Rookie Watch – Week 3

Stock Up

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah:

This was the best week of Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s young NFL career, on film you could see this was the quickest he has played vs the pass and the run. Coach Stefanski highlighted how fast the star linebacker played by saying, “He played fast, I really thought his ball disruption was really good. We did not take the ball away yesterday, but we had a bunch of passes defended.”

The second-round linebacker totalled four tackles, one quarterback hit, one tackle for a loss and two passes defended in the Browns’ 26-6 win over the Bears on Sunday. He was part of a defense that really harassed and hurried rookie quarterback Justin Fields. So far this season Owusu-Koramoah has flashed in special teams and against the run, however this week he really showed his speed at every level of the field.

Cleveland Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah reacts after a big stop against the Chicago Bears in the first half.
( Josh Gunter, Getty Images )

Creed Humphrey:

Creed Humphrey has been a bright spark for a newly formed Chiefs offensive line that has performed pretty well 3 weeks into the NFL season. Humphrey has only given up 1 pressure and 0 sacks from the center position so far, which is remarkably impressive for an offense that passes as often as the Chiefs do. Humphrey snaps the ball left handed which is very rare at the pro level, in week 1 he had a couple of high snaps that caused Patrick Mahomes problems, but as time has gone by he has really cleaned that up. In week 3 vs the Chargers Humphrey did not give up a sack or a pressure vs a very aggressive front.

Looking at the film the Chargers sent a lot of late blitz packages that the rookie center managed to pick up perfectly. The Chiefs offensive line really got some push in the run game which allowed Clyde Edwards-Helaire to average nearly 7 yards per carry, Creed was a massive part of the interior offensive line helping push the pocket.

Najee Harris:

After only three weeks, high workloads have been the story of how the Steelers are using Harris. He played 100% of potential snaps in week 1 and week 3, which only furthered his importance to this offensive scheme. Harris saw a league-high 19 targets this week against Cincinnati, which led all players at any position. Harris caught 14 passes for 102 yards, breaking 8 tackles after the catch.

This game took Harris to first among all running backs in missed tackles, something he has had to do very often with the poor blocking from the offensive line. His only issue was having 5 drops for the game, but part of this could be down to pure volume and the pressure he was having to catch some of the catches under. If the Steelers offense is going to continue to look this way then I expect Harris to remain as a crucial part of the offense for the rest of the season.

( Luke Easterling, Yahoo Sports )

Stock Down:

Justin Fields:

This was the worst-case scenario for Justin Fields, head coach Matt Nagy, and the whole Bears offense. The offense finished the game with 1 net passing yard after you account for the sacks on Fields. A 48-yard defensive pass interference penalty accounted for more total yards than the entire Bears offense, and Fields was sacked 9 times in total. There is plenty of blame to go around, but the rookie can’t escape all the blame as he was very slow to read the defense and move through his reads. The game plan did not help Fields because in the first quarter the Bears only called 1 pass play for Fields which was a third and long, this did not help the offense get ahead of the sticks. Nagy also only called 2 design runs for Fields which is extremely confusing when you look at what Fields did at college.

Justin Fields of the Chicago Bears is sacked during the first quarter in the game against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio.
( Emilee Chinn, Getty Images )

Mac Jones:

Jones has been the best-performing rookie quarterback this season, but that is becoming a lower bar to clear by the week. He took 51 dropbacks against the Saints, but managed just 5.3 yards per attempt. He threw 3 interceptions to the Saints defense, he may have only been responsible for 1 of them, but they all highlighted how slow he was to progress through his reads. The game plan was very different to week 1 and 2 because the Patriots were trying to avoid running the ball, however he still should have been able to produce better in the short passing game of which he really struggled. In week 4 the Patriots face Brady and the Buccaneers which could lead to another tough night for Mac Jones, it may also highlight why they have started to get Jones used to being in a pass heavy offense.

Alex Leatherwood:

It is very surprising that Alex Leatherwood has not made the stock down list as of yet. Leatherwood has not had a great start to his NFL career and this continued in week 3 vs the Dolphins. Leatherwood was beaten inside a couple of times in the run game, but the biggest issues remained as a pass blocker. On one occasion he was knocked on his backside by a power rush and surrendered 6 total pressures from 36 pass-blocking snaps. He has the worst pass-blocking grade from PFF for any rookie offensive tackle and 2nd worst among all rookie linemen. Around the draft many experts saw Alex Leatherwood as more of a guard at the pro level and all signs still point to that being true, however the Raiders are letting him fail at tackle first without impacting their offense overall because the rest of the line has performed extremely well.

Brennan Scarlett, Alex Leatherwood - Brennan Scarlett and Alex Leatherwood  Photos - Zimbio
( Getty Images )

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