Archive for December, 2014

Quarterback

Derek Carr

Carr’s career looks the most optimistic of the rookie QB’s from the ‘14 class. Johnny Manziel has yet to do anything spectacular. Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, and Zach Mettenberger all struggled with traditional rookie roadblocks. Their future’s not decided yet, but they’ve all been outplayed by the Fresno State standout. Carr’s led his team in wins over Kansas City and San Francisco, two above average defenses. A top three overall pick and in 2015 and some young developing players on the offensive line should help guide Carr towards a better season in 2015.

Running backs

Jeremy Hill

Hill has been a revelation for Cincinnati this season. Giovani Bernard who had an impressive rookie season in 2013 is almost an afterthought with the brutal running style that Hill brings to the Bengals offense. No rookie runner has so consistently punished defenses like Hill. Hill brings a punishing running attack to Cincinnati not seen since Corey Dillon wore orange and black. Hill should have a LeVeon Bell-like coming out party in 2015 if the offense can block for him.

Tre Mason

Tre Mason didn’t take off right away for St. Louis but since he’s been starting he’s secured the lead back role in St. Louis. Mason’s biggest game came against Oakland with 17 touches resulting in 160 yards from scrimmage and three trips to the endzone. The Auburn product has a ways to go to be mentioned among the NFL’s top backs, but has started by building one of the better rookie seasons for a running back in recent memory. Mason has struggled against the league’s better run defenses, like Arizona or Washington.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans

Evans leads all rookie wideouts with touchdown catches with 11 and 948 receiving yards. Evans has the size and speed to be a mismatch but also has the hands and football IQ to consistently get open and make plays. Experience and developing trust with his QB should only add to the playmaker’s effectiveness in shredding defenses.

Odell Beckham

Odell Beckham is already one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL. He lacks the size of Kelvin Benjamin or Mike Evans but Beckham has crazy speed and great hands as displayed in the past few weeks with his highlight reel of catches. Beckham is the best wide receiver in New York and will be a franchise star for the next decade barring significant injury.

Tight End

Jace Amaro

The tight ends of 2014 haven’t made the aggressive showing that wide receivers have. Amaro has been the most utilized of the rookie tight ends as a pass-catcher. Down the road, Eric Ebron, Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Richard Rodgers may surface as the most successful tight end out of the 2014 class. But right now Amaro leads rookie tight ends in receiving yardage with 311 yards on 35 catches out of 47 targets and two touchdowns. Amaro is actually the number two target in the meadowlands for receptions (35) and receiving touchdowns (2) behind Eric Decker. Amaro’s a reliable target who’s best football’s ahead of him.

Offensive Linemen

Guards

Zack Martin

Martin is a very important cog in the well-oiled machine that is the Dallas Cowboys offensive line. The Cowboys rank #1 in run blocking efficiency according to footballoutsiders.com. A large part of DeMarco Murray’s legendary season has to do with Martin’s ability to create holes for Murray to run through. Martin’s got a bright future on a studly Cowboys offensive line.

Joel Bitonio

Bitonio has started every game since being drafted in the second round out of Nevada. Bitonio’s high level of play has elevated Cleveland’s offensive line to fifth in the league in pass protection metrics, up from 17th overall from the 2013 season. Bitonio looks to solidify the Browns left side for years to come with his consistent pass-blocking.

Center

Corey Linsley

A handful of rookies are starting at Center for NFL teams. Marcus Martin for San Francisco, James Stone for Atlanta. Luke BoWanko for Jacksonville. Green Bay’s Corey Linsley has been the most stable of the bunch. Time will tell if Bodine in Cincinnati or Bryan Stork in New England will develop into a top-caliber players. But Linsley’s stable play on a consistent basis earns him the top spot here.

Tackles

Seantrel Henderson

Henderson was drafted in the seventh round, and hasn’t been an elite tackle this season. But Henderson’s body of work has been more reliable and evidential of consistent OT play more so than Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson and a slew of other high pick offensive linemen from this year’s draft.

Ja’Wuan James

Miami’s offensive line may have been the worst unit of 2013. Ranking 28 out of 32 in run blocking and 30 out of 32 in pass blocking. Their current ranking of 9th and 18th and James’ arrival on the offensive cannot be a coincidence. The Dolphins offensive line is not a top five group, but a much improved showing over last year. Lamar Miller, the Dolphins lead back is on a pace for 947 yards rushing, a career high. Miller has James’ solid play on the Dolphins line to thank.

(All stats courtesy of footballoutsiders.com and nfl.com)