Earl Thomas—S—Seattle Seahawks
The rookie safety from Texas had 6 tackles and 2 interceptions versus San Diego, including the game clincher with time winding down and the Chargers threatening to score. Inconsistency has plagued the first round pick from Texas so far this season, but his playmaking ability has been on display. Look for Thomas to have a solid rookie campaign moving forward.
C.J. Spiller—RB/KR—Buffalo Bills
Will someone please explain to Chan Gailey that this kid can play? 12 carries through 3 games is an abomination for a team lacking playmakers on offense. This past week against New England, the first round pick from Clemson electrified with a 95 yard kickoff return for touchdown, as well as a receiving touchdown. Overall, he had 4 carries for 29 yards, and 3 receptions for 10 yards. Hopefully we get to see more of Spiller in the games to come.
Dexter McCluster—WR/KR—Kansas City Chiefs
Size really matters, right? Nope. The 5’8”, 170 lb. McCluster has proven he belongs on the football field. Versus Arizona, he totaled 3 receptions for 69 yards including an impressive 31 yard catch and run touchdown. The second round pick from Ole Miss has been electric since stepping foot on the gridiron, and has proven that if you can play, you can play. Look for more highlight reel plays from McCluster as the season progresses.
Tony Moeaki—TE—Kansas City Chiefs
Another strong performance for Moeaki versus Arizona had him catching 4 balls for 44 yards and his second touchdown of the season. He has quickly become a favorite red zone target for Matt Cassel and head coach Todd Haley. The third round pick from Iowa should continue to post respectable numbers, as long as the Chiefs offense continues to run the ball effectively.
Sam Bradford—QB—St. Louis Rams
I have a strong suspicion that Bradford might as well be penned in as Rookie of the Year already. You could even make an argument he is the best QB in the NFC West after just 3 weeks. That’s not saying much, but give the kid some credit. This past week against Oakland, Bradford completed 23 of 37 passes for 235 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He has looked every bit of superstar and rookie so far this year and has Rams fans feeling pretty good about the future.
Jimmy Clausen—QB—Carolina Panthers
Well, this column can’t be all roses and sunshine, can it? The second round pick out of Notre Dame looked lost in his first start as a professional. Granted, his team is playing terrible, but Clausen still completed just 16 of 33 passes for 188 yards against Cincinnati. Compound that with the fact that he turned the ball over 3 times (1 interception and 2 fumbles), and let’s just say this wasn’t the most memorable performance. Still, Clausen has skills so look for some decent games in the future, but overall this could be a tough rookie season for Jimmy.
Blair White—WR—Indianapolis Colts
Who? Exactly. It really doesn’t matter who the Colts play at wide receiver does it? White, a 6’2” 205 lb. undrafted free agent out of Michigan State, makes this week’s list on the back of 3 catches for 27 yards and his first career touchdown against Denver. Congratulations to him, but don’t expect too many more games like this for the season. However, with Anthony Gonzalez still hurting, White should see the field for the next few weeks at least.
Rob Gronkowski/Aaron Hernandez—TE—New England Patriots
This duo is rapidly becoming one of the more formidable tight end combos in the league. It seems like every week one, or both, does something great. This week versus the Buffalo Bills it was both. Gronkowski, a second round pick from Arizona, totaled 43 yards on 3 catches and a touchdown. Hernandez, a fourth round pick from Florida, and fresh off his first career 100 yard game last week, totaled 65 yards on 6 catches and a touchdown. Overall, 9 catches for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns for the rookies. Not bad at all, and not likely to let up as Tom Brady loves to look to his tight ends all over the field.