These weekly rankings have certainly been impacted by the play of the quarterbacks in this class. Blake Bortles struggles have stifled the Jaguars ranking, Zach Mettenberger has given the Titans life, and Teddy Bridgewater emerging as the clear top rookie quarterback this year has merited the Vikings being the top rookie class.
And while Johnny Manziel won’t get the start in Week 13, he’s shown that his flashiness can lead to NFL touchdowns.
Those quarterbacks, plus continued wow defensive performances by Chris Borland and Aaron Donald lead the Week 13 rookie class rankings.
Rank-(LW) – Team
1-(1) Minnesota Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater seemed to take the next step as a passer against the Panthers, finishing deep throws and putting up points for the Vikings offense despite having just 21 passes. Protection issues still lead him to take three sacks. Anthony Barr wasn’t nearly as effective as in weeks past, but the defensive backfield and Everson Griffin picked up the slack.
2-(2) St. Louis Rams
Tre Mason had his first “wow” game as an NFL runner, putting up 117 yards on just 14 carries and two touchdowns. He’s the team’s lead back going into 2015. Greg Robinson was back at left tackle, and while he wasn’t fantastic and didn’t have any stand-out blocks, he certainly didn’t limit the offense. Aaron Donald didn’t put up a sack, but he might as well get half credit on those and the interceptions forced based on how effectively he was able to break the line. Despite the stats not showing it, he should be up for defensive rookie of the year.
3-(3) Buffalo Bills
Sammy Watkins was once again unable to break free, this time against a plus- defense. He was limited to just 11 yards on three catches. Seantrel Henderson played very well against the Browns front-7, especially in giving Kyle Orton time (as did the rest of the Bills offensive line). Preston Brown posted seven tackles, and the entire Bills defense has begun to emerge as one of the league’s best in the second half of the year.
4-(6) Jacksonville Jaguars
Marqise Lee took over the mantle as the team’s best receiver opposite Cecil Shorts, and finished the Giants game with his best performance to date, including touchdown grab. Blake Bortles had one of his best games as a pro, efficiency-wise, finishing the easy throws, but still struggling under pressure. Telvin Smith has continued to be active as a tackler on the perimeter, and saw all but one defensive snap against the Giants.
5-(4) San Francisco 49ers
Carlos Hyde saw just five runs and 17 total snaps. They’d be better off taking the Bengals approach and turning their two running backs into the feature part of their offense. Chris Borland had another double-digit tackle game, and continues his enforcement in the middle of the 49ers defense. Aaron Lynch’s snaps have diminished with Aldon Smith’s return, but the team may consider choosing the young, less expensive Lynch long-term, starting in 2015.
6-(5) New York Giants
Odell Beckham is the clear number one weapon in the offense, and despite the Jaguars knowing this, he was still able to nearly eclipse 100 yards on eight targers. Andre Williams once again was limited as a runner, with just 21 yards on eight carries, one of which made up 11 yards, the bulk of his performance. Weston Richburg once against was poor in the run game.
7-(11) Cleveland Browns
Johnny Manziel finally got his chance to play in the NFL, and despite having a touchdown on his first drive and flashing the excitement this team might need, he won’t be the team’s Week 14 starter. Isaiah Crowell is the team’s starter, but Terrence West still saw seven carries. However, he did have a costly fumble that changed the tone of the game. Joel Bitonio kept up his strong play next to Joe Thomas as a pass blocker, but was partially to blame for their lack of run game success. Linebacker Chris Kirksey continues to be a plus run defender on a defense that has had success on the inside, but struggled containing the edge.
8-(7) Tampa Bay Bucs
Mike Evans was given chances, but Terence Newman played well enough to limit him to just two catches and out of the endzone. Evans has dominated most teams he’s faced the past few weeks, and I wouldn’t expect him to be limited to under 50 yards anytime soon.
9-(8) Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are bad. Derek Carr regressed after an adequate performance in the team’s first win against the Chiefs, struggling mightily with pressure and rushing throws far too often. Despite not putting up sack numbers, Khalil Mack wasn’t able to be productive or make a great impact, and he seems to get lost in pass situations at times, being rendered useless to easily.
10-(9) Tennessee Titans
Zach Mettenberger had a solid performance against the strong Texans defense, flashing once again his ability to handle pressure and still lead an effective offense. His shoulder injury will be a concern moving forward, though. Taylor Lewan was out for the Titans and Bishop Sankey once against saw just 10 carries.
11-(10) Arizona Cardinals
John Brown has seemed to be replaced by JARON Brown as the team’s inside threat, but he still garnered five targets. Maybe he was just more comfortable with Carson Palmer. With Tyrann Mathieu out, Deone Bucannon will need to be strongly leaned on. He’s been great in pass coverage this year as a short-mid area cover safety.
12-(12) Cincinnati Bengals
Jeremy Hill saw just 13 carries and four catches, and once against wasn’t allowed to be the feature of the offense despite showing he can. Both numbers, however, were more than GIovani Bernard. Darqueze Dennard didn’t get any snaps against the Texans after getting work two weeks ago.
13-(13) Carolina Panthers
Kelvin Benjamin was still the featured target in the offense (12 targets), but was unable to get free outside of one 30 yard catch against Josh Robinson. His rookie of the year hopes are likely fading with the Panthers last-chance playoff hopes.
14-(14) Baltimore Ravens
CJ Mosley led a stifling performance by the Ravens’ run defense, holding the Chargers rushing performance at bay. While it didn’t lead to a win, Mosley did his part. He’ll need to pick up his play moving forward with Haloti Ngata suspended the next four games.
15-(15) Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams’s role in the offense has been sporadic, but he was the match-up they chose to target against the Patriots, grabbing six catches on ten targets and a 121 yards. He’s likely being groomed as the team’s #2 option next year with Randall Cobb potentially leaving in free agency. HaHa Clinton-Dix played really well against Gronkowski, maybe his best performance of the year considering the impact he needed to make.
16-(16) Miami Dolphins
Ja’Wuan James actually played quite well against a talented Broncos pass-rush, which allowed Ryan Tannehill plenty of time to attack vertically. He’s had multiple successful games at right and left tackle this year. Jarvis Landry has become the new key to the passing game, as he’s their best short and mid-range route runner. He say 9 targets, 7 catches and 50 yards (all team highs) and two scores.
17-(17) Philadelphia Eagles
Jordan Matthews had another impactful game for the Eagles, catching another touchdown from Mark Sanchez and aiding in the blowout win over the Cowboys. He’s clearly established that Riley Cooper is expendable next year.
18-(18) Dallas Cowboys
Zach Martin played well, as the rest of the line did, in giving Tony Romo time, but Martin and the offensive line didn’t allow DeMarco Murray to spring free and give the offense the jump start it needed.
19-(20) Chicago Bears
Kyle Fuller struggled mightily against Calvin Johnson, which was to be expected. He allowed both of Johnson’s thanksgiving touchdowns, along with 11 catches total, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Will Sutton got the start vs. the Lions, and played well attacking the interior linemen.
20-(21) New Orleans Saints
With Brandin Cooks out for the year, the Saints have no other drafted players making an impact on their roster. Ronald Powell, their 5th round pick, didn’t see a snap. Pierre Warren, an undrafted safety, has been asked to fill in at free safety.
21-(22) Pittsburgh Steelers
Ryan Shazier was out again, but he’s expected back next week from a sprained MCL. Martavis Bryant’s role in the offense has vanished, and he saw just one 23-yard catch against Keenan Lewis.
22-(19) Houston Texans
Alfred Blue saw just six yards on seven carries, and has shown he won’t be all that useful as a spell back against adequate run defenses. Jadeveon Clowney didn’t play again, and injury concerns have once again pushed him out of the lineup.
23-(23) Atlanta Falcons
Jake Matthews was huge in the team’s offensive output, and played his best game as a pass blocker in my opinion. If he can give Ryan that blindside protection the rest of the season, he’ll help protect this team to a playoff berth.
24-(24) Washington Redskins
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland allowed just two catches against the highly productive Colts, much better than David Amerson, his teammate, who allowed a combined four touchdowns.
25-(30) Indianapolis Colts
Jack Mewhort was fine as the team’s left guard. Donte Moncrief has FINALLY moved past Hakeem Nicks in the offense, and caught two touchdowns on three catches. He had 28 asnaps compared to Hakeem Nicks’s 17 (with zero targets).
26-(27) Seattle Seahawks
Justin Britt has grown into a plus-run blocker, and he’s become a catalyst for Marshawn Lynch’s running success. Maybe he wasn’t an over-picked offensive lineman that I anticipated throughout the season.
27-(25) Denver Broncos
Bradley Roby surprisingly saw just one target as the team’s starter opposite Chris Harris at cornerback, and playing 46 snaps. While the Chiefs aren’t great competition for a cornerback, his play was encouraging.
28-(26) New York Jets
Jace Amaro didn’t play against the Dolphins. Calvin Pryor saw 24 snaps, most of which were in passing situations, and one standout play against Jarvis Landry to limit a big play.
29-(28) Detroit Lions
Eric Ebron saw three catches, and one drop, and once again was underwhelming, despite the offensive production. Kyle Van Noy played just 5 snaps, but the defense hasn’t seem to need him.
30-(29) New England Patriots
Dominique Easley saw just 11 snaps and nothing really to show for it.
31-(31) San Diego Chargers
Jeremiah Attaochu returned to the defense, and while he didn’t make a great impact, his return gives this team a plus-rusher as they push towards the playoffs.
32-(32) Kansas City Chiefs
Zach Fulton still earned the start at right guard. DeAnthony Thomas saw just five snaps, two catches for combined five yards.