The Bucs may have their quarterback of the future, but the Redskins definitely have one of the best young linebackers in the League. Find out more in our Week 10 Rookie Report.
QB: Josh Freeman – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
While Josh Freeman still has a ways to go before we really have an idea of what he will be in the NFL, one aspect of his game is coming in to focus. He excels late in games and can bring his team to another level when coming from behind. While the defense crumbled after Cadillac Williams’ game leading win, Freeman showed for the second straight week that an opponent cannot count the Bucs out until the clock reads triple zeroes. His accuracy on sideline passes are something young signal callers struggle to obtain for years. The physical ability is there and he is getting the most out of the mediocre talent around him.
Honorable Mention: Matthew Stafford – Detroit Lions
RB: Chris Wells – Arizona Cardinals
It appears that Wells has finally reached that full level of comfort and opposing defenses are at a loss when it comes to the approach against the Cardinals offense. The air attack remains top notch but Wells has brought the ground game to another level. He is running with balance, power, quickness, and decisiveness. Just a few weeks ago Wells was taking too many steps prior to the point of attack, giving defenders enough time to fight off blocks and clog lanes. However Wells is not exploding through holes and breaking tackles on almost every attempt. The unparalleled stiff arm we saw at Ohio State has made its way in to the NFL as Wells is stifling tacklers with it. If this kind of 5+ yards per carry and 2 touchdown performance turns in to an every week threat, the Arizona offense may be the best it has been under Kurt Warner.
Honorable Mention: Bernard Scott – Cincinnati Bengals
WR/TE: Brandon Gibson – St. Louis Rams
The Rams will be using the rest of this season to prepare for the future as they try and see what they have in-house before going after free agents and creating their draft strategy. This past week they were assured that Gibson is going to be an important ingredient to their formula for creating a winning franchise again. His 7 catches and 93 yards are both season highs for Rams receivers and he showed a nice skill set in the process. His hands were strong, as he made some tough grabs and did not let the ball wiggle once contact was made. He showed strength and the ability to be slippery to tacklers after the reception as he created on a few different occasions. He has a very balanced approach to the game and could prove to be a dynamic threat from here on out if he keeps these kind of performances up.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Maclin – Philadelphia Eagles
OL: Sebastian Vollmer – New England Patriots
With Matt Light out against arguably the game’s top edge rusher, the Patriots had to at least be a little scared for the safety of Tom Brady. Vollmer had already seen time on the right side where he played well, but not great. However Vollmer stepped his game up on a big stage against a big time player, bottling up Freeney and allowing just one quarterback pressure. He overpowered Freeney all night and locked him up once contact was inititated. His technique, especially below the waist, was exactly what scouts look for in a top notch blind side protector. While Light has been a pro-bowler, Vollmer appeared to give the best level of play the Patriots have had at left tackle in a long time. There are already talks that give the notion Vollmer may keep the job even when Light returns.
Honorable Mention: Michael Oher – Baltimore Ravens
DL: Sen’Derrick Marks – Tennessee Titans
The start to Marks’ career was not exactly what some were expecting. He was a dominant force last fall at Auburn but his game did not translate too well during preseason. He was inactive for the first few games but he took in the coaching and advice from veterans and really applied on the field this past Sunday. He explodes out of his stance and engages the blocker first, getting deep into his body. He finished the game with 3 tackles, 1 for a loss, and a pass deflection. He flows to the ball well and considering his ability to get in to the backfield, he could be a force throughout the rest of the season.
Honorable Mention: Everette Brown – Carolina Panthers
LB: Brian Orakpo – Washington Redskins
I’ve seen the Redskins five times this year and I walk away with the same perception of Orakpo every time, he just gets after it. His motor is non-stop and when you play with that kind of fire on top of the immense physical ability he possesses, you have yourself a top notch pass rusher. Orakpo notched another sack and a half on Sunday while Denver was attempting to come back in the second half. He really brings his game to another level when the team needs him most. He has vastly improved his game in space as well, getting off blocks and making plays against the run. He is becoming a well rounded, dynamic, dangerous strong side linebacker and those are few and far between these days.
Honorable Mention: Brad Jones – Green Bay Packers
CB: Jerraud Powers – Indianapolis Colts
While the Colts defense did not exactly come through against the Patriots passing game, Powers played some of the best football I’ve seen out of a rookie cornerback this season. He was matched up against Wes Welker and Randy Moss all night and he was rarely thrown at. His ability to stick with Welker on the short and quick crossing routes was consistent. However what really impressed was his ability to play physical with Moss at the line. His press coverage threw him off a bunch of routes and required Moss to adjust. He plays a lot bigger than he is and fits the scheme perfectly. The Colts may hve really found something with this kid because he can match up with anyone and get the job done.
Honorable Mention: Derek Cox – Jacksonville Jaguars
S: Sherrod Martin – Carolina Panthers
Matt Ryan was noticeably uncomfortable against an improving Panthers defense on Sunday. One thing I took from his struggles was how unsure he was when looking downfield. Martin has been showing that he can get himself moving in the right direction quickly after the snap. That is a quarterback’s worst nightmare when attempting to throw the ball deep and to think Martin is already at the stage where he is altering games with mere presence leads me to the notion that the Panthers struck gold with this pick. Martin intercepted another pass and may have earned himself a starting spot in the defensive backfield for the rest of the year but he continues to improve in strides with each week that passes.
Honorable Mention: Jairus Byrd – Buffalo Bills