How the NFL Rookie First-rounders have Fared so Far

In today’s NFL, the average career length of a first-round draft selection is 9.3 years, nearly three times longer than that of an average NFL player. Naturally, expectations are high for any first-round draft selection, as teams look to find the next hall-of-famer. The first round of the 2018 NFL Draft contained a plethora of surprises. Five weeks into the season, some of the top rookies have separated themselves from the bunch, while others have under-performed their first-round status.

The biggest excitements of the 2018 Draft were the quarterbacks, but among the five first-round QBs, none of been outstanding. Darnold was a top prospect entering the NFL Draft. Many NFL analysts and experts have viewed Darnold as the most “sound” rookie QB. Josh Allen was drafted as an ongoing project rather than a polished NFL starter. He was drafted in the first round mainly due to his wildly strong throwing arm rather than his technique. Josh Rosen was drafted as the cleanest passer in the Draft. While all three quarterbacks are still getting into the rhythm of the NFL, they are yet to record good numbers. Sam Darnold, who threw an interception on his first NFL play, has recorded a poor TD-INT ratio of 7-6. Josh Allen has been terrible in the NFL so far. His completion percentage has been an atrocious 53.3%, and he thrown only two TDs in four starts. Josh Rosen has been affected by the Cardinals’ terribleness on both sides of the ball. Despite playing behind a terrible o-line, Rosen has won a game in his second start. That doesn’t excuse his 49.2% completion rate. The first overall draft pick Baker Mayfield took the League by storm in his first game. Baker Mayfield impressively led the Cleveland Browns to their first NFL win in over a year. He recorded a high 73.9% completion rate in 23 attempts. Since then, he’s thrown 3 TDs and 3 INTs.

Despite generally disappointing performances from the first-round quarterbacks, many other rookies have played well so far. On the offensive side of the ballgame, Saquon Barkley (RB, 2nd overall) and Calvin Ridley (WR, 26th overall) have shone brightly. Barkley has scored 4 rushing touchdowns and 2 receiving touchdowns in six games, while also displaying highlight-reel runs every game. Calvin Ridley has been a great #2 receiver for the Falcons. Ridley is on track to have over 60 receptions this year, not to mention the 6 TDs he has already scored for the Falcons.

Many of the defensive rookies have also played very well. Denzel Ward (CB, 4th overall), Tremaine Edmunds (LB, 16th overall), and Derwin James (S, 17th overall) have fared well so far. Denzel Ward, the star cornerback for the Browns, has wreaked havoc all over the football field. He had two interceptions in his debut against offensive powerhouse Pittsburgh Steelers. He also had a crucial forced fumble against the Jets, and without such a play, the Browns may have never come back to win. He had another INT in the Browns’ win against Baltimore. Tremaine Edmunds has also beat up NFL offenses so far, recording 38 tackles, one sack, and two forced fumbles in five weeks of football. The final standout first-rounder is Derwin James. He recorded three sacks and an interception so far. His ability to defend against top offensive teams is a positive sign for the young safety.

While some rookies have played well in an ever-growing League, others have not gotten many opportunities yet. Vita Vea (DT, 12th overall), Billy Price (C, 21st overall) and Hayden Hurst (TE, 25th overall) have experienced injuries early on in their careers and have not made impacts on the field. We are only six weeks into the season, and we are yet to see some of these future stars integrate with their teammates and get used to the hard-hitting NFL stage. There is still a lot of football to look forward to for these young first-round picks.



Bibliography:

“2018 NFL Draft.” Sporting News. Accessed September 24, 2018. http://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/draft/2018/draft-results/round/1.

 

“Pro Football Statistics and History.” Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed September 24, 2018. https://www.pro-football-reference.com/.
Featured image from:
Beer, Jeff. “This Is Where Top NFL Rookies Go on Their First Business Trip.” Fast Company. May 22, 2018. Accessed October 13, 2018. https://www.fastcompany.com/40576033/this-is-where-top-nfl-rookies-go-on-their-first-business-trip.
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5 things I saw in NFL Preseason Week 1

Amidst the controversial new Helmet Rule, the NFL Preseason kicked off, allowing us to watch the new NFL rookies. These are the five things we learned from the first week of Preseason.

#1. The Browns  pass offense is DANGEROUS.

Baker Mayfield showed his awesome pocket presence and maneuverability as he avoided multiple pocket collapses. He isn’t a tremendous athlete, but he made some crucial plays with his feet. His connections with Antonio Callaway and Jarvis Landry also looked very promising. We know who Jarvis Landry is. Furthermore, Antonio Callaway, aside from his off-field issues, looks like an absolute BEAST on the ball. He is a tremendous athlete. We can expect Jarvis to have 1,000+ receiving yards in 2018, and I also think Callaway will have a huge year behind Landry and Josh Gordon.  The Browns’ WR core will GO OFF next year.

#2. Lamar Jackson can RUN, but his passing is poor-quality.

Both the Hall of Fame Game and Ravens vs. Rams game were packed with exciting Lamar Jackson runs. However, his throwing was pretty bad. He missed some pretty easy slant routes, and he had some pretty dangerous throws. He’s definitely very talented, but at this rate, he won’t play much next season.

#3. Skill positions are easy to fill.

Saquon Barkley looked very good on his first Preseason run. I predict he’ll have a 1,000+ yard rushing and 500 yard receiving year. However, there were MANY rookie skill-position players who shined in Preseason wk1. Ray-Ray McCloud (WR, Bills), Ralph Webb (RB Patriots). Both players are low-profile rookies, but they still made plays. Ray-Ray was a sixth-round draft pick, while Ralph Webb, who had two TDs, was an undrafted free agent.

#4. Darnold and Rosen

Darnold had the best rookie QB performance this week behind Baker Mayfield. He showed his ability to throw on the run and avoid defenders within the pocket. I was most impressed by his fast ball release. His arm looks very hard to defend against. Josh Rosen didn’t have his best day, but he was still throwing darts against the Chargers. If not for the center’s terrible snaps and the wide receivers’ drops, Rosen would have had a much better day. Granted, both QBs threw against 2nd/3rd team defenses.

#5. The Vikings are looking DIRTYY

The Vikings may have confirmed that they are the top-dogs in the NFC. They showed off their great WR duo featuring Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, a re-energized run-game with Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray. Kirk Cousins had some good connections with many of these offensive weapons. Furthermore, the Vikings’ defense SHUT DOWN Case Keenum and the Broncos’ first team offense. The Vikings looked nasty good.

 

Those were the top 5 things I saw in the first week of the NFL 2018 Preseason. There were many other topics of discussion, and I’m excited to see more in the remaining three weeks of the Preseason.

 



Featured image from: https://www.sbnation.com/nfl/2018/8/10/17674610/nfl-preseason-2018-saquon-barkley-baker-mayfield-patrick-mahomes

 

First Round of the 2018 NFL Draft: Winners and Losers

Winners

Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals had one of the best days. Following Carson Palmer and Blaine Gabbert’s departures, the Cards went into the Draft with zero QBs. Many expected the Cardinals to trade up big for Lamar Jackson, who is considered the fourth or fifth best QB in this year’s Draft. Instead, Josh Rosen slipped down, so the Cardinals traded up to Oakland’s spot to scoop him up at 10. Arizona took the most natural, clean passer who potentially has the highest chance among the rookie QBs to be a starter his first year, and the Cardinals didn’t have to give up much to get him. They gave up only their first, third, and fifth round picks to pick up a QB who was projected to go in the top 3.


Denzel Ward
The fourth overall selection was the biggest surprise of the Draft after Baker Mayfield going at pick one. Denzel Ward (DB) was projected to go in the top-10, but definitely no one expected him to go fourth overall. I wanted the Browns to select Bradley Chubb to greatly strengthen the Browns’ defensive line. Chubb is the best defensive NFL prospect this year, and he has the lowest bust potential. But with a major need at CB, the Browns selecting Denzel Ward at four was not negative. In the end, Denzel Ward was selected higher than expected, as he joins a young, talented Browns defense, rendering him a winner in this Draft.


Offensive linemen
In the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, six o-linemen were selected. This number is a huge leap from last year, where only two o-linemen were selected in the first 32 picks. On top of the mere number of o-line personnel selected, each of the six big guys will protect a top rated QB next year. Quenton Nelson (OG) will HOPEFULLY protect Andrew Luck, Mike McGlinchey (OT) will protect Jimmy G, Kolton Miller (OT) will protect Derek Carr, Frank Ragnow (C) will protect Matthew Stafford, Billy Price (C) will protect Andy Dalton, and Isaiah Wynn (OT) will protect Tom Brady. Many o-linemen went in the first round, and all of them should be motivated to provide services to their new NFL teams when they protect star QBs. Thus, o-linemen have been winners in this Draft thus far.


Buffalo Bills
In my opinion, Josh Allen is not the answer at QB for the Bills. Buffalo should have drafted Rosen at seventh overall. However, from their perspective, Allen is the gunslinger they wanted after releasing Tyrod Taylor. The Bills probably want a big-arm QB after their disappointment with Tyrod, who doesn’t make the big, risky throws. Tremaine Edmunds, who they chose at 16th overall, was probably the biggest steal of the first round. He is still super young at age 19, and his athleticism at LB is absolutely insane. At 6’5 and 253Ib, he ran a whopping 4.54s 40-yard dash during the Combine. In 2017, he recorded 108 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 13 games at Virginia Tech. While I don’t agree with the Bills’ hype over Josh Allen, they matched their own objective by drafting him, and they also drafted a future star in Edmunds, thus the Bills were a winner.


Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens WON. Baltimore traded down, yet they managed to fill a major need at TE by grabbing Hayden Hurst at #25. By giving up their #22 pick and a seventh rounder to the Titans, they received a #25 pick and a third-rounder. Essentially, moving down three spots didn’t interfere with their plan to fill their need at TE, but rather, allowed them to move up from a seventh rounder to a third rounder in the latter part of their transaction. What a deal. On top of this great draft maneuver, they also made a great transaction to trade up to pick up Lamar Jackson. The Ravens gave up a #52 pick, #125 pick, and a 2019 second rounder to obtain the #32 and #132 pick from the Eagles. To put the matter simply, Baltimore obtained the most electrifying player from college just by giving next year’s second rounder. What a deal. Whether or not Baltimore can actually build a system around Lamar Jackson is in question, but for now, the Ravens have a Heisman Trophy winner to develop behind Joe Flacco before he potentially lights up the NFL in the coming years.


Baker Mayfield
With his legendary copycat picture where he poses like Brett Favre, his confidence prior to the Draft was clear. Not many people expected him to go #1 though. Some reports flowed in a day before the Draft, but many brushed these developments as speculations. But, Baker was actually chosen first. While Browns QBs have been cursed for decades and Baker might fall victim to the system, this situation gives way for Baker to yet again to shine bright under the lights. This surprising pick also benefits Baker’s reputation, as he seems to profit widely from buzz. Thus, this pick renders Baker a winner in terms of both a football player and a public figure.



Losers

Wide Receivers
Unfortunately, wide receivers lost in round 1. The first 32 picks consisted of two WRs. Surprisingly, DJ Moore (WR) went first at pick 24 to the Panthers, followed closely by Calvin Ridley at 26 to the Falcons. Courtland Sutton, who was considered a top WR prospect, was not taken in the first round. Clearly, this class lacks depth at WR, so they are losers of this first round.


Lions
Picking Frank Ragnow (C) at #20 was very questionable. To be honest, I didn’t know who he was before this pick. Billy Price, despite his injury, would have been a better option at center. Further, there were so many abled players that had slipped down to their hands. Finding a second WR to accommodate A.J Green, or picking a major defensive talent that had trickled down, were better options.




SOURCES

“2017 NFL Draft.” 2018. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. April 27. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_NFL_Draft.

“Depth Chart.” 2018. News Stories RSS. Accessed April 28. http://www.bengals.com/team/depth-chart.html.

Lambert, Terry A. 2018. “2018 NFL Draft: Titans Trade up to 22nd Pick.” Music City Miracles. Music City Miracles. April 27. https://www.musiccitymiracles.com/2018/4/26/17287180/2018-nfl-draft-titans-trade-up-to-22nd-pick.

“NFL Draft & Combine Profile – HAYDEN HURST.” 2018. NFL.com. Accessed April 28. https://www.nfl.com/prospects/hayden-hurst?id=32462018-0002-5600-72f9-7623b6673aa8.

“NFL Draft & Combine Profile – RASHAAN EVANS.” 2018. NFL.com. NFL. Accessed April 28. https://www.nfl.com/prospects/rashaan-evans?id=32462018-0002-5600-737b-93a2d4fa1f16.

“NFL Draft & Combine Profile – TREMAINE EDMUNDS.” 2018. NFL.com. Accessed April 28. https://www.nfl.com/prospects/tremaine-edmunds?id=32462018-0002-5600-62d0-412c60099aca.

Patra, Kevin. 2018. “Cardinals Trade up to Get Josh Rosen at No. 10.” NFL.com. Accessed April 28. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000929007/article/cardinals-trade-up-to-get-josh-rosen-at-no-10.

“Tremaine Edmunds College Stats.” 2018. College Football at Sports-Reference.com. Accessed April 28. https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/players/tremaine-edmunds-1.html.

Wesseling, Chris. 2018. “Ravens Trade up to Take Lamar Jackson at No. 32.” NFL.com. April 26. http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000929151/article/ravens-trade-up-to-take-lamar-jackson-at-no-32.


Featured image:

Weinstein, Arthur. 2018. “NFL Draft 2018: Extreme Twitter Takes on First-Round Winners, Losers.” Sporting News. April 27. http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/news/nfl-draft-2018-10-extreme-twitter-takes-first-round-winners-losers/lvvs27q7zhc01mt259zy8kefl.