With the NFL season approaching Week Six, we’ve selected six of the best-performing rookies so far – with two of them being selected outside of the first round of the NFL Draft.
There is plenty of football left to play but after Week Five, which first-year players have exceeded expectations?
Here is our list of impressive rookies…
Gardner Minshew, Quarterback, Jacksonville Jaguars
Minshew has become undoubtedly one of the most popular players in the NFL on and off the field this season, with his moustache taking much of the credit. The 23-year-old was thrown in at the deep end during Week One after starting quarterback Nick Foles sustained a season-ending injury.
Despite the Jaguars going on to lose the game against the Chiefs 40-26, Minshew completed 22/25 passes (88 per cent completion rate – the highest in Jaguars history) for 275 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He even threw 13 straight completions, an NFL record for a player’s debut.
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In total, the sixth-round draft pick – who was touted to be a bench-warmer – has thrown for 1,279 yards (13th) and nine touchdowns (tied-fourth) in his first four starts, which included victories over the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos. His quarterback rating of 105.6 is also the sixth best in the NFL – better than Tom Brady and Carson Wentz.
Despite Minshew’s hot start, it’s unsure whether he will keep the starting job for the Jags when Nick Foles returns to action next season. At that point, Foles will only be one year into his bumper four-year deal worth $88 million dollars – over $85 million dollars more than the team is paying Minshew over the same time-frame.
Josh Jacobs, Running back, Oakland Raiders
The Raiders have a rich history of elite running backs. Bo Jackson boasts the second-best yards per carry average in NFL history with 5.4 (minimum 500 carries) and Marcus Allen is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Could Jacobs become the next Raiders great?
The 21-year-old was selected in the first round with one of the picks the team received from the Chicago Bears for Khalil Mack before last season. So far it has been worth it for the Raiders, as Jacobs has racked up 430 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his first five games.
His best performance in a Raiders jersey came this past Sunday in the first of three International Series games held in London, where he rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns in the thrilling 24-21 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
In the process, he broke a Raiders record when he surpassed Allen for the most rushing yards by a rookie through the first five weeks of a season. The former Alabama stud has set himself up nicely to build a great career with the Raiders.
Terry McLaurin, Wide receiver, Washington Redskins
Despite the Redskins sitting at 0-5 and without a head coach after Jay Gruden was fired earlier this week, Terry McLaurin has been the one bright spark for this franchise. The third round draft pick, also known as “Scary Terry”, scored a touchdown in each of his first three games, including on his debut where he had five receptions and 125 yards alongside a score.
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In the four games McLaurin has played, he has caught 19 passes for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He leads the Redskins in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns.
After missing Washington’s Week Four defeat against the New York Giants, McLaurin returned on Sunday against the Patriots but was not involved much due to an injury. He looks set to be fit for their next game against the Miami Dolphins, and with both teams winless and looking helpless on defense, McLaurin could add some big numbers to his already-impressive stat line.
Brian Burns, Defensive end, Carolina Panthers
Burns was selected 16th overall by the Panthers and has already shown exactly why his name was called so early in the Draft. The former Florida State pass rusher has helped the Panthers average four sacks a game through five games – picking up 3.5 himself in the process.
The 21-year-old has also registered 14 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The recovery came against the Jaguars this past Sunday and ended up in the Defensive Rookie of the Month running it back for a 56-yard touchdown.
Devin Bush, Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers used the 10th overall pick in the 2019 draft on Bush, who was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and was also named an All-American. He has brought his electric attitude from his Michigan Wolverines days to the NFL. The 21-year-old has been fantastic for the Steelers defense, despite their 1-4 record.
He’s registered 45 tackles, one interception, one sack and three fumble recoveries – he leads the team in all categories apart from sacks. It’s rare for a team such as the Steelers to rely so heavily on a rookie, but without Bush, this team could be in an even bigger mess.
Darnell Savage, Defensive back, Green Bay Packers
Savage has been one of the leaders on this new-look Green Bay Packers’ defense that has taken the league by surprise. They are only giving up an average of 16.8 points per game so far, and Savage is a big reason why.
The 22-year-old has 18 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception – the pick being crucial in the Packers’ 27-16 victory over the Broncos in Week Three. He halted Joe Flacco on the edge of the red zone as the Ravens were driving downfield with the score at 24-16.
Baltimore Ravens receiver Marquise Brown leads all rookies in receiving yards with 326 and three touchdowns, while Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson has hauled in 11 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, edge rushers Josh Allen (Jaguars) and Chase Winovich (Patriots) have both shown that they have bright futures in the NFL. Allen has 18 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble and Winovich has seven tackles and four sacks.
And of course, top-10 picks Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones will be in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. Jones has rejuvenated the Giants, while Murray picked up his first win last week and looks to be on the rise.