Sam Bradford—QB—St. Louis Rams
And the Offensive Rookie of the Year is…..Sam Bradford. While I’m sure that Bradford will inevitably have a bad game or two, the rookie first round pick from Oklahoma is as unflappable as any rookie quarterback I’ve seen in a long time. The Seattle Seahawks came at Bradford from all angles on Sunday, and all Bradford did was torch them to the tune of 23-41 passing for 289 yards and 2 td’s. The one mistake being an interception thrown in the endzone to fellow rookie Earl Thomas of Seattle, but otherwise a rock solid performance for Bradford. I’ll go ahead and set aside a spot in next week’s column, as Bradford looks like the real deal so far this year.
Taylor Mays—S—San Francisco 49ers
Mays made the most of his first career start versus the Atlanta Falcons. While the 11 tackles was impressive enough and worthy of a spot in our list, the second round pick out of USC’s highlight reel catch of a blocked punt in the back of the endzone for a touchdown will surely make some post-season highlight reels as well. With the 49ers at 0-4 and starting safety Michael Lewis being granted his release, Mays will surely play a large role for the rest of the season in San Francisco.
Ryan Mathews-RB-San Diego Chargers
After battling a high ankle sprain for a couple of weeks, Mathews was back and made the most of his limited touches versus the Arizona Cardinals. The first round pick from Fresno State tallied 55 yards on 9 carries to the tune of 6.1 yards per carry, including his first career touchdown. Mike Tolbert has played well, but Mathews looks like the sure-fire starter in San Diego once completely healthy.
Marc Mariani-WR-Tennessee Titans
This week’s “rookie from out of nowhere” selection goes to Marc Mariani. The seventh round pick from Montana had a huge special teams day, returning 6 kicks for 187 yards, a 31.2 average, including a 98 yard kick return for a touchdown versus the Denver Broncos. The 6-1, 190lb wide receiver has yet to get his hands on the ball offensively, but days like this will surely catch the eye of head coach Jeff Fisher on a team desperate for playmakers at wide receiver.
Ndamukong Suh—DT—Detroit Lions
Like Sam Bradford, Suh’s spot on this list could pretty bell be etched in stone. Another strong day from the rookie first round pick from Nebraska had him collecting 3 tackles and another sack, his third on the year already, versus the Green Bay Packers. Suh looks every bit of the defensive force that Jim Schwartz had hoped when he drafted him second overall. He should continue to play well, and will be a very strong Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate at the end of the season on an ever-improving Lions team.
Alterraun Verner—DB—Tennessee Titans
It is usually not a great stat for your team when a defensive back leads the team in tackles, but Verner did just that this past weekend versus the Denver Broncos. Verner was busy in the game tallying 11 tackles and 3 passes defended. A really solid day from the rookie fourth round pick out of UCLA versus the pass happy Denver Broncos. Verner made the most of his first career start and will probably see some more starts in the future.
ShoutOuts To—Jordan Pugh, S, Carolina Panthers (1st 3 career tackles and 2 passes defended), Mike Neal, DE, Green Bay Packers (1st career tackle and forced fumble), George Selvie, DE, St. Louis Rams (1st career .5 sack), Jim Dray, TE, Arizona Cardinals (1st career catch), Linval Joseph, DT, New York Giants (1st career tackle), Syd’Quan Thompson, CB, Denver Broncos (1st 2 career tackles), Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (1st career catch), Joe McKnight, RB, New York Jets (1st 4 career carries), Antonio Coleman, LB, Buffalo Bills (1st career tackle), Roberto Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins (1st career catch), Brandon Deaderick, DE, New England Patriots (1st 2 career tackles).