If you’re a football, then you may already be thinking about the 2019 NFL Draft. If you’re a Detroit Lions fan like myself, then that’s a certainty. Before the start of the season, if someone would have told me that the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions would have the same 1-3 record, I would have bet my house against it.
Okay, not my house, but I would have made a serious wager on it and would have felt relatively confident about it. Here we are, and both teams are 1-3, so I’m glad that I didn’t put my money where my mouth is because I would have lost.
Before we jump down the rabbit hole of the 2019 NFL Draft, let’s take a look back at the 2018 NFL Draft and see what rookies performed well for the fourth week of the regular season.
Royce Freeman will not be denied.
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/mOaWtjxbwr
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 2, 2018
Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos
Before I get talking about this impressive run from Freeman, I should talk about Phillip Lindsay. The undrafted free agent from 2018 has looked like the best find thus far. He’s run incredibly well for the Broncos and has certainly become the lightning to Freeman’s thunder. He scored his first career rushing touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs and sent me packing to a 1-3 record in fantasy football.
In the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Denver Broncos took a running back that was 92nd overall on my big board and was just behind Kerryon Johnson on my running back rankings. I’m not condemning the Broncos for drafting Freeman with the 71st overall pick, though. It was actually a smart move by them.
As you can see from the run above, Freeman won’t stop until he’s in the end zone. Normally, he’s a north and south runner, but he has no issues jump cutting his way or barreling over a defender to pick up extra yardage or score a touchdown. So far during his rookie season, he has 219 rushing yards on 44 carries and three touchdowns. Against the Chiefs, he had 8 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. He’s off to an impressive start and the Broncos look to have a legitimate rushing attack.
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) October 2, 2018
Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals
The #DraftTwitter community got bashed for claiming that Baker Mayfield should already get a gold jacket after his performance to give the Cleveland Browns their first win in 635 days. Now we’re going to get bashed for our comments on Josh Rosen and how good he looked in his first career start.
Whether you’re playing at home or on the road, starting as a quarterback in the NFL is never easy. We all know that playing on the road can be the tougher task of the two, but in all reality, playing this game is never easy. However, Josh Rosen looked like a poised veteran at times on Sunday against the Seahawks. There were times that he hit wide receivers like Larry Fitzgerald right in the hands and he ended up dropping the ball. Maybe having a competent QB is throwing Fitzgerald off of his game.
#AZCardinals rookie QB Josh Rosen completed only 55.6% of his passes. However, after adjusting for drops and throwaways, Rosen's completion percentage rises to 72%
— PFF ARZ Cardinals (@PFF_Cardinals) October 1, 2018
In the losing effort to the Seahawks, Rosen completed 15 of 27 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown. Had there been a few fewer drops, he would have had a better stat line for the box-score scouts and possibly his first career win. However, his first career start was solid and he’s only going to improve. Rosen made some incredible throws in week four and is only going to make more of them as time goes on. He manipulated safeties with his eyes and looked like a veteran going through his progressions. There were limited situations in which he panicked, and he placed the ball perfectly on plenty of throws. Once he builds more rapport with Christian Kirk, David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals could develop into one of the more promising offenses in the league.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
If you’re a Lions fan and you’re asking me why the Lions don’t use Kerryon Johnson more, I don’t have answers. In all honesty, he’s touching the field more than LeGarrette Blount and is seeing the bulk of the carries. Maybe what we’re griping about is that Kerryon should be featured with the first-team offense to start the game and every play throughout the game. I can agree with that. The only thing that I can wrap my head around is that they like to use Theo Riddick in the passing game, and as long as they have Matthew Stafford, they will be a pass-first offense. It’s just the world we live in.
On the run above, Kerryon Johnson does a great job putting his skills on display. He finds an opening and takes it. In the process, you see slight burst but mostly power from Johnson. He drops a shoulder into safety Jeff Heath and puts himself over the goal-line for the touchdown.
This run got everyone out of their seat because seeing a running back in Detroit gash defenses for 5.7 yards per carry is unexpected. Through his first four games, Johnson has 38 carries for 216 yards and one touchdown. In week three against the Patriots, he broke the 70-game streak of the Lions not having a 100-yard rusher. In week four, he finished with 9 carries for 55 yards and one touchdown. Johnson provides this offense with plenty of balance, and he’s certainly looked like the missing piece. It’s now on the coaching staff to utilize him to his full potential.
I still can't get over this route from Calvin Ridley. Unreal. Absolutely, unreal. pic.twitter.com/VI6HHif0Bf
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) October 2, 2018
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Somehow, someway, Calvin Ridley lasted until the 26th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. Maybe his skillset didn’t scream as a top-1o pick, but he certainly should have been the first receiver taken in the first round. Maybe there are some teams wondering why they passed on this talented rookie, or it could be that he fell into the most perfect scenario.
Through his first four games in the NFL, Ridley has 15 receptions for 264 yards and six touchdowns. Keep in mind that that’s more than any wide receiver in the NFL right now. Ridley has been playing on a different level, and a lot of that has to do with being paired with the leading wide receiver in receiving yardage, Julio Jones (502 yards).
In week four, Ridley might have run the best route of any receiver, or at least made the defensive back look the dumbest. Ridley sells the defensive back with an out-cut on a double move and gets vertical on Dre Kirkpatrick of the Cincinnati Bengals. Ridley has had superb route running in the early part of his career and he’s only going to improve. Against the Bengals, he had four receptions for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Since not recording a catch in his rookie debut, he’s been a man on a mission, and this was by far the best route of week four in the NFL.