With two weeks left in the 2020 NFL season, I thought I'd look at some of the rookies who have really made an impact with the first 15 weeks of their careers. Check out my Offensive All-Rookie Team below.
Be sure to check out Hall of Famer Gil Brandt's Defensive All-Rookie Team.
The young passer has gone toe-to-toe with some of the best in the league, and if it weren't for some poor clock management and bad luck (L.A. has lost seven games by one score or less), he could have a much better record as a starter than his current mark of 4-9. On the way to a record-setting rookie season, Herbert has elevated the Chargers' offense with his sheer arm strength, accuracy and touch. Herbert impressed right out of the gate in Week 2, nearly pulling out a victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Most recently, he's guided the Chargers to back-to-back wins on game-winning drives. The improvement shown throughout the season is a great sign.
In a season where the Jaguars couldn't get off the QB carousel, their undrafted rookie running back remained the one true constant on offense. Robinson has been exceptional this season as one of just three players to have over 1,000 rushing yards through Week 15 (joining Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook). Equally impressive is the fact that he's racking up 4.5 yards per carry even though defenses know he's likely getting the rock. The undrafted Robinson was initially hidden within this talented running back class; no one expected him to find this amount of success except for the franchise, which released former first-round pick Leonard Fournette prior to Week 1. Now with an impressive run game in place, the Jags can look to the quarterback position this offseason, when they'll have a huge opportunity to jump off that QB carousel for good.
After a slow start to the season, Taylor has morphed the Colts' rushing attack into one of the most dangerous run games in recent weeks. A top-10 rusher through 15 weeks, Taylor is producing like he's running behind the best offensive line in the league, and it's a beautiful thing to watch.
Gibson has missed the past two weeks with a turf toe injury, but for most of the season, he's served as the perfect complement to Washington's dominant defense, with his ability to move the chains and control the clock as an effective rusher. Gibson has logged 11 rushing touchdowns and is rushing for 4.7 yards per carry. Not to mention, he's been a reliable target in the passing game for Alex Smith.
Jefferson has been everything the Vikings hoped he would be (and needed him to be) when they drafted him 22nd overall last April. He filled the void left by Stefon Diggs as a field-stretcher and all-around playmaker opposite Adam Thielen and is setting records in the process. Having already broken several of Hall of Famer Randy Moss' franchise rookie marks, Jefferson, who has 1,182 receiving yards so far, needs 196 more over his final two games (vs. the Saints on Christmas Day and vs. the Lions in Week 17) to surpass Anquan Boldin for most by a rookie in the Super Bowl era.
Aiyuk has become a star on a depleted 49ers offense over the last two months, scoring four TDs in the last five games. Just as we all expected, Kyle Shanahan has used Aiyuk's talents perfectly in the run and pass games, allowing the rookie to go to work against (and often beat) defenders. Aiyuk appears to have built a lot of confidence, which will only help him maintain success when the rest of the team's offensive playmakers are healthy.
Tight end play has been down across the league this season, and the rookie class is no exception. I chose Kmet here because he's had the biggest impact on his unit, narrowly edging Cleveland's Harrison Bryant and New Orleans' Adam Trautman. The Bears tight end had a slow start to the season but has emerged as a playmaker for Chicago down the stretch.
The Broncos center hasn't been all that great in any one area, with a mixed bag of results over the season. While Dallas' Tyler Biadasz has been better overall, Cushenberry has started every game this season. That gives him the edge here.
Onwenu is Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded rookie through Week 15, but he's flying under the radar, simply because of his unglamorous position and the fact that his team is having its worst season since the turn of the millennium. The Patriots guard has held his own in pass protection (allowing 13 total pressures), but he really shines in the run game and has helped pave the way for New England's sixth-ranked rushing attack.
The Seahawks have featured roughly 100 running backs this season due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols, but no matter who's toted the rock, Lewis has been a constant presence paving the way for the Seahawks' 11th-ranked run game. The third-round draft selection has played in every game and 90 percent of the team's offensive snaps.
The top rookie tackle in the NFL right now, Wirfs has done extremely well protecting a quarterback who's more than twice his age, giving up just two sacks all season (both in Week 5 vs. the Bears). He's also been instrumental in Ronald Jones' breakout season as a steady run blocker. Overall, Tampa really struck gold with this pick.
Becton has made his money as a mauling run blocker for the Jets this season, but he's also shown he can protect the blindside of whomever the Jets trot out at QB on any given day. He's been a little inconsistent in pass pro, and nagging injuries have hindered him, but Becton's strung together a fine season to build on.
Top 15 Offensive Players
Each week in the 2020 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts. Now, let's get to it -- the Week 16 pecking order is below.
NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from Week 14's rankings.
The best time to really evaluate great players is when they play against great teams, and Mahomes stayed patient and rode the rave against the Saints' stout defense. Despite being sacked a season-high four times Sunday, his short memory and ability to hyperfocus in critical situations allowed the Chiefs to battle in the second half and ultimately come out victorious for their 22nd win in 23 games (including playoffs).
Packers coach Matt LaFleur voiced his disappointment with his offense's performance against the Carolina Panthers. And while running back Aaron Jones found great success on the ground, Rodgers had one of the lowest outputs of his career. His 143 passing yards on Saturday night marked a season low; it was just his third career game with fewer than 150 passing yards on a minimum of 25 attempts. While he struggled against the league's 21st-ranked total defense, his biggest competition in the MVP race was dicing up the Saints' No. 2-ranked unit. But a win's a win!
The Titans' offense is on an incredible pace, recording five straight games with at least 30 points and 420 total yards. Henry has no doubt been a huge part of the team's success, as he added another near 140-yard rushing game and his 15th rushing TD of the year in Sunday's victory. Don't count him out in the chase for 2,000 rushing yards. It's gonna come down to the wire.
The entire Packers offense had an off night, and that included the star wide receiver, who snapped an eight-game streak in which he had at least one touchdown reception. I'd expect every Packers offensive playmaker to bring their A games on Sunday in a big matchup against Tennessee, especially with the first-round playoff bye on the line.
Cook recorded his fourth 100-yard rushing game in the last five games with 132 rushing yards and a TD on 24 carries. He's done enough -- and then some, with 1,484 rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs in 13 games -- to help get the Vikings into the postseason, but a banged-up defense and the offense's inability to capitalize on key opportunities early in the year and late in games will likely have Minnesota sitting at home come tournament time.
As good as New Orleans' secondary has been, Kelce still found openings in the defense to haul in a team-high eight catches and 68 receiving yards, including a 1-yard TD reception for his 10th of the season. Is there anyone out there who can stop this guy?
Just as I expected, Kamara became more involved with Drew Brees back on the field, recording 94 scrimmage yards and a 1-yard TD reception. When Brees and Michael Thomas return to full health, expect Kamara's numbers to jump -- especially in the postseason. He's the engine that really makes this unit take off.
Allen has played incredibly well down the stretch, going 7-1 over the last eight games, with the only loss being the Hail Murray game, to help the Bills clinch the AFC East division title for the first time since 1995. He's playing with a ton of confidence and has Brian Daboll's offense clicking at the perfect time. If Allen didn't have that slight slump back in October, the MVP conversation might be a three-person race right now.
What's happening in Houston is pretty remarkable. Watson (4-10 record, 110.6 passer rating this season) is currently the only quarterback in NFL history to have 10 or more losses with a 100-plus passer rating in a season. It just goes to show how well he's playing -- and how poorly his supporting cast is performing.
The Giants' defense made a concerted effort to stop the run game and held the Browns' rushing attack to just 106 yards. Chubb had a season-low 50 rushing yards (excluding Week 4, when he exited early with a knee injury) and a rushing TD, but it was Baker Mayfield who put the offense on his back to keep the Browns in the AFC playoff picture. This offense is beginning to show balance at the right time.
Hill's found the end zone more than any other receiver this season. In fact, he joined Randy Moss as the only wideout with at least 17 total TDs in a season over the last 25 campaigns. Moss did it three times, in 1998, 2003 and '07. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hill accomplish this feat multiple times, given the chemistry he's built with Mahomes.
Wilson had fewer than 150 passing yards for the first time this season against Ron Rivera's menacing defensive front. Wilson is far from the MVP-worthy form he had earlier in the year, but the bottom line is, Sunday's win over Washington clinched a playoff berth for Seattle.
The lone offensive rookie named to the Pro Bowl roster, Jefferson continues to wow, week after week. The first-round receiver reached 73 catches, breaking Randy Moss' team record for receptions by a rookie (he had 69 in 1998). (How many times are we going to mention Moss today?) He's also on pace for 1,350 receiving yards, which would also surpass Moss' team rookie record of 1,313. Vikings fans will be seeing the Griddy for a long time.
Hopkins has been quiet of late, but his play against the Eagles was the loudest it's been since joining the Cardinals. He posted a season-high 169 receiving yards and a touchdown on nine catches to help the Cardinals hold onto the NFC's final wild-card spot.
For as good as his quarterback has been, Diggs deserves some credit for taking the Bills' offense to the next level. With two weeks to go in the regular season, Diggs leads the league with 111 receptions and ranks third in receiving yards (1,314). Only 10 yards separate Diggs, Travis Kelce (1,318) and Hopkins (1,324).