NFL Rookie Report: Week 6 Grades for Every Team's Rookie Class
Week 6 of the NFL season brought with it a cavalcade of both rookie standouts and disappointments.
Quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden helped give their team's rookie classes outstanding letter grades, while Andrew Luck was the lone rookie QB to have an off week.
There was little mediocrity this week, as rookies on each team seemed to land at one end of the spectrum, but rarely in the middle.
So, how did your favorite teams rookie class fare in Week 6?
Let's start with the squads that were on byes...
Carolina Panthers: N/A
Rookies: Luke Kuechly, Amini Silatolu, Frank Alexander, Joe Adams, Josh Norman, Brad Nortman and D.J. Campbell
The Panthers had a Week 6 bye.
Carolina has a home meeting with the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7.
Chicago Bears: N/A
Rookies: Shea McClellin, Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Hardin, Evan Rodriguez, Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy
The Chicago Bears had a bye week in Week 6.
The Bears square off with the division rival Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football in Week 7.
Jacksonville Jaguars: N/A
Rookies: Justin Blackmon, Andre Branch, Bryan Anger, Brandon Marshall, Mike Harris and Jeris Pendleton
The Jaguars had a Week 6 bye.
Jacksonville travels to Oakland in Week 7.
New Orleans Saints: N/A
Rookies: Akiem Hicks, Nick Toon, Corey White, Andrew Tiller and Marcel Jones
The Saints had a Week 6 bye.
New Orleans travels to Tampa Bay in Week 7.
Atlanta Falcons: E
Rookies: Peter Konz, Lamar Holmes, Bradie Ewing, Jonathan Massaquoi, Charles Mitchell and Travian Robertson
The bad news: There are currently no rookie contributors for the Atlanta Falcons.
The good news: Who cares? The Falcons are 6-0.
Pittsburgh Steelers: E
Rookies: David DeCastro, Mike Adams, Sean Spence, Alameda Ta'amu, Chris Rainey, Toney Clemons, David Paulson, Terrence Frederick and Kelvin Beachum
With David DeCastro out and Mike Adams still a benchwarmer, the rookie spotlight in Pittsburgh is firmly placed on the shoulders of Chris Rainey.
The speedster did not receive any carries this week, but did have one catch for 12 yards.
The problem remains that the Steelers rookie class has been one of the least impactful in football this season.
San Diego Chargers: E
Rookies: Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes, Brandon Taylor, Ladarius Green, Johnnie Troutman, David Molk, Edwin Baker and Michael Harris (undrafted)
The San Diego Chargers made two solid draft picks when they added Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes to the defensive line.
The problem is that neither player did much of anything in Week 6.
Peyton Manning was sacked a grand total of zero times, so perhaps the defensive scheming and blitz packages were limiting their effectiveness.
Still, four total tackles between the two is just bad. Ingram in particular must be given more chances to rush the passer. Right now he is being severely underutilized.
San Francisco 49ers: E
Rookies: A.J. Jenkins, LaMichael James, Joe Looney, Darius Fleming, Trent Robinson, Jason Slowey and Cam Johnson
The 49ers rookie class receives an E this week because no one saw any playing time. A.J. Jenkins and LaMichael James are talented, but they have to wear helmets and pads before they can contribute.
Dallas Cowboys: D-
Rookies: Morris Claiborne, Tyrone Crawford, Kyle Wilber, Matt Johnson, Danny Coale, James Hanna and Caleb McSurdy
Morris Claiborne was absolutely scorched by Torrey Smith for a touchdown catch in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Then, as if that wasn't enough, he left the game with a knee injury. Luckily, he came back in the fourth quarter and appears okay moving forward.
Still, aside from that play he has been outstanding this season, and is a key cog in the Dallas Cowboys defense.
Kansas City Chiefs: D-
Rookies: Dontari Poe, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Devon Wylie, DeQuan Menzie, Cyrus Gray, Jerome Long and Junior Hemingway
Jeff Allen leaves a lot to be desired right now at left guard. He appears to have slow feet and rarely opens holes for Jamaal Charles, which is noticeable because Charles leads the league in rushing.
Still, Allen is a rookie and is developing, just slowly.
Defensive tackle Dontari Poe is also taking his sweet time with his development, and this week he managed two tackles. These two were not the main cause for the Chiefs blowout loss this week, but they didn't help matters much either.
Arizona Cardinals: D
Rookies: Michael Floyd, Jamell Fleming, Bobby Massie, Senio Kelemete, Justin Bethel, Ryan Lindley and Nate Potter
The Buffalo Bills found a way to beat the Arizona Cardinals in overtime and the Cardinals rookie class did little to stop it.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd has been improving as the season wears on, but this week he looked flat in his routes and had limited production. Floyd managed only one catch for 24 yards in the contest.
Right tackle Bobby Massie's luck wasn't much better as he was part of an offensive line that allowed five sacks.
Denver Broncos: D
Rookies: Derek Wolfe, Brock Osweiler, Ronnie Hillman, Omar Bolden, Philip Blake, Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan
Derek Wolfe did sack Philip Rivers on Monday Night Football, but the Broncos rookies did not seem to share the rest of the team's energy.
As Denver was concocting one of the most miraculous comebacks in recent memory, Wolfe and running back Ronnie Hillman were somewhat just along for the ride.
Hillman had three yards on two carries and Wolfe had the aforementioned sack plus three total tackles.
Nothing spectacular to report from the rookies this week for the Broncos.
Now, Peyton Manning's performance is another story.
Detroit Lions: D
Rookies: Riley Reiff, Ryan Broyles, Dwight Bentley, Ronnell Lewis, Tahir Whitehead, Chris Greenwood, Jonte Green and Travis Lewis
Riley Reiff and Ryan Broyles are not yet contributors to the offense, so the Lions rookie focus is currently fixated solely on cornerback Dwight "Bill" Bentley.
Detroit is paper thin in the secondary and Bentley was a raw prospect out of college, so his performance is going to take time to develop.
However, he is making mistakes that are simply unacceptable. Bentley seems good for one or two pass interference calls a game, and that includes the Week 6 meeting with the Eagles.
Perhaps once Broyles starts seeing the field Detroit's rookie grades will rise.
Philadelphia Eagles: D+
Rookies: Fletcher Cox, Mychal Kendricks, Vinny Curry, Nick Foles, Brandon Boykin, Dennis Kelly, Marvin McNutt, Brandon Washington, Bryce Brown and Damaris Johnson (undrafted)
Fletcher Cox, Brandon Boykin and Mychal Kendricks have all helped the Philadelphia Eagles rookie class to be among the best in football this season.
You just wouldn't know it based on their performance against the Detroit Lions.
Cox failed to get on the stat sheet at all, and Kendricks and Boykin each recorded four tackles.
Perhaps there is just a bad taste in everyone's mouth because of the way the Eagles lost the game and fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, but to give anyone a good grade in Philly this week would seem wrong.
Indianapolis Colts: C-
Rookies: Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, T.Y. Hilton, Josh Chapman, Vick Ballard, LaVon Brazill, Justin Anderson, Tim Fugger and Chandler Harnish
The New York Jets had a great defensive gameplan and utilized it to harass Colts rookie QB Andrew Luck throughout their Week 6 showdown.
Luck threw for two interceptions and 280 yards in the Colts 35-9 defeat, and his fellow rookies were similarly average.
Tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen had a combined six catches for 75 yards, and receiver T.Y. Hilton added three catches for 31 yards to that total.
Vick Ballard, Indianapolis' leading back in this game, had only 25 yards on eight carries.
Oakland Raiders: C-
Rookies: Tony Bergstrom, Miles Burris, Jack Crawford, Juron Criner, Christo Bilukidi, Nathan Stupar and Rod Streater (undrafted)
The Oakland Raiders do not have an impressive rookie class and each week they push that opinion closer to fact.
WR Rod Streater did find his way onto the stat sheet with three catches for 24 yards, but QB Carson Palmer targeted four other players more frequently.
However, Miles Burris continues to quietly impress at linebacker. He only had four total tackles in this game, but his lateral quickness and ability to make plays all over the field are certainly encouraging.
St. Louis Rams: C-
Rookies: Michael Brockers, Brian Quick, Janoris Jenkins, Isaiah Pead, Trumaine Johnson, Chris Givens, Rokevious Watkins, Greg Zuerlein, Aaron Brown and Daryl Richardson
"Legatron" missed a kick? Immediate F for the Rams rookies!
Just kidding, although his three misses were rather shocking.
The rest of St. Louis' rookies had varying degrees of success. Janoris Jenkins looked typically solid against a poor Miami Dolphins receiving core and Daryl Richardson outplayed Steven Jackson on his way to 76 yards rushing
However, Brian Quick recorded just one catch for one yard, and Michael Brockers failed to be much of a presence or get on the stat sheet.
Zero tackles? Come on, Mr. Brockers.
Buffalo Bills: C
Rookies: Stephon Gilmore, Cordy Glenn, T.J. Graham, Nigel Bradham, Ron Brooks, Zebrie Sanders, Tank Carder, Mark Asper and John Potter
Stephon Gilmore is in a slump. He has the talent to eventually become an elite NFL cornerback, but right now he is simply not playing his best football.
Four tackles and a pass deflection are not exactly terrible, but at some point Gilmore has to break out and show his true potential.
Cordy Glenn remains injured, so he was unable to contribute along the offensive line.
And wideout T.J. Graham was targeted three times, hauling in one pass for six yards. This was not the worst week for Buffalo's rookies, but Gilmore and Graham both could have been better.
Cincinnati Bengals: C
Rookies: Dre Kirkpatrick, Kevin Zeitler, Devon Still, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Thompson, Orson Charles, Shaun Prater, Marvin Jones, George Iloka, Dan Herron and Vontaze Burfict (undrafted)
Vontaze Burfict sure has turned his rookie season around. At one point he was slated to be a first round pick before falling out of the draft altogether.
Now, he is asserting himself as a consistent force at linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Burfict had six tackles in a loss to the Cleveland Browns and was one of few bright spots on a struggling Bengals defense.
Devon Still also saw some snaps, producing two tackles.
Houston Texans: C
Rookies: Whitney Mercilus, DeVier Posey, Brandon Brooks, Ben Jones, Keshawn Martin, Jared Crick, Randy Bullock and Nick Mondek
Return man and wide receiver Keshawn Martin is quickly becoming the standout player from the Houston Texans' relatively unproductive group of rookies.
Martin had three kick returns for a total of 65 yards, a punt return of 19 yards and two catches for 24 yards.
DeVier Posey was less impressive as he did not catch a single pass. Whitney Mercilus managed only one tackle when he saw rotational snaps along the defensive line and Ben Jones continues to see time as a rotational guard.
New York Giants: C
Rookies: David Wilson, Rueben Randle, Jayron Hosley, Adrien Robinson, Brandon Mosley, Matt McCants and Markus Kuhn
Those expecting to see a continuation of Rueben Randle's six-catch, 82-yard breakout performance of a week ago were undoubtedly disappointed this week, but David Wilson supporters were not.
The New York Giants running back maximized his opportunities against the stout San Francisco 49ers rush defense, rushing for 35 yards on seven carries.
The rookies may not have been the story of the Giants 26-3 blowout of the 49ers, but Wilson found ways to contribute and should be an integral offensive piece in the future.
Baltimore Ravens: C+
Rookies: Courtney Upshaw, Kelechi Osemele, Bernard Pierce, Gino Gradkowski, Christian Thompson, Asa Jackson, Tommy Streeter and DeAngelo Tyson
Injuries are starting to pile up for the Baltimore Ravens and perhaps that means Courtney Upshaw will finally emerge into the bona fide star he is capable of becoming.
Upshaw's six total tackles against the Dallas Cowboys were a positive sign, and he has been solid all season.
Bernard Pierce made the most of his four carries, rushing for 21 yards, and although Ray Rice is the clear workhorse it is nice to see Pierce impress when given chances.
Minnesota Vikings: B-
Rookies: Matt Kalil, Harrison Smith, Josh Robinson, Jarius Wright, Rhett Ellison, Greg Childs, Robert Blanton, Blair Walsh, Audie Cole and Trevor Guyton
It is hard not to admire how quickly Matt Kalil has adjusted to the speed of the NFL game. No defensive end is too big, strong, quick or shifty for the Vikings rookie left tackle, and QB Christian Ponder's amazing growth this season is a clear result.
Kalil was again great against the Redskins, and his defensive rookie counterparts each had impressive moments as well.
Harrison Smith can sometimes get lost in coverage, but he is vital to Minnesota's secondary and had two total tackles on Sunday.
Josh Robinson added three tackles, and kicker Blair Walsh was 4-of-4 on field goal attempts.
Tennessee Titans: B
Rookies: Kendall Wright, Zach Brown, Mike Martin, Coty Sensabaugh, Taylor Thompson, Markelle Martin and Scott Solomon
It may seem surprising with the talent of Kenny Britt and Nate Washington on the roster, but Kendall Wright has already proven to be the Tennessee Titans' top wide receiver.
Wright again impressed in Week 6, catching six passes for 71 yards.
Not to be outdone, defensive rookies Mike Martin and Zach Brown also turned in fine performances.
Martin registered six tackles and Brown added four of his own.
New York Jets: B+
Rookies: Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill, Demario Davis, Josh Bush, Terrance Ganaway, Robert T. Griffin, Antonio Allen and Jordan White
When QB Mark Sanchez is having one of his rare good games Stephen Hill tends to reap the benefits. This was the case against the Indianapolis Colts as he caught three passes for 23 yards and scored a touchdown.
Hill is a strong, physical wide receiver and deserves more targets moving forward.
After a bad Week 5, Quinton Coples returned to form in a big way in Week 6. He made Andrew Luck look almost human as he stampeded off the edge, registering two sacks and four total tackles.
Cleveland Browns: A-
Rookies: Trent Richardson, Brandon Weeden, Mitchell Schwartz, Josh Gordon (supplemental), John Hughes, Travis Benjamin, James-Michael Johnson, Ryan Miller, Emmanuel Acho, Billy Winn, Trevin Wade, Brad Smelley and L.J. Fort (undrafted)
The Cleveland Browns found a way to win despite only getting 37 yards from Trent Richardson on the ground.
It is hard to believe that the rushing attack was a non-factor, but the Browns passing game stole the show in a 34-24 win over the Bengals.
Brandon Weeden played like he had a new owner to impress or something, throwing for 231 yards and two scores, including a 71-yard bomb to fellow rookie Josh Gordon. The chemistry between Weeden and Gordon has developed nicely over the last few weeks.
Richardson, despite the poor rushing numbers, did also have 17 yards receiving.
New England Patriots: A-
Rookies: Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower, Tavon Wilson, Jake Bequette, Nate Ebner, Alfonzo Dennard, Jeremy Ebert and Brandon Bolden (undrafted)
What is amazing about the New England Patriots rookie class is the number of players that contribute.
Chandler Jones was performing at his absolute peak this week and continues to make a case for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He recorded nine total tackles and two sacks, seemingly bursting off the line with ease.
Brandon Bolden continues to be an important part of the rushing game, gaining 28 yards on six carries, and Tavon Wilson continues to be an underrated member of the secondary.
His skill set is extremely diverse, and while he only had one tackle and a pass deflection on Sunday, Wilson's presence is felt consistently.
Green Bay Packers: A
Rookies: Nick Perry, Jerel Worthy, Casey Hayward, Mike Daniels, Jerron McMillian, Terrell Manning, Andrew Datko and B.J. Coleman
Nick Perry was injured in the Green Bay Packers win over the Houston Texans and his status for Week 7 is still uncertain.
With that out of the way, we can get to the incredible play of Perry's fellow rookies on the Packers this week.
Green Bay's rookie class has stood out all season, and players like Casey Hayward and Jerel Worthy ensured it remained that way against the Texans.
Hayward had two interceptions and Worthy recorded a sack. It is defensive play like this that will help the Packers overcome their early season stumbles and regain Super Bowl form.
Miami Dolphins: A
Rookies: Ryan Tannehill, Jonathan Martin, Olivier Vernon, Michael Egnew, Lamar Miller, Josh Kaddu, B.J. Cunningham, Kheeston Randall and Rishard Matthews
Lamar Miller did not even register a carry and the Dolphins rookie class still managed an A grade this week.
Ryan Tannehill looked about as good as possible en route to going 21-of-29 passing for 185 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
He was calm in the pocket and delivered accurately thrown balls to open receivers, never letting the pressure of a close football game get the better of him.
And how about Olivier Vernon?
The pass rusher recorded four total tackles and an impressive two sacks. He was constantly in Sam Bradford's face and made throwing the ball downfield a difficult task.
Seattle Seahawks: A
Rookies: Bruce Irvin, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson, Robert Turbin, Jaye Howard, Korey Toomer, Jeremy Lane, Winston Guy, J.R. Sweezy and Greg Scruggs
Everyone found something to dislike about the Seattle Seahawks draft back in April, but those critics have to be eating their words now.
Seattle's rookies turned in another fine performance, this time against the New England Patriots.
Bobby Wagner led the team with 14 tackles, Robert Turbin gained 27 yards on five carries and Russell Wilson stepped up when Seattle needed him.
The Seahawks signal-caller threw for 293 yards and three touchdowns in the win, his best game of the season.
If there was a slight blemish it was the play of Bruce Irvin, who recorded just one tackle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A+
Rookies: Mark Barron, Doug Martin, Lavonte David, Najee Goode, Keith Tandy, Michael Smith and Drake Dunsmore
The Buccaneers rookie class led the charge in the team's 38-10 blowout of the Chiefs in Week 6.
Doug Martin showed sings of life after weeks of futility, rushing for 76 yards on just 13 carries.
However, it was Levonte David and Mark Barron that really stole the show. The defensive rookies were No. 1 and No. 2 on the team in tackles this week, and had three combined tackles for loss.
David has been a leading tackler all season, and Barron's play has given a needed boost to one of the worst secondaries in football.
When all three of these rookies are firing on all cylinders, Tampa Bay looks like a real contender.
Washington Redskins: A+
Rookies: Robert Griffin III, Josh LeRibeus, Kirk Cousins, Keenan Robinson, Adam Gettis, Alfred Morris, Tom Compton, Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstine
We already knew Robert Griffin III has sprinter-like speed, but against the Minnesota Vikings we finally got to see it at the NFL level.
RG3 flew by defenders for a 76-yard scamper, a run that helped him gain over 138 rushing yards and two scores on the ground for the game.
His 182 yards passing were efficient and exactly what the Redskins offense needed. Running back Alfred Morris registered 47 rushing yards and was able to find the end zone once.