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