaps this season, the second-highest rate in the NFL trailing only the New York Giants (19.9 percent). Josh Jacobs, the second of Oakland's three first-round picks in 2019, has played a huge role in the team's turnaround this season. The former Alabama RB has been effective in short-yardage situations (3 or fewer yards to go), averaging 4.4 yards per rush (third-most among RBs) and gaining 0 or fewer yards on just 15.8 percent of short-yardage rushes this season (fifth-lowest run stuff rate among RBs, min. 15 short yardage runs). The Raiders have also benefited from Jacobs' ability to run outside the tackles, as he has the third-most rush yards on outside runs (660 yards) while averaging 5.2 yards per rush on such runs (fifth-most, min. 50 outside runs).

  • The Raiders entered the 2019 offseason in need of major upgrades along the defensive line after pressuring opposing QBs on just 83 dropbacks in 2018, 49 fewer than the next closest team. The Raiders selected Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick in the draft to lead their rebuilt pass rush, but it's fourth-round selection Maxx Crosby who's leading the Raiders in QB pressures (31, 10 more than any other Raiders player). The Eastern Michigan product has helped Oakland surpass its 2018 pressures total already (96 pressures in 2019). Crosby has pressured opposing QBs on 22 pass rushes since Week 12, the second-most in that span. The Raiders have taken a step in the right direction this season, and with two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft (one via Chicago from the Khalil Mack trade), more reinforcements are on the way. 2

    Aaron M. Sprecher/Associated Press

    Mad Maxx bringing the fury

    The Raiders entered the 2019 offseason in need of major upgrades along the defensive line after pressuring opposing QBs on just 83 dropbacks in 2018, 49 fewer than the next closest team. The Raiders selected Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick in the draft to lead their rebuilt pass rush, but it's fourth-round selection Maxx Crosby who's leading the Raiders in QB pressures (31, 10 more than any other Raiders player). The Eastern Michigan product has helped Oakland surpass its 2018 pressures total already (96 pressures in 2019). Crosby has pressured opposing QBs on 22 pass rushes since Week 12, the second-most in that span. The Raiders have taken a step in the right direction this season, and with two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft (one via Chicago from the Khalil Mack trade), more reinforcements are on the way.

  • Terry McLaurin has emerged as the go-to guy for the Redskins. The rookie receiver has to hope that his Ohio State and Redskins teammate, fellow rookie Dwayne Haskins, continues the trend of targeting him at an extremely high rate. McLaurin, a third-round pick, has been the target of 42.5 percent of the Redskins' air yards this season, the second-highest share of air yards by any player in the NFL (only the Broncos' Courtland Sutton has a higher share at 43.9 percent). When the Redskins pass deep, they are even more likely to target McLaurin, as he has accounted for 63.9 percent of the Redskins' deep air yards and has all seven of Washington's deep receptions this season. It's been quite the rookie season for the 12th WR selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. 1

    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Redskins' new No. 1 target

    Terry McLaurin has emerged as the go-to guy for the Redskins. The rookie receiver has to hope that his Ohio State and Redskins teammate, fellow rookie Dwayne Haskins, continues the trend of targeting him at an extremely high rate. McLaurin, a third-round pick, has been the target of 42.5 percent of the Redskins' air yards this season, the second-highest share of air yards by any player in the NFL (only the Broncos' Courtland Sutton has a higher share at 43.9 percent). When the Redskins pass deep, they are even more likely to target McLaurin, as he has accounted for 63.9 percent of the Redskins' deep air yards and has all seven of Washington's deep receptions this season. It's been quite the rookie season for the 12th WR selected in the 2019 NFL Draft.