NFL Rookie Report: Week 7 Grades for Every Team's Rookie Class
At this point, Robert Griffin's incredible play is no longer surprising. But he once again highlighted the 2012 rookie class in Week 7.
That's not to say no other rookies stood up, though. Like every other week, rookies made both positive and negative impacts for their teams.
Each team had differing performances from its rookies, with some receiving excellence and others next to nothing. On which end of the spectrum was your team?
Green Bay Packers
Cornerback Casey Hayward has made an early impression, particularly after hauling in an interception against St. Louis. Fellow defensive back Jerron McMillian has also earned playing time, and he assisted one tackle. Look for his playing time to increase in Charles Woodson's absence.
Defensive lineman Jerel Worthy played against the Rams but did not make a tackle. He has, however, made a few plays throughout the year, picking up two sacks.
Linebacker Nick Perry missed the game with an injury, though he has produced when healthy.
First-round offensive tackle Riley Reiff is beginning to play more, and he's looked good to date. Also on offense, second-round wideout Ryan Broyles is beginning to see the ball, as he caught three passes for 51 yards and a touchdown against Chicago.
Defensively, Bill Bentley hasn't been great, and no other players have made great impacts. Bentley missed this contest with an injury, as well. The Lions haven't gotten huge production out of this class.
In an incredibly disappointing season, Detroit could really use some help from its rookies, but the team isn't getting much.
Defensive end Shea McClellin has shown the same explosiveness he had at Boise State, and he picked up another half sack against Detroit. He isn't starting yet, but he's still making an impact.
Unfortunately, rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery missed the game with an injury. No other rookies really stepped up, so the Bears not getting much from their youngsters.
When both Jeffery and McClellin are healthy, Chicago gets some help from its rookie class; that just wasn't the case in Week 7.
No. 4 overall pick Matt Kalil has done a great job at left tackle this season, and that continued last week against Arizona. The Cardinals did pick up three sacks, but two of them came from inside linebacker Daryl Washington, so that clearly wasn't Kalil's fault.
Fellow first-round pick Harrison Smith brought back an interception for a touchdown as well. He picked up a solid four tackles to boot.
Josh Robinson received playing time at cornerback, though he failed to make much of an impact. The rookie hasn't been great on the year.
The star of the Bengals' rookie class is undrafted free agent Vontaze Burfict. Everyone knew of Burfict's talent, but his dominant play has still been a surprise. He is already starting for Cincinnati, and he led the team in tackles against Pittsburgh, picking up 13 stops.
Kevin Zeitler and Mohamed Sanu have also contributed. Zeitler has played pretty well, and Sanu has proven to be a versatile receiver. He caught three passes and ran the ball once in Week 7, though he only netted 34 total yards.
While several players from this class have promise, Burfict is currently standing out in a big way, which has been huge for Cincinnati.
Brandon Weeden has continued to improve throughout the season, and he played quite well against Indianapolis, throwing for over 250 yards and two touchdowns.
Unfortunately, No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson's impact was limited by a rib injury, and he was able to pick up just eight yards on the ground.
Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and defensive tackle Billy Winn, both of whom have been decent, also started for the Browns.
Supplemental draft pick Josh Gordon continued to demonstrate his explosive playmaking ability, scoring a touchdown and gaining 59 yards.
The many rookies playing for Cleveland is both a sign of the team's lack of talent and the strength of its rookie class.
The Steelers had two rookies make impacts against the Bengals, both on offense: right tackle Mike Adams and running back Chris Rainey.
Rainey has showed some explosion on offense, but he has primarily contributed in the return game, where he's made a real impact. He had 127 all-purpose yards in week seven. Pittsburgh has found use for the speedy running back.
Despite David DeCastro's injury, Pittsburgh is still getting some production out of its rookies. There are no huge problems with the early production here.
Only two Baltimore rookies see much in the way of playing time.
On defense, Courtney Upshaw sees the field, but rarely makes an impact play. He's more "just there" than anything, as his two tackles and two assists demonstrates.
Kelechi Osemele, on the other hand, has impressed at right tackle. He left the game against Houston with a sprained ankle, but returned later and played fairly well against a superb defense. There is no complaining about his performance.
Right now, though, the Ravens could use a more positive impact from their rookie class, especially on defense.
New York Jets
When the New York Jets drafted Quinton Coples in the first round, many called it a risky pick. Thus far, the risk hasn't paid off, as Coples has failed to make any impact. His three tackles against the Patriots represents one of his better games so far.
Stephen Hill was also a risky pick, but he's actually made some plays—as his 55 yards against the Patriots demonstrates.
Linebacker Demario Davis also picked up five tackles, working in Bart Scott's place with the nickel defense.
The Jets aren't getting much out of their first pick, but they are receiving contributions from a couple of other selections.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have gotten significant impacts from a few rookies, all of whom play on defense.
Defensive end Chandler Jones didn't dominate against the Jets—he had just three tackles and no sacks
—but he he's made a huge impact on the year and played decently.
Linebacker Dont'a Hightower also continued to play well; he picked up seven tackles and a sack.
The surprise here, though, was seventh-round cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who picked up a Mark Sanchez interception.
First-round pick Stephon Gilmore has shown he has exciting play-making ability, but he's also demonstrated a tendency to get beaten in coverage. He added a single tackle against the Titans. At this point, he's more potential than anything else.
Offensive tackle Cordy Glenn had been struggling, but was out with an injury against Tennessee.
Linebacker Nigel Bradham is starting, but not dominating. His three tackles show he's at least somewhat involved defensively. T.J. Graham has contributed some as well, though he gained just six yards in week seven.
There haven't been any huge standouts here, but Buffalo at least has rookies on the field contributing.
The Dolphins were on bye in Week 7.
New York Giants
Only two rookies made impacts for the Giants in Week 7, neither of whom was one of the team's first two draft picks: Markus Kuhn and Jayron Hosley.
Kuhn didn't have an overly eventful game, picking up just two tackles, but Hosley found himself in the spotlight. He allowed Santana Moss to score what was, at the time, the game-winning touchdown. Then, a few short plays later, he recovered the game-sealing fumble.
Sometimes, you have to take the bad with the good.
The Cowboys took a risk when they traded up for Morris Claiborne. But that risk began to pay off against the Panthers, as he recorded his first career interception. Claiborne also came up with a huge pass deflection later in the game.
The No. 6 overall pick is already making a huge impact in the Cowboys' secondary.
No other rookie, however, made an impact for Dallas. In fact, there was a distinct lack of production from the rest of the class. This was a Claiborne game.
Robert Griffin tore up the Giants through the air and on the ground. New York could not stop the rookie phenom. At one point, it seemed that Griffin had led the Redskins on a game-winning drive, only for the Washington defense to blow the lead.
Griffin ended the game with 258 passing yards, two touchdowns and 89 rushing yards. Not a bad game for a rookie against one of the NFL's premier pass rushes.
Along with Griffin, rookie running back Alfred Morris made a huge impact. He gained 120 yards on 22 carries, essentially running at will.
When two rookies play like this, you don't need anyone else to contribute.
The Eagles were on bye Week 7.
New Orleans Saints
Just one Saints rookie saw much of the field against Tampa Bay, and even his impact was limited. Akiem Hicks made just one tackle, playing at defensive tackle.
Due to New Orleans' lack of early draft picks, the team wasn't expected to get a ton out of its rookies. And thus far, that prediction has been on the money.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay loaded up on early draft picks, and its rookie class is looking good.
Mark Barron has made a couple plays and been solid overall while starting at safety. He had a decent, if somewhat uneventful game against New Orleans, racking up six tackles.
Running back Doug Martin hasn't gained too many yards, but that is more likely the offensive line's fault than his. He had an excellent game here, though, gaining 85 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Meanwhile, second-round pick Lavonte David has stood out, racking up tackles and making plays. He was second on the team in week seven with six tackles and an assist.
Tampa Bay has several rookies contributing already, and they have the potential to be impact players down the line.
The Falcons were on bye Week 7.
No. 9 overall pick Luke Kuechly has been a solid presence in Carolina's defense, though he hasn't been a huge playmaker yet. For now, Kuechly is more of a guy and less of a star. He was the same against Dallas.
Second-round pick Amini Silatolu continues to start at left guard for Carolina, and he's been solid. He hasn't been dominant, which was expected.
Cornerback Josh Norman allowed the Cowboys' only touchdown of the contest. He has struggled, but he's still contributing more than most of Carolina's rookies.
To date, Kendall Wright hasn't been the explosive presence Tennessee hoped he would be, as his three-catch, 19-yard performance against Buffalo indicates. Wright clearly did not make much of an impact there.
Only two other rookies are picking up much playing time for the rookies: Defensive tackle Mike Martin rotates in, as does linebacker Zach Brown. But neither has done anything exceptional. Brown picked up two tackles against the Bills, and Martin added another.
No Tennessee rookie made a big impact in week seven, but they at least saw the field.
Though he didn't carve up the Browns like you may have expected, Andrew Luck continued to play well. He scored twice and managed the offense. His 186 yards wasn't overly impressive, though.
Tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen both saw plenty of playing time and hauled in catches for a total of 26 yards. T.Y. Hilton dropped a pass but also caught two for 22 yards.
Running back Vick Ballard picked up a solid 84 yards on 20 carries, adding significant value to the Indianapolis offense.
The Colts have plenty of youth on the field, and it's showing potential. This class could still be something.
Despite being a deep team with tons of talent, the Texans have some rookies contributing. First-round pick Whitney Mercilus forced a fumble while sacking Joe Flacco, and defensive lineman Jared Crick was also active on defense, picking up a tackle and an assist.
On offense, Ben Jones started at right guard, where he played fairly well. Wide receiver Keshawn Martin had a limited impact in the return game, returning a single kick for 17 yards.
Houston fans should not be complaining about this class or its performance against Baltimore. An already talented team, the Texans have been made even better by their rookies.
The Jaguars traded up to select Justin Blackmon. In Week 7, he contributed a full one catch and seven yards against the Raiders.
No other Jacksonville rookie is doing too much either.
Bryan Anger punted decently against Oakland, though not quite as well as we are accustomed to. The rest of the class was, as previously mentioned, completely irrelevant.
That's not what a team as bad as the Jaguars is looking for.
The Broncos were on bye Week 7.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers were on bye Week 7.
With no early picks, the Raiders were at a disadvantage in finding rookie contributors. However, Miles Burris has stood out at linebacker.
Burris recorded four tackles and a sack against Jacksonville, demonstrating his play-making ability.
Undrafted free agent Rod Streater has also stood out; he contributed again for Oakland at wide receiver, hauling in two catches for 41 yards.
No other Raiders made notable impacts, but considering the lack of draft picks, this is a solid performance.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs were on bye Week 7.
San Francisco 49ers
Not a single San Francisco rookie made an impact against the Seahawks, as has been the case all season. Part of this is the 49ers' excellent depth and talent level, but the lackluster draft class hasn't helped.
It's impossible for a rookie class to have less of an impact, as it failed to contribute anything in any aspect of the game.
With one catch for seven yards, first-round pick Michael Floyd didn't make a huge impact in Week 7. In fact, the only rookie who did for the Cardinals was right tackle Bobby Massie.
And since the Vikings' defensive ends had five sacks, that wasn't so good either. Both Jared Allen and Brian Robison got to the quarterback, so clearly Massie struggled.
Thus far, Arizona hasn't gotten much out of its rookies. The team isn't good enough to really justify that either.
Against an excellent 49er defense, Russell Wilson didn't do anything extra. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes and tossed an interception, while throwing for just 122 yards.
On defense, however, Bobby Wagner continued to make an impact, racking up seven tackles. First-round pick Bruce Irvin didn't record a tackle, though. Despite having a good season on the whole, Robert Turbin failed to make an impact, picking up just 17 yards.
This wasn't an overly good game for the Seahawks' rookies, bu they have been solid on the season.
St. Louis Rams
No. 14 overall pick Michael Brockers has made an early impression, and he had no problem dominating Green Bay's offensive line, picking up a sack and four tackles in the process. While Brockers dominated, though, fellow defensive rookie Janoris Jenkins was abused at cornerback.
On offense, Chris Givens continued to make plays, including a 56-yard completion and 73 yards on the game.
Second-round wideout Brian Quick didn't make quite the same impact, however, as he picked just two catches for 31 yards.
The Rams drafted athleticism early, and it's showing. There are some great plays being made, but there are also some struggles.