NFL Week 6 Power Rankings: Top 20 Rookies
Ranking the Top 20 Rookies Through Week 6
Would you look at that? Week 6 of the 2013 NFL season is already upon us, and yet it feels like it was just yesterday that Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos were smashing the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener.
So far this season, there have been a number of outstanding rookie performances around the league. From dominant offensive line showings to wide receivers racking up big yards and putting points on the board, it’s been six weeks full of heart-pounding action. That excitement is the driving force behind this power ranking.
Especially with rookies, there’s bound to be a fair share of inconsistency. From one week to the next, the difference in impact a young player makes can be astronomical. Whether it’s a tough matchup or something as simple as unrealistic expectations, it doesn’t take much to turn a budding star into a bumbling rookie.
This is where we’ll look at which rookies are on the rise and which ones are suffering from their immaturity and inexperience. It’s also an opportunity to give you a quick look at some of the most exciting young players around the league who you may not know about just yet. More than anything, it’s an opportunity to highlight some of the top up-and-coming talents who could develop into the NFL’s stars of tomorrow.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the top 20 rookies heading into Week 6 and what they’ve done to stand out since the 2013 campaign kicked off.
20. Dion Jordan, DE, Dolphins
During his limited snaps, we’ve seen promising play from the No. 3 overall pick. Unfortunately, the Dolphins aren’t giving Jordan the type of playing time we need to see just how good the rookie can be. Until then, a big question mark will hang over the explosive pass rusher.
19. Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
The concussion that knocked him out of the lineup for three weeks didn’t help, but Lacy is playing like the workhorse the Packers were looking for when they drafted him. As long as he can stay healthy and work on his patience, Lacy should be well on his way to big yards this year.
18. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Texans
After coming on strong at the start of the season, Hopkins took a big step back in the last three weeks. While there’s still plenty of reason to believe that he can be the Texans’ receiver of the future, defenses have quickly figured out that they can negate his physicality with more physicality.
17. Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Lions
On one hand, Ansah is a phenomenal pass rusher who currently leads all rookies in sacks with 3.5 and is giving opposing left tackles fits. On the other hand, Ansah is struggling mightily against the run and has consistently been a major liability. He’s catching on slowly, and there’s still plenty of work to do.
16. J.J. Wilcox, FS, Cowboys
While Wilcox hasn’t exactly blown anyone away this season, he’s been a solid option for the Dallas secondary. Against a high-powered Broncos passing game, he avoided getting embarrassed and played well enough to let the Cowboys release Will Allen. The bottom line is Wilcox is getting better.
15. Caleb Sturgis, K, Dolphins
Leading up to last weekend, Sturgis was perfect since joining the Dolphins – that includes the preseason. He was 7-7 through four games, including a long of 54 yards. And then, he missed a game-tying field goal in Week 5, officially putting his first blemish on his NFL career.
14. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Vikings
While the majority of the Vikings’ defense has been a disappointment thus far, Rhodes has been a rare bright spot. The rookie cornerback is doing a great job of slowing opposing wide receivers and has used his physicality to stay competitive. It’s a promising start for a player who could develop into a star.
13. Akeem Spence, DT, Buccaneers
It didn’t take long for Spence to earn the starting nose tackle job after joining the Buccaneers, and he’s made the most of the opportunity. The running mate of Gerald McCoy, the fourth-round rookie has used his speed to victimize blockers and should do more of the same following the bye week.
12. John Jenkins, DT, Saints
Since Broderick Bunkley exited the lineup, Jenkins has stepped up and been an integral part of the Saints’ 3-4 defense. While he’s made a significant impact against the pass, his run defense has forced opponents to take notice and game plan accordingly.
11. Robert Woods, WR, Bills
The Bills really needed a pass-catcher to step up and take the pressure off of Stevie Johnson, and Woods came knocking. Since finding himself a significant role in the offense, the rookie that many considered the most NFL-ready back in April has more than lived up to his second-round billing.
10. D.J. Fluker, OT, Chargers
Originally drafted to be a difference-maker in the running game, Fluker has instead been a phenomenal pass blocker through the first part of the Chargers’ 2013 campaign. While there’s still plenty of room to improve, the rookie is making the most of his early opportunities.
9. Travis Frederick, C, Cowboys
It looks like the Cowboys were on to something when they spent a first-round pick on Frederick. So far this season, the rookie has graded out as the best run-blocking center in the NFL while also holding his own as a pass blocker. Dallas needed an upgrade to the front five and found it with Frederick.
8. Giovani Bernard, RB, Bengals
Even though he wasn’t as big of a factor in Week 5, Bernard is still proving why he was the first running back drafted in April. The Bengals have enjoyed his versatility, quickness and ability to make something out of nothing. His role will only grow as the season progresses.
7. Eric Reid, FS, 49ers
The 49ers brought Reid aboard this offseason to replace DaShon Goldson, and he’s filled the void beautifully. On top of displaying outstanding playmaking abilities, he’s helped San Francisco field one of the best secondaries in the league and looks like a seasoned veteran through six weeks.
6. Geno Smith, QB, Jets
One of the biggest surprises of the early season, Smith has already led the Jets on three game-winning drives and appears to be well past his years in terms of maturity. While he occasionally makes silly throws and poor decisions, Smith has been clutch and has the Gang Green feeling good about the future.
5. Star Lotulelei, DT, Panthers
At this point in the season, there aren’t many better run stuffers than Lotulelei. The Panthers have long been looking for a defensive tackle who can plug up the middle, and they finally found it in the massive first-rounder. If only he could start making a consistent impact against the pass…
4. Tyrann Mathieu, FS, Cardinals
Despite all of the off-field madness, Mathieu’s playmaking abilities have been just as advertised, and the Cardinals love it. The undersized defensive back is flying around the field, making tackles and creating turnovers – exactly the same stuff that made him a Heisman candidate.
3. Larry Warford, RG, Lions
The Lions wanted to upgrade their pass blocking, and got exactly what they were looking for and more from Warford. Already one of the top guards in the NFL, the rookie is playing with ridiculous consistency. If he can improve on his run blocking, he’ll be the ultimate steal.
2. Sheldon Richardon, DE, Jets
Teamed with Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison, Richardson has been the final piece to one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive lines. He’s been a key to shutting down the run, and is making plays that you simply don’t expect from a rookie.
1. Kiko Alonso, LB, Bills
Who knew the rookie linebacker would adjust so quickly to the speed and physicality of the NFL? Either way, the Bills love it as the athletic man in the middle has spent the entire season creating highlight plays. He leads the league in interceptions and is among the leaders in tackles. Not too shabby…