Skill Position Rookie Class Could Be Best Ever
Take a look at the passing leaders in the NFL through three weeks of the season. Two of the top quarterbacks are rookies, while another is a second year player with no experience as a rookie last year. And, none of the three are top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft Jared Goff.
Number two selection Carson Wentz has the Philadelphia Eagles off to a 3-0 start, and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive players calling him a Hall of Fame player! Wentz torched the Steelers for 301 yards at almost 10 yards per pass attempt. For the season, Wentz has a QB Rating of 103.8. He has five TD passes with no interceptions. And, there were scouts of some teams that claimed he didn’t have the polished skills to be a first round pick! Sounds like there are some scouts that don’t have the skills to be NFL scouts.
Dak Prescott was not expected to see much action if any this year for the Dallas Cowboys, but his play could conceivably make Tony Romo the Wally Pipp of football. Combining with fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott, Prescott has the Cowboys’ offense looking like the old Roger Staubach/Tony Dorsett team. Prescott is averaging 256 passing yards per game to go with a big enough running threat to force defenses to spy on him rather than key on Elliott. The threat that Prescott can fake to Elliott going one way, while keeping and going the other way is enough to give Elliott just enough room to break free for long gains.
Elliott is on pace for more than 1,460 yards rushing. Defenses have to stop his threat, which means Prescott has a bit more time to locate Dez Bryant, Jason Whitten, Terrance Williams, and the surprising Cole Beasley, who is on pace to grab more than 100 passed for close to 1,150 yards. The NFC East could be the most exciting division in the NFL thanks to the two rookie QBs joining Eli Manning to make this a wide-open race.
He is only the third string quarterback, but New England’s Jacoby Brissett isn’t that far behind Prescott talentwise. Brissett played conservatively and made few mistakes in his game and a half action after Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury against Miami.
Elliott isn’t the only running back excelling through three games. In Oakland, Jalen Richard has averaged 8.6 yards per carry, including a big touchdown run of 75 yards. Richard was an undrafted free agent, so 31 other teams missed the boat on him.
While Richard has been threatening to break off long runs with every touch, it’s another rookie in silver and black that has been picking up the bruising yards between the guards. DeAndre Washington, a fifth round pick out of Texas Tech, is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and is proving to be as efficient at picking up first downs as Hewritt Dixon and Mark van Eeghen once did for the champion Raiders’ teams of the past.
Wendell Smallwood has been a consistent gainer for the Eagles. The fifth round choice from West Virginia converted numerous first downs against Pittsburgh, rushing for five or more yards on seven different attempts after the Eagles took the lead.
As good as the quarterback and running back group of rookies are, the wide receiver spot may be the best of all. Before breaking his hand, former Baylor standout Corey Coleman was off to a smashing start with Cleveland. First round pick Will Fuller disappeared against New England last week, but the former Notre Dame star topped 100 receiving yards in both of Houston’s first two games. Sterling Shepard was highly heralded coming out of Oklahoma, and the second round choice has given Eli Manning and the Giants an excellent compliment to Odell Beckham, Jr. Fellow second round pick Michael Thomas from Ohio State could emerge as Drew Brees’ top receiver in New Orleans.
He isn’t a rookie, but it is his first year of experience, so Trevor Siemian Denver was expected to struggle and win close games with defense after losing Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. Osweiler is doing a less than mediocre job with Houston, while rookie Trevor Siemian looks like a long-term solution in the Mile High City. Siemian has looked better in each successive game so far, and he looked like an Elway or Manning in Denver’s road win against the Bengals. He passed for 312 yards and four scores against a playoff-caliber defense, as the Broncos improved to 3-0.
This Week’s Ratings
|Current NFL PiRate Ratings|
|A F C|
|N. Y. Jets||101.6||99.6||102.6||101.3||61||42|
|N F C|
This Week’s Spreads
September 29-October 3, 2016
|New York Jets||Seattle||-1.6||-0.7||-1.4||42|
|San Diego||New Orleans||5.8||4.3||6.1||60|
|Minnesota||New York Giants||10.9||10.2||12.1||45|