The 2018 rookies are on the cusp of officially reaching the halfway mark of their first season in the league. The class, as is the case every year, has some early standouts, some disappointing injuries and some surprise stars. But what can this year’s class expect in the second half of their rookie season? Here are some bold predictions for the second half of the 2018 NFL season for this year’s group.
Kerryon Johnson goes over 1,000
Johnson has broken the long curse of Detroit backs. It’s been a hot sec since a Lions RB went over 100 rushing yards in a game but Johnson has done it twice in the first half of the season. Not too shabby for the 2nd-round pick.
But here’s the thing: Johnson has only played in six games. And sitting at 444 rushing yards through six games (and just three starts), the four figure mark is right there for the taking.
I think he gets it, which may not be a bold prediction. That is of course until you look at the remaining slate of games.
- Vikings x2
- Bears x2
Each of these four teams is in the top 12 in the league in rushing yardage allowed this season. But Detroit’s off-season focus was getting physical on the ground. I think they stay true to that.
Saquon Barkley tops 2,000
It was going to be pretty damn tough to meet the expectations set on Saquon Barkley this summer. After being taken second overall, Barkley entered the year as “the guy the Giants took instead of a QB.”
Well, guess what? Barkley has 1,016 offensive yards from scrimmage through eight games.
- 519 rushing yards
- 497 receiving yards (58 receptions)
That is…a lot of offense. And I think Saquon finishes just as potent as he has started. Some days, he’ll get you on the ground. On other days, like Sunday against the Redskins, Barkley will gouge you as a check down receiver.
We can argue the finer points of running back value and how the Giants are running their offense all we want, it doesn’t take away from Barkley’s spectacular season.
I’ll go one further: I think Barkley is your unanimous rookie of the year, too.
Baker Mayfield is the only starting rookie QB with a positive TD:INT ratio
Sorry, Ravens fans…I don’t count Lamar’s sparing snaps and throws. And gee whiz I can’t wait to hear how triggered you are, Jets and Cardinals fans! But give me a second to explain: the supporting groups of all four of this year’s young passers suck. And that’s okay.
I’ve been really encouraged by the early early signs we’ve seen from Darnold (11 TDs/10 INTs), Mayfield (7 TDs/6 INTs) and Rosen (5 TDs/6 INTs). Each of the three have shown the ability to process information and understand how to throw receivers open when afforded the chance to pass down the field.
But I trust Cleveland’s remaining schedule more than New York’s (Buffalo twice, New England twice, the Packers and a ball-hawking Dolphins’ secondary) down the stretch. And Arizona’s receivers are just so bad I don’t think Rosen will have the chance to keep up.
Cincinnati’s Jessie Bates III ties a Ronnie Lott record
Wait, what? You read that right. The NFL record for defensive touchdowns in a rookie season is three, held by Ronnie Lott (1981) and Lem Barney (1967).
Bates got his first touchdown of his career this past weekend against Tampa Bay, a 21-yard pick six that helped the Bengals hold on for a win and push Jameis Winston to the bench.
Why do I think Bates has the goods? He’s such a damn good ball hawk and he’s got really good cornerbacks around him in the secondary. Bates had early-second round tape. From my 2018 report:
“Ball skills: A proven nose for the football. Zone IQ and length have proven handy in creating “right place, right time” situations to take advantage of a tip of the ball.”
Stay aggressive, Cincinnati. Let that young man prosper.
Bradley Chubb just misses tying Jevon Kearse’s rookie sack record
Chubb through eight games in his rookie season in Denver: 7.0 sacks
For non-math majors, that’s on pace for 14 in a 16 game season. That’s also 0.5 less than Jevon Kearse’s rookie record of 14.5, set back in 1999 with the Tennessee Titans. I think Chubb gets close. But 5.5 of Chubb’s sacks have come in the last three games.
I don’t think that pace is sustainable. And as a result, Chubb is going to be a close miss for the record books.