Transitioning into the NFL is hard. It’s an important reminder for all of us who are quick to judge players based on rookie seasons. But now that the 2017 Rookie Class has a year under their belt, we can start to sharpen the focus on the microscope.
Below, we check in with 8 high profile players from the 2017 Rookie Class and see how their 2018 season debuts went.
Still Got It – DE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns
Garrett played every single snap of the Browns’ 21-21 tie (TIE!) against Pittsburgh. That’s a whopping 84 plays, and yet Garrett was still a dominating presence into the late stages of overtime. Garrett would have himself a padded day in the stat sheet, too.
6 total tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
The 2017 1st-overall pick was touted coming out as a rare breed, and it’s looking like Garrett is ready to prove the pundits right after his dominant performance against the Steelers.
Still Not It – DE Derek Barnett, Philadelphia Eagles
Roll call for Barnett in Week 1? Two tackles. Equal to the number of offsides penalties he had. Also equal to the number of sacks he negated with said offsides penalties.
Barnett had an okay season for the Eagles in 2017, playing sparingly as a rotational defender. The good news? Even if just for one game, Barnett’s snap percentage was up in a big way. After logging 41% of snaps as a rookie, Barnett started and played in nearly 60% of the Eagles’ snaps in a hard earned victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
Sending Flowers – RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
I, for one, am hoping for the quickest hamstring recovery of all time. Fournette went down with a lame hammy in the Jaguars’ 20-15 win over the Giants on Sunday afternoon, finishing the day with just 9 carries (a career low).
The Jaguars made out alright with T.J. Yeldon stepping in, but the end result of this game was Jacksonville was tasked with passing the ball too much while playing with a lead. If the Jags need to put the ball in QB Blake Bortles’ hands to win, it won’t bode well for their season.
The silver lining, Fournette told ESPN’s Josina Anderson after the game that he’ll be on the field next week. We hope so.
— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) September 9, 2018
Get well soon, Leonard!
Showing Promise – DE Taco Charlton, Dallas Cowboys
What if I told you that Charlton, who some Dallas fans have disowned because they wanted someone else in the 2017 Draft, played pretty well?
What if I told you that Charlton looked as quick as he ever has against Carolina. Do the Panthers have All-Pro tackles? No. But Charlton was an active presence up front, showing better balance and short area agility than he showed for much of the season.
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) September 10, 2018
He also broke out his patented spin move, having success against Taylor Moton to log a hit on QB Cam Newton.
First play following RT Daryl Williams out. Silatolu gets beat by Lawrence with speed. Taco Charlton puts Moton in the spin cycle. Cam gets it out quick to avoid the sack pic.twitter.com/2XaoPKpOTI
— Panthers Source🎙️📺 (@PanthersSource) September 10, 2018
Still Got It – LB T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
Shield your eyes, Cowboys fans! In a cruel twist of fate, Watt (the golden goose of the previously mentioned disgruntled Cowboys fans) follows Taco in today’s roll call.
NOTE: I definitely, DEFINITELY didn’t do that on purpose.
Watt logged 4 sacks and a game preserving field goal block in Cleveland, bringing his career totals to 11.0 sacks and 2 blocked kicks in 16 career starts.
I profiled Watt yesterday if you’d like to read more on his performance.
Still Not It – QB DeShone Kizer, Green Bay Packers
Yeah, no. To put a spin on a famous line from Ms. Regina George:
Stop trying to make DeShone Kizer happen. It’s not going to happen.
Kizer was called into duty after Aaron Rodgers was carted off the field in Lambeau. Kizer answered the call in a way only he can: Several promising throws to move the Packers into scoring position before walking into a sack and fumbling the ball into the lap of Khalil Mack in the process.
Khalil Mack to DeShone Kizer (probably).
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) September 10, 2018
Oh yeah, and then there was the intercepted screen pass just before halftime that Mack ran in for a defensive touchdown. Forgot about that one. (No I didn’t.)
— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) September 10, 2018
Thankfully, Aaron Rodgers returned in the second half and saved the day, as the Packers stormed back and beat Chicago 24-23.
Sending Flowers – OT Cam Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
Another Jaguar in need of flowers? Robinson may need a pick-me-up after the film review of yesterday’s game is over.
His play was by and large fine, but he reverted to some old habits from his college days, logging three penalties, several of which were in key down and distance situations.
Old habits die hard, but Jacksonville needs to hope Robinson can put those in his rear view mirror and play with renewed focus going forward.
Showing Promise – RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
In a stunning sign of good coaching, Marvin Lewis allowed Joe Mixon to dominate the carries in an opening win over Indianapolis. Cincinnati would score the final 24 points in this football game, thanks in part to Mixon’s play.
With 85% of the carries and another 5 pass catches, Mixon looks well on his way to reaching his lofty ceiling as a football player. This usage comes after a rookie season in which Mixon saw the field on less than 40% of the team’s snaps.