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Green Zone League Articles

Rookies at Mid-Season
By Ian Coyle
Special to gzl-football.com

KVW has his usual column highlighting a top 10 for rookie of the year. I wanted to dive a little deeper and look at a couple guys each for Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year, and get a little more detail on them. Like KVW, I'm mainly going to be looking at the raw stats, but record DOES play some role in where someone ends up in the final polling, so I will mention team performance on some of the players.

Offensive Rookie of the Year:

QB
There hasn't been much splash on the Offensive side of the ball in this rookie class. Top QB pick Bo Callahan hasn't seen much of the field to this point in the season and the other two QB's that have been starting have not really played that well, both at or below 50 QBR. It sounds like Bo may get a chance to see the field in the second half of the season, but he'd need a monster year to pull off a Rookie of the Year on half a season's worth of games.

Guy to watch: None

HB
Likewise, we haven't really seen any guys step in at HB and take over starting positions with teams. Tre Mason with the Cardinals is the cream of the crop here, accounting for 602 yards and a couple touchdowns, but his ypc is just 3.9 on the season. Bobby Rainey has played well in spots, only racking up 384 total yards from scrimmage, but he's got 6 touchdowns already including 5 on the ground. He's also averaging an astonishing 6.1 ypc. That's pretty good for a smaller guy with average strength.

Guy to watch: Bobby Rainey Baltimore

WR/TE
The WR crop was pretty deep this year, and like most years, rookie WR's have shown that they can make an impact in their rookie seasons more than most other offensive positions. This year is no exception. Only one rookie has cracked the top 10 in receiving yards league-wide, and that would be Josh Gordon from San Francisco. Nipping at his heels is Marlon Brown from the Saints. Both were first round picks and both have been major parts of their team's success. Fellow first round pick Aaron Drogan has also been a major part of the Jets' attack, but he trails the others by about 100 yards. He's also got 9 drops on the year compared to 2 for Gordon and 4 for Brown. Tight Ends don't get a ton of publicity here, mainly because I don't think anyone has found a really successful way to exploit them in this engine. Eric Ebron seems to be the best of the bunch, but he's only accounted for 378 yards, though he does have a handful of pancakes boosting his value.

Guy to watch: Josh Gordon San Francisco

OL
Aside from HB and WR, OL are probably the most common first year success stories on the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, when was the last time that you saw a lineman win Rookie of the Year? This year is going to be no different. In fact, a FB (Manning Owens of the Vikings) leads all rookies in pancakes and FB Bubba Andrews from New Orleans is 3rd. That said the two guys that have the best impact right now are Greg Robinson from the Raiders and Edward Jacoby from the Jets. Robinson is living up to his pre-draft billing and has stepped into one of the toughest positions on the line at LT for the Raiders and only given up a single sack against 35 pancakes. The Raiders have found a longterm guy here that has been fantastic. Jacoby is playing LG, a less glamorous spot on the line, and a bit less impactful since guards are mostly helping in double teams or blocking a defensive tackle. Still Jacoby has 32 pancakes and has allowed 2 sacks.

Guy to watch: None, I don't see a lineman winning RotY

Overall Offensive Rookie of the Year:
I think Josh Gordon runs away with this one. Marlon Brown might catch him on account of more touchdowns at this point or team performance since the Niners are not playing well overall. In the end, I still think Gordon takes it.

Defensive Rookie of the Year:

DL:

Defensive lineman are sink or swim, and it mostly revolves around their ability to get pressure on the QB in the form of sacks and beat offensive linemen for tackles for loss. One needs look no further than fourth overall pick Jadeveon Clowney this year. He is leading the league in sacks with 9 already (next closest is 6 and 7 sacks!), including 6 in his last 3 games! It's a bit presumptuous to think that he can continue that pace, but the guy is a beast. His TFL has gone down as his sack totals have increased though, but that shouldn't effect him much in the final tally of things. Canton Larsson of the Dolphins is the king of TFL for rookies, but he hasn't made much of an impact outside of that with only 18 tackles and zero sacks.

Guy to watch: Jadeveon Clowney


LB:
Really just a trio of excellent guys to choose from here. CJ Mosley of the Eagles, Ricky Austin of the Saints, and Ryan Shazier of the Patriots. Mosley leads the group in tackles with 56, but also boasts 3 picks, 6 deflections, 5 TFL, and a sack. Pretty good all around MLB that the Eagles have found there. Austin has been nipping his heels all year with 54 tackles along with 7 TFL, 4 forced fumbles, 1 pick and 1 deflection. That's some pretty impressive disruption from an impact position on the field. That leaves Shazier on the outside, looking in. He's got the impressive tackle numbers at 49 and has 8 TFL and a sack, but nothing else. This position comes down to Mosley or Austin.

Guy to watch: Ricky Austin

DB:
Corners were the talk of this draft, and rightfully so. We had some excellent guys to pick from with Sherman, Stonewall, Gilbert, Dennard, and Riggins all going in the first round this year. None of them has made an impact. None has more than 1 interception on the season. DB's are an important cog in the wheel of any defense, but it really makes me sit back and reconsider my draft boards. Is a position that makes this little statistical impact in the first year worth spending such a high draft pick on? No doubt many of these guys will blossom into studs down the road, but historically these guys just get burned in coverage for a couple seasons before really coming into their own. Some safeties have played pretty well though. Deone Bucannon from Pittsburgh, Chris Conte from New Orleans and Jersey Harbinger from Atlanta are all holding their own with 40+ tackles on the season and Bucannon has a couple picks to boot. On the CB side of things, Sherman and Alan Hill from Philly are leading the CB's in tackles with 41 for Hill and 35 from Sherman, but as KVW pointed out in his CB article this week, Sherman is 58th overall in cornerback productivity.

Guy to watch: Deone Bucannon

Overall Defensive Rookie of the Year:
When all is said and done, I think Clowney will be the no-brainer pick. The Bears are playing fairly well to give him that piece and I think they at least make the play-offs. I think Deone Bucannon ends up with a decent line at the end of the season, but Safety is a thankless job when it comes to awards, just like offensive line and full back. The only guy that challenges Clowney is going to be Ricky Austin. This is primarily due to the tackle totals he will have and the all-around disruption this guy is capable of. Clowney will bring the sacks, but Austin gets the picks, forced fumbles, TFL, deflections, etc. It'll be a tough call for sure.
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