Imagine having to wait until May to play with the toys you got from Santa on Christmas Morning. Well, that’s exactly what happens with the NFL Draft. Teams draft players in late April and have to wait until September to use what they got.
With that in mind, I watched as many rookies as I possibly could in Week 1 and studied box scores to come away with the following impressions.
Five quarterbacks were taken in the first round but only Sam Darnold started in Week 1. Trevor Sikkema detailed his performance which was more modest than many believed it to be. He did some good things, especially bouncing back from his terrible pick-six on his first ever passing attempt. Like we saw in preseason, Darnold did well to find space and hit layups. It was encouraging to see him manage the game well and complement the dominant defensive performance.
Bills QB Josh Allen didn’t start in Week 1 but he did see action in the second half after a dreadful start from Nathan Peterman. Allen did well to survey the defense and hit some darts later in the game. Perhaps the most encouraging component to his performance was that he didn’t make any bone-headed decisions and was patient in the pocket while displaying good mobility.
The only other rookie QB to see the field was Lamar Jackson who go opportunities in subpackages early in the contest as a decoy/gadget player. He relieved Joe Flacco later in the second half, mostly handing the ball off to finish the game.
Benjamin Solak analyzed Allen and Jackson’s performances on Monday.
Plug and Play Offensive Lineman
The offensive line class if off to a slow start. None fared particularly well in their debuts and quite frankly, not many of them even earned starting gigs. While others saw action, here’s the entire list of offensive lineman who started in Week 1.
- Desmond Harrison, Browns
- Quenton Nelson, Colts
- Will Hernandez, Giants
- Kolton Miller, Raiders
- Frank Ragnow, Lions
- Mike McGlinchey, 49ers
- Connor Williams, Cowboys
- Billy Price, Bengals
- Mason Cole, Cardinals
Receivers Aren’t Doing Much Receiving
We talked all winter/early spring about how the 2018 class lacked any true alpha receivers that can be the focal point of an NFL passing game. There were plenty of solid No. 2’s and slots but it was collectively an underwhelming class. The Week 1 production was nearly non-existent from the group. Here’s the entire list of rookie receivers that caught a pass in Week 1.
- Anthony Miller, Bears – 2 receptions, 14 yards
- Courtland Sutton, Broncos – 2 receptions, 45 yards
- Dante Pettis, 49ers – 2 receptions, 61 yards
- Christian Kirk, Cardinals, 1 reception, 4 yards
- Michael Gallup, Cowboys – 1 reception, 9 yards
- DeAndre Carter, Eagles – 1 reception, 10 yards
Eight rookie tight ends caught a pass in Week 1 but the story here is Seattle’s Will Dissly. A blocking specialist from Washington, Dissly tallied 336 receiving yards FOR HIS CAREER in college but hauled in three passes for 105 yards and touchdown in his first taste of NFL action. With no other real competition on the roster, Dissly could end up exceeding expectations.
Ravens TE Mark Andrews was a factor in the Ravens game plan, catching three passed on four targets for 31 yards.
When it comes to rookie running backs, all eyes were on No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley who took on the dominant Jaguars defense to kickoff his career. Barkley cashed in 106 rushing yards with a touchdown, but his long of 68 leaves just 38 yards on his other 17 carries. His 68-yard rumble provides evidence that no matter who he is playing, Barkley can take it the distance at any point. He was one of just four backs in the league to eclipse 100 yards in Week 1.
Elsewhere, the Broncos rookie duo of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for 142 yards on 30 carries with the exact same stat line of 15 rushes for 71 yards each.
Jordan Wilkins played the role of lead-back for the Colts with 14 carries for 40 yards while fellow rookie Nyheim Hines had seven receptions.
Seahawks first-round pick Rashaad Penny had just 8 yards on 7 carries while Bucs second-round pick Ronald Jones was a healthy scratch. In fact, UDFA RB Shaun Wilson from Duke dressed over Jones and had a carry for Tampa Bay.
Without studying every game in depth, it’s challenging for me to come away with too many takes from the defensive rookies.
With that said, our staff did cover some of the standout performances including:
- Falcons’ DT Deadrin Senat’s stellar debut
- Four standout rookie linebackers
- Browns’ CB Denzel Ward’s big plays and lockdown coverage
- Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick impressing in Week 1
As for the splash plays, these are the rookies to record a sack in Week 1:
- Genard Avery, Browns
- Bradley Chubb, Broncos
- Roquan Smith, Bears
- Derwin James, Chargers
- Tremaine Edmunds, Bills
- Kenny Young, Ravens’
These rookies recorded an interception:
- Denzel Ward, Browns (2)
- Mike Hughes, Vikings
These rookies forced a fumble:
- Tremaine Edmunds, Bills
- Fred Warner, 49ers
- Genard Avery, Browns
First Rounders Not Playing
Pick No. 1: Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns – Hue Jackson has committed to Tyrod Taylor as his starter and Mayfield is the backup. If Taylor keeps playing like he did against Pittsburgh, Mayfield may see the field soon.
Pick No. 10: Josh Rosen, QB, Cardinals – Rosen is serving as Sam Bradford’s backup. For now…
Pick No. 12: Vita Vea, DT, Buccaneers – Vea is still dealing with a calf injury and was inactive.
Pick No. 22: Rashaan Evans, LB, Titans – Evans is recovering from the hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for the preseason.
Pick No. 23: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Patriots – After tearing his Achilles in Week 1 of the preseason, we won’t see Wynn in 2018.
Pick No. 25: Hayden Hurst, TE, Ravens – Hurst was inactive on Sunday due to a stress fracture that sidelined him for the last two weeks of the season.
Pick No. 31: Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots – The Patriots aren’t getting contributions from either 2018 first rounder as Michel has been out with a knee injury that prevented him from playing this preseason.