Rookie Watch: Jones not overhyped
Averaging close to 125 receiving yards during his past three full games, Julio Jones is coming on very strong for the Falcons. And with his explosive traits and big-play abilities, Atlanta is getting what it was after when the team traded a small fortune worth of draft picks to select Jones with the sixth overall selection.
But he is also extremely fast and explosive in a straight line. Jones is very competitive going up for the football and playing the game in general. And surely his willingness and ability to block in the run game endeared him to the Falcons. He is living up to the hype -- and then some.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Cam Newton, Panthers QB (first round, No. 1)
The Panthers and Newton were off in Week 9, but I saw no reason to remove him from his perch atop all rookies. On Sunday, they host the Titans in search of their third win. I love Carolina's chances in that game.
|Von Miller, Broncos LB (first round, No. 2)
Miller had half of a sack in Week 9, but was consistently in the Raiders' backfield -- against the run and in pursuit of Carson Palmer. Miller has been steady and consistent while also making plenty of big plays, despite lining up as a strongside linebacker -- which generally doesn't lend itself to showing up as much as Miller has.
|A.J. Green, Bengals WR (first round, No. 4)
Green started to really heat up in the second half in Tennessee. Even after catching just one pass in Week 1, Green is on pace for about 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. That's not too shabby.
|Julio Jones, Falcons WR (first round, No. 6)
Jones looks healthy to me! Against the Colts, with about 12 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Jones had two touchdowns and 130 receiving yards.
|Andy Dalton, Bengals QB (second round, No. 35)
Dalton played a very strong game against the Titans and his Bengals are 6-2. His stats were not remarkable, but he played much better than that stat line would indicate -- coming through with his best work when it mattered most. Dalton & Co. have a huge test this week with a wounded -- and possibly infuriated -- Steelers squad coming to town in a game that is instrumental in the AFC North.
|Aldon Smith, 49ers LB (first round, No. 7)
Smith had his quietest day since getting a prominent role in San Francisco's outstanding defense. Dropping him in these rankings is not an indictment on Smith's play at all, but the overall crop of rookies this year is really hitting its collective stride. And spots on this list are at a premium right now.
|Marcell Dareus, Bills DT (first round, No. 3)
It was a long day for the Bills against the Jets in the trenches. But this remains an extremely successful rookie season for the defensive lineman out of Alabama. He has exactly what it takes to be successful in the NFL for a long time to come. Like with Smith, dropping Dareus should not be held against him in this instance.
|DeMarco Murray, Cowboys RB (third round, No. 71)
Although I still have questions about Murray's change of direction and lateral agility, there is no arguing with his speed, power or production. And Murray put this latest huge game together against one of the best run defenses in the NFL.
|J.J. Watt, Texans DE (first round, No. 11)
The right side of Cleveland's offensive line was no match for Watt and his Texans counterparts. This game was over before it started. Watt has put together an exceptional rookie season thus far -- especially versus the run -- and has been instrumental in the revitalization of Houston's defense.
|Christian Ponder, Vikings QB (first round, No. 12)
Like Newton, Ponder was off in Week 9. The Vikings get yet an extra day of rest before traveling to Green Bay next Monday night. Pass defense has been a problem for the defending Super Bowl champions, but the Packers' defensive backs have also been excellent at causing turnovers. It will be a stiff challenge for the poised rookie quarterback.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.