- Five weeks into the NFL season, several of the first-round rookies at offensive skill positions are already leaving their marks.
Five games into the 2018 NFL season, which offensive first-round draft picks are already showing their teams that they made the right decision when picking them? Let’s catch up with the rookie offensive-skill position players to see how each is doing.
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants: Though the Giants are 1–4, Barkley has lived up the hype and has done everything possible to keep this team in games. Barkley had his first multi-touchdown game Sunday, one of which came on a 57-yard bomb thrown by receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Eli Manning threw a shallow pass to Beckham who aired it out across the field to a wide open Barkley for New York’s longest pass play of the season. Barkley’s first career touchdown, a 68-yard run against the Jaguars in Week 1, still stands as the longest rush in the league so far this season. According to a ProFootballTalk report via the NFL, Barkley became only the third player in league history to register 100 or more yards from scrimmage in each of the first five games of his career on Sunday, matching former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who did it in 2007, and Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, who did it last season.
DJ Moore, WR, Panthers: The Panthers have been bringing Moore along slowly. The wide receiver had his best game of the season Sunday against the Giants, catching all four passes thrown his way. Moore was also involved in a reverse play—RB Christian McCaffrey took the handoff and then flipped Moore the ball—that tricked the Giants defense and set up for a Curtis Samuel touchdown on the next play. Moore broke a few tackles on the run, showing off his ability to get yards after contact, one of his biggest strengths in the draft process last spring. Moore evaded a couple Falcons defenders on a 51-yard catch and run for a touchdown in week two.
Hayden Hurst, TE, Ravens: Late in the preseason, Hurst underwent a procedure to fix a stress fracture in his foot and was sidelined for the first four games, but the 25-year-old rookie tight end finally made his NFL debut Sunday against the Browns. He had one reception, catching the first pass Joe Flacco sent his way, a seven-yard pass on the first play of the Ravens second drive. Flacco targeted him one other time, on third down in overtime with the game tied 9-9. Hurst didn’t get the catch, forcing the Ravens to punt the ball away. The Browns won it with a field goal on the next drive.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Falcons: Ridley was named NFL offensive rookie of the month for the month of September. After a two-touchdown game against the Bengals in Week 4, Ridley set an all-time record as the first rookie in NFL history to catch six touchdowns in the team’s first four games. His six touchdown receptions are currently the most among all NFL players. Ridley has benefitted from playing across from Julio Jones, who commands so much attention and coverage from defenses that Ridley has been able to take advantage of those matchups. Jones leads the league in receiving yards with more than 200 yards over Ridley, but he has been held without a touchdown this year.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seahawks: Penny broke his index finger during the preseason, and has since fallen behind both Chris Carson and Mike Davis on the Seahawks depth chart. Even when Carson was inactive with an injury in Week 4, Penny still took a backseat to Davis, who played 47 snaps compared to Penny's 16, and had 25 carries compared to Penny’s nine touches. On Sunday against the Rams, Carson shared the load with Davis, and Penny was used only as a kick returner. He has 92 yards on 29 carries for the season so far.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: Michel got off to a slow start this season, totaling just 84 yards on his first 24 carries (3.5 yards per carry). However after strong performances in week four and week five, Michel is now fifth in the league in rushing yards this season with 294 yards on 67 carries,(4.4 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. New England has a versatile running back group including Michel and James White, who has been used more in the passing game this season. Michel rushed for 112 yards, his only hundred-yard game so far, against the Dolphins in Week 4, and he almost had back-to-back 100-yards game, but was two yards short against the Colts.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Conor Orr on Isaiah Crowell’s 200-yard rushing day and what that means for the Jets ... Jonathan Jones on how Odell Beckham Jr. handled his controversial ESPN interview with his coaches and teammates. ... Andy Benoit makes his pick for Washington at New Orleans on Monday Night Football. ... Gary Gramling’s must-read Sunday Freakout.
1. Referee Walt Coleman defended his controversial roughing the passer call on Michael Bennett. Bennett was flagged for hitting Kirk Cousins low, but he appeared to have been blocked into that position by Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph.
2. The injury-plagued 49ers will be without running back Matt Breida for the next few weeks.
3. What's an NFL Sunday without a multiple-act Odell Beckham Jr. drama?
• Act One: ESPN interview airs in which Beckham airs his grievances with the Giants offense and playcalling (can anyone explain why Lil Wayne was sitting in on the interview without ever talking?)
• Act Two: Odell throws a touchdown pass.
• Act Three: Giants head coach Pat Shurmur is not pleased.
• Act Four: Odell has no regrets.
4. Derek Carr broke his promise to Marshawn Lynch.
This was a nice moment on a really really bad day for Packers kicker Mason Crosby.
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at firstname.lastname@example.org