Sam Bradford—QB—St. Louis Rams
What else can be said about Sam Bradford? He’s good. Like really, really good. It’s hard to remember a rookie quarterback being this impressive in quite some time. Again this past weekend versus Denver, Bradford was in top form. He completed 22 of 37 passes for 308 yards with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. That’s good for a quarterback rating of 113.3, or in other words: awesome. His 2,466 yards on the season place the 1st round pick from Oklahoma 6th in the NFC in that category, and his 17 touchdown passes place him 5th. Can you say franchise QB?
Gerald McCoy—DT—Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There was a lot of publicity about Gerald McCoy before the NFL Draft, specifically surrounding those who thought he could be taken ahead of Ndamukong Suh. While it is clear that the Lions made the correct choice in drafting Suh, who has been flat-out dominant, McCoy has struggled to live up to his billing. However, after recording the first sack of his career 2 weeks ago, the 1st round pick from Oklahoma again had a nice performance this past weekend versus Baltimore. McCoy recorded 3 tackles which included 2 quarterback sacks. It looks like McCoy might have reached the turning point in his rookie season, and should continue to get better.
Jason Pierre-Paul—DE—New York Giants
Similar to Gerald McCoy above, Pierre-Paul has been slightly disappointing thus far in his rookie season. Prior to this last game, the 1st round pick from South Florida had only recorded 11 tackles and 0 sacks, certainly not numbers worthy of the 15th overall selection. But the talent and athleticism that startled everybody at the combine was finally on display Sunday versus Jacksonville. Pierre-Paul had by far his best game of the season recording 8 tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. It’s the type of performance that has Giants fans hoping that Pierre-Paul can be an impact player for the rest of the season.
Carlso Dunlap—DE—Cincinnati Bengals
The next installment of this week’s underwhelming rookie defensive end that finally had a good game is Carlos Dunlap. The 2nd round pick from Florida had accumulated only 7 tackles and 1 sack prior to this past weekend versus the New York Jets. On Sunday, however, Dunlap had 3 tackles which included 2 sacks. It’s nice to see Dunlap, and the other high-profile rookie defensive ends finally making an impact for their respective teams.
Jacoby Ford—WR—Oakland Raiders
Ford is really starting to assert himself as a force to be reckoned with, not only on special teams, but in the passing game as well. Two weeks after having a similarly exceptional game, the 4th round pick from Clemson did it again on Sunday versus Miami. Ford not only returned the opening kickoff of the game 101 yards for a touchdown, but also caught 4 passes for 108 yards, including a 44 yard touchdown reception (the first touchdown catch of his career). It will be hard for Oakland fans to get over the botched selection of Darrius Heyward-Bey, but Ford is doing his best to help with the process.
Devin McCourty—CB—New England Patriots
Although it seems like ages, and a lot of food, ago, Devin McCourty had another terrific game Thanksgiving Day versus Detroit. With 7 tackles and 2 more interceptions (which included 73 return yards), the 1st round pick from Rutgers just might be playing himself into rookie of the year consideration. His 61 tackles place him 9th among all cornerbacks in the NFL, and his 5 interceptions are tied with Earl Thomas of Seattle for 4th in the NFL. If not rookie of the year, McCourty will certainly get Pro Bowl consideration, an amazing accomplishment for a rookie cornerback.
Shout-Outs To: Jerome Murphy, DB, St. Louis Rams (1st career forced fumble), Rolando McClain, LB, Oakland Raiders (1st career interception), Kendrick Lewis, S, Kansas City Chiefs (1st career interception), Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos (1st 2 career catches), Kyle Love, DT, New England Patriots (1st 2 career tackles), Marlon Moore, WR, Miami Dolphins (1st career touchdown catch), Alex Carrington, DE, Buffalo Bills (1st career sack)