AFC East rookie rankings

October, 12, 2011
10/12/11
1:10
PM ET
Five weeks are in the books. So let's check the top rookie performers so far in the AFC East.

1. Mike Pouncey, C, Miami Dolphins

Drafted: First round

Stats: Four starts

Skinny: Pouncey has been one of the few consistent bright spots for the Dolphins (0-4). Miami's offensive line has underachieved, particularly in pass protection. But the Dolphins have had some success running between the tackles, and Pouncey is the primary reason.

2. Daniel Thomas, RB, Dolphins

Drafted: Second round

Stats: 42 carries, 202 rushing yards

Skinny: Thomas missed two games with a nagging hamstring injury. But he has been great when healthy. He averages 101 yards rushing per game. Thomas is the future for Miami at tailback. He has a good combination of vision, explosiveness and strength.

3. Nate Solder, OT, New England Patriots

Drafted: First round

Stats: Four starts

Skinny: Solder fits the Patriots' mold well. He has been consistent and versatile. Solder hasn't missed a beat playing right tackle for the injured Sebastian Vollmer. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has only been sacked eight times in five games.

4. Marcell Dareus, DT, Buffalo Bills

Drafted: First round

Stats: 11 tackles, one sack

Skinny: Dareus' stats don't stand out. But he's getting a lot of playing time and making key plays for Buffalo. His pass deflection against Brady led to a key interception return for a touchdown in Week 3. When Dareus isn't getting to the quarterback, he's batting balls down at the line of scrimmage.

5. Stevan Ridley, RB, Patriots

Drafted: Third round

Stats: 25 carries, 161 rushing yards, one touchdown

Skinny: Ridley is part of New England's tailback committee. He's been productive when his number is called. He averaged 6.4 yards per carry. Ridley is a strong runner who moves the chains.

Honorable mentions: Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, New York Jets; Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets; Chris Hairston, OT, Bills

James Walker | email

ESPN Miami Dolphins reporter

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