When looking at the top rookies in the league for the first half of the season, as teams start to find out who they are, there have been some big time game changers that have come into the league and are putting up big time numbers. I’ll go off an name the top 5 on both sides in no particular order.
1.) Kyler Murray, QB, ARI- The number 1 pick in this past draft for the Cardinals has been off to a great individual start although it hasn’t directly related to a lot of wins just yet. Although he hasn’t quite figured out how to finish these games yet, Murray has played at a level that’s good enough to keep them there. The fact he’s getting it done through the air and on the ground shows just how big time of a player he is at this point posting 2,413 passing yards with a 61.2 comp. % and 24 passing TD’s to 17 picks along with 574 yards and a TD on the ground. Murray has been big time and as this team continues to grow and be built around him this team will continue to improve.
2.) Josh Jacobs, HB, OAK- As the only RB taken in the 1st round of this past draft, Jacobs has proven to be a handful so far into his rookie season posting 907 rushing yards (which place him 11th in the league) on 186 attempts for an almost 5 yards per carry average. He’s also gotten in for 11 rushing TD’s and even a receiving TD as well. He hasn’t quite been as effective receiving out of the backfield but with his ability to get it done on the ground I think he’s working out just fine for a Raiders team that still only has 1 loss.
3.) Miles Sanders, HB, PHI- The 2nd round pick from Penn State has played really solid football to this point in the season with 879 rushing yards on only 157 attempts for a whopping 5.6 average. He has ran for 9 TD’s and although he hasn’t made much impact in the passing game, he also has a receiving TD. Sanders has helped this Eagles team stay afloat with a 4-5 record as they are in the think of it for wild card contention. I’m sure the plan is to continue to utilize his skills on the ground as they hope he improves a pass catcher as the season goes on.
4.) D.K. Metcalf, WR, SEA- The Seahawks have found their new number 1 after the release and surprising retirement of Doug Baldwin. Although they’re 4-6, Metcalf has come on really strong this season as he’s currently 8th in the league in receiving yards with 906 and tied for 3rd in receptions with 52 although he only has 6 receiving TD’s to show for it. He’s proven to be a big time player and as his route running matches his physical talent he could wreak havoc for years to come.
5.) Dawson Knox, TE, BUF- Knox has been a really bright spot in a very uncharacteristically dark season for the Bills. Knox leads the whole league in receptions (59), leads TE’s in receiving yards (721) and is 2nd amongst TE’s for TD’s (6). Knox has given some players flashes of another dominant receiving threat at TE for this Bills team in the past......Kropog. Although it hasn’t quite translated to wins just yet watch as Knox finishes down the stretch and develops.
1.) Devin White, MLB, TB- Devin White has been such a monster this year on the defensive side of the ball as he quarterbacks this defense in Tampa. Coming in with 87 total tackles, 9 of those for loss, to go along with 1.5 sacks. His ability to force turnovers and stop the pass are underrated as well with his 4 picks, 6 deflections and a forced fumble with one defensive TD. Devin White has been playing at a ridiculously high level and the league should notice.
2.) Brian Burns, EDGE, CAR- Burns has been arguably the most effective edge player from this draft class as he’s already posted 12 tackles for loss, 10 sacks on 33 tackles. With such impressive numbers through 9 games he’s helped keep this struggling Panthers team remain optimistic with his play on the defensive side of the ball. His ability to make plays in the run game as well as get to the passer has proved to be really valuable to this defense.
3.) Sione Takitaki, MLB, CLE- The Browns have been an impressive team this season and a big part of that has been Takitaki as he’s been amazing in just making plays in the run game and passing game with 63 total tackles that include 13 tackles for loss to go along with 10 picks and 2 pass deflections. He’s also returned 4 picks for scores and has manned the middle of a very tough defense.
4.) Byron Murphy, CB, ARI- Murphy has locked down the outside for the Cards with good run support and ability in coverage. 55 total tackles with 4 tackles for loss and 6 picks with 10 pass deflections which is up pier tier in the league for a cornerback to this point in the season. As the season progresses and Murphy continues to grow it’ll be interesting to see how he grows in this season with the Cards.
5.) Juan Thornhill, S, KC- Thornhill was placed in an amazing situation in Kansas City with an offense led by Mahomes and a defense that includes Byron Jones, Kendall Fuller and Honey Badger. With such great guys to learn from around him Thornhill has flourished with 51 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 6 picks, 4 deflections and 2 TD’s. Thornhill still has the back half to go but he looks to be developing into a superstar.