The success that Cam Newton has displayed this year has been almost unbelievable, given the amount of NFL fans who truly believed he was not ready. Newton's hot start, however, is not indicative of all the NFL rookies currently playing—in fact—there a few rookies that are really struggling right now.
Whether it's the adjustment to the pro level, learning a new position or technique, a few players who were expected to make immediate impacts have been a little behind schedule.
Let's take a look at who I am thinking about.
Hold your horses, kids. Before you rush down to the comment section to write: “Didn’t you see what he did to St. Louis this week?” hear me out.
If it weren’t for Lee Evans being injured, Smith would’ve never been in this game for starters, and that is because of his struggles in camp, preseason, and practice.
Smith has displayed—on multiple occasions—that he could not hold onto the ball, but also, he showed he could not display long-term stamina, and adjust HIS speed, to what the pro-level corners do to compensate.
Two areas of concern in the second half despite Smith's accomplishments.
This is a kid with a WORLD of talent, and hopefully his five passes for 152 yards and a three touchdown drubbing of the Rams is an indication that he has finally turned the corner, but one game against a near-average secondary is by no means a solid measure.
Kendricks is yet another player with a bio that spoke higher than what his talent level has provided thus far.
In regard to his athleticism, Kendricks is the real deal, but in regard to being a pro pass-catcher, he still has quite a ways to go.
Kendricks has the size to overcome defenders, but he lacks the initial spark off the line needed as an elite tight end in the NFL, and he has consistently shown soft hands through three games.
I believe—at some point—Kendricks will turn the corner, but the clock is ticking.
Roy Helu was made the primary “change-of-pace” back in Washington, but his struggles have become apparent, and his leash could be getting shorter.
Helu has the power and speed to be an every down back, but his inability to fire the gaps, adjust to what the linebackers are doing, and make something out of nothing suggest that Helu is not only struggling, but also that he has a little bit of work to do.
With Tim Hightower still the head-honcho in Washington, there is plenty of time to adjust and correct, but Helu must show something this year, lest be nothing more than bench material.
I hate to single out the Rams here, but Salas has not only shown struggles, he is on the brink of being benched altogether.
Average at best catching skills, sub-par route running and inconsistency on special teams are not the qualities that are supposed to be indicative of a starting rookie in the NFL.
The other issue here is that fellow rookie Austin Pettis is lurking in the background, and unless Salas can sure up his play, he can forget about quality starting time.
While Ballard isn’t seeing a lot of playing time, he is showing signs of struggle that may not entirely be his fault.
Ballard has had to learn not only the three-technique, but also the under technique which is a big undertaking in the NFL for a lineman not used to playing such techniques.
Through some spotty appearances, Ballard has been slow of the line, ineffective as a pass rusher, and otherwise below where the staff would like him to be right now.
The good news is, what Ballard is attempting to learn takes a great deal of time. While his struggles are a bit concerning, they are not worrisome as of yet.
I hope you guys liked this piece, and feel free to add your own rookie gripe below as there are plenty more to speak of. And for some early waiver wire advice, check out my Monday Morning Waiver Watch.