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Green Zone League Articles

Examining the Production of the Rookie Top Picks
By Keith Van Wagner
Special to gzl-football.com

This article looks at the Top 10 picks from the draft and tries to evaluate their performance, based on the performance of other rookies. So maybe that HB you got in the first round is doing pretty well...but maybe there's a guy with similar stats who was taken in the 4th round. So this article tries to capture how each of the Top 10 are doing relative to other picks. All rankings are based on only rookie stats

1.1 – QB Kendall Irving, Texans. Despite not starting the first few games, Kendall Irving has ended up having a stunningly good rookie season. The Texans are 11-3 and have Super Bowl dreams dancing in their heads. Much of this is due in large part to the much-hyped QB out of Iowa. While not flashy in his first season, he has been incredibly efficient, managing 22 touchdowns against a mere 7 interceptions thus far. His last 4 games have featured a QB rating over 100, including a 379 yard, 5 TD day against the Dolphins in week 15.
Yards Rank: 3rd; Rating Rank: 1st; TDs Rank: 1st

1.2 – CB Jamar Taylor, 49ers. Taylor was the second player off the board and the first CB. Has he played like the best? Not yet. Though it appears he has started most every week, he has managed only 1 interception thus far, in week 8, for -1 yard. This is not to say his performance has been poor. He has managed 18 deflections in total, and allowed a reasonable 38 catches. From this, his CB Efficiency is 1.90, good enough for 12th among rookies. Taylor has also notched 55 tackles and 4 TFL.
Interceptions Rank: T-16th; CB Efficiency Rank: 12th

1.3 – CB Travis Murphy, Colts. Many expected Murphy, the rookie out of Tennessee, to go 2nd overall, but when he fell to the Colts they were happy to take him. Whether or not one favors Taylor of Murphy, empirically, at least so far, Murphy has out-performed Taylor. Murphy has 3 picks on the year, second best among rookies. So far Murphy has also managed 17 deflections against 40 catches allowed. While not as good as Taylor, Murphy’s 3 picks works out to a CB Efficiency of 1.74, which is slightly better. Murphy has 2 fumble recoveries, including one returned for a TD.
Interceptions Rank: 2nd; CB Efficiency Rank: 9th

1.4 – RT Lane Johnson, Bucs. Lane Johnson is one of the more physically gifted linemen to come out in some time, so it’s a little surprising to see how his production has gone in his first season. It’s not been bad, but one would not guessed that Tyrone O’Neal would outpace Johnson. Johnson has 56 pancakes in his rookie season, third behind Menelik Watson (drafted 2.1) and O’Neal (2.27). But he has allowed 8 sacks, which is among the worst for rookies. Only 10 offensive tackles have seen significant playing time this year, and Johnson’s sack/pancake ratio is 8th among them.
Pancakes: 3rd; sacks allowed: 9th of 9

1.5 - MLB Kenrick Nielson, Cowboys. Of the four rookie MLBs that have seen significant playing time, Nielson has been by far the most productive. This season he has recorded 89 tackles, almost doubling Hugh Harmon, taken at 1.9. Nielson also leads rookie MLBs in tackles for loss, with 12. The next closest is 5. With 3 picks so far, Nielson not only leads all MLBs, but is tied for second among all rookies. Nielson hasn’t been exceptional in coverage however, allowing 15 catches and deflecting only 7.
Tackles: 1st; TFL: 1st; Interceptions: 1st.

1.6 – OT Terron Armstead, Packers. When drafted in the Top 10, some observers felt that Armstead was something of a reach. So far, Armstead has been able to hang with the big boys. Not that he has blown away the competition. Earl Cote, a 5th rounder in Seattle has empirically outperformed Amrstead. This isn’t to say Cote is better, or has more potential. But the numbers so far this season don’t lie.
Pancakes: 7th; sacks allowed: 3rd

1.7 – HB Le’Veon Bell, Dolphins. Bell was the first of 3 HBs taken in the first round. Currently he is third in rushing yards amongst all rookies, with a total of just over 1,000 yards. So Bell is definitely living up to his promise. In the second half of the season Bell has found his stride, rushing for 100+ yards in 3 of the past 5 games. If there is a knock on the rookie, it’s his strikingly low yards per carry. It stands at 3.5 per attempt, and in only 4 games this season has he cracked more than 4 yards a clip.
Yards: 3rd; TDs: T-2nd.

1.8 – CB David Amerson, Vikings. The book on Amerson when he was drafted was that he was a physical specimen, but rather raw. In his rookie season, this has proven to be the case. The NC State product has picked off 2 passes in his initial campaign, both coming in the 2nd half of the season. However, he has yet to master defending the pass, with the 2nd most catches allowed amongst the rookies. To balance his 55 CTHA, he has managed only 17 deflections. Of all CBs with more than 10 deflections, he has the lowest CB Efficiency of any rookie.
Interceptions Rank: 5T; CB Efficiency Rank: 20th

1.9 – MLB Hugh Harmon, Dolphins. Harmon has been an excellent MLB this season and has shown he’s worthy of a first rounder. However, his production hasn’t been too far off of Moe Jackson, taken 34 slots later. Harmon has 50 tackles and 5 TFLs. The Dolphins have moved to a 3-4 look which has hurt Harmon’s production. If you’re taking a MLB in the top 10, it seems like the Dolphins would want to run a 4-3.
Tackles: 2nd; TFL: T-2nd; Interceptions: None.

1.10 – CB Cobrani Rogers, Packers. Rogers was another selection that many felt may have been made too early. The early production suggests Rogers needs more time to develop as a CB. On one hand, Rogers leads all CBs in tackles with 71. However, this seems to be in large part due to the number of catches the rookie allows. Rogers leads all first year players in catches allowed with 62. Granted, Rogers has also deflected 23, third best among rookies and picked off 2 passes. But Rogers allows way too many completions.
Interceptions Rank: 5T; CB Efficiency Rank: 17th
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