Rookie Watch – Week 4

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DeVonta Smith:

The ease with which DeVonta Smith is able to generate separation is impressive to watch every single week. Against Kansas City, he racked up seven catches for 122 yards from 10 targets on a variety of different routes, and there were two other catches called back for penalty that would have taken him over 150 yards on the day. Smith was lethal on all of his routes on Sunday, he especially excelled in running, crossing and out-routes. The whole wide receiver class is looking very good right now, but it’s hard to argue if anyone looks as good as DeVonta Smith, especially in an offense that doesn’t pass the ball deep down the field.

Eagles rookie report card: DeVonta Smith hits the century mark - Bleeding  Green Nation
Photo by Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Smith:

Trey Smith was seen as a 1st or 2nd round pick by experts around the NFL, however throughout his time at Tennessee he suffered a heart condition that saw him plummet down draft boards. The Chiefs took the risk and picked him in the 6th round of the draft and have not looked back since. Smith sits at 2nd in PFF grade out of all rookie offensive lineman and is already one of the best run blocking guards in the entire NFL. Smith did not give up a single pressure vs the Eagles even though he was up against Fletcher Cox for the majority of his snaps, this was a true confidence booster for the young rookie.

Justin Fields:

Week 3 vs the Browns was a disaster for Justin Fields, but he had a great bounce-back performance helping lead the Bears to a 24-14 win over the Lions. On film you could see Fields was passing the ball into tighter windows and was not holding the ball as much when his first read wasn’t open. A big part of this leap in performance will be the drop in competition, but you could see the growth in Fields ability to work through his reads. This week Fields was named the long-term starter for the Bears and I hope this can lead to them calling more designed QB runs, which is by far the quickest way to help Fields take another leap in his NFL progression.

Justin Fields will start against the Lions - Windy City Gridiron
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Payton Turner:

Turner was a surprise 1st round pick in the draft and this week he had his busiest day for this Saints defense, he played a season-high 30 snaps vs the Giants. Turner generated four total pressures from 29 pass-rushing snaps against an offensive line that has pass protected well this season. Two of these pressures may be described as great coverage plays rather than true pass-rushing wins, but still this is progress for the young edge rusher. He is really only being used in obvious pass rush situations and does need to improve his ability vs the run, this is the main reason the Saints are not playing him more. This week the Saints could get healthier on the defensive line which could lead to less play time for Turner, however this early season play time will only help him progress as he learns more about this complex defensive system.


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Penei Sewell:

Penei Sewell has had an impressive start to his NFL career, but this is the first week where he has struggled to help the Lions offense. Sewell was still really good in the run game and did manage to save a late sack on Jared Goff. However his pass protection was not great against this very good Bears front. Robert Quinn has constant success when rushing against Sewell which led to the rookie giving up 8 total pressures in the game, by far his highest of the season. The worst pressure was a strip sack fumble that led to a touch-down, but this was just one of many times that Sewell was beaten for quickness on the outside. No real concerns going forward for Sewell, he just needs to use the tape to learn for the future.

Detroit Lions rookie OT Penei Sewell dealing with ankle injury, status  uncertain vs. Vikings - Pride Of Detroit
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Patrick Surtain:

Patrick Surtain had the toughest game of his rookie season thus far against Baltimore. His patience in coverage was exploited by the Ravens and he was late on several plays all game long, but especially in the first half. Surtain was targeted 9 times, allowing 7 catches for 76 yards and a 100.0-plus passer rating. This is twice as bad as any game he has played so far this season. However he was far from alone, with the entire Denver secondary struggling to contain Baltimore’s passing attack. I am hoping this game can help him develop his biggest weakness, which does seem to be attacking the ball in coverage. Surtain is great at avoiding double moves, but sometimes is too patient vs certain routes.

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