Rookie Watch: McPhee worthy of PT
Breaking into this rotation and making a big impact isn't easy to do as a rookie, but that is exactly what Pernell McPhee has accomplished. His performance just demands playing time now. McPhee has the size and body type to be Baltimore's heavier defensive end -- in the Cory Redding mold -- in its 4-3. Or he can line up at end when the Ravens use their 3-4.
But what he does best -- by a wide margin -- is rush the passer from an inside alignment. And this impressive skill was on full display in Week 13, when McPhee was consistently disruptive when he saw the field. Over the last 10 games, McPhee has registered at least half a sack in six of those contests, but he's been doing his best work lately. Something tells me more playing time is heading McPhee's way. He is very deserving.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Von Miller, Broncos LB (first round, No. 2)
Miller was inactive in Week 13, and even though Mario Haggan filled in adequately, the Broncos' defense suffered quite a bit in Miller's absence, especially at getting to the quarterback. He remains the best rookie in the league by a wide margin. Denver needs him back on the field ASAP.
|Cam Newton, Panthers QB (first round, No. 1)
Newton now has the single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback to add to his fantastic résumé. He also threw a 27-yard touchdown pass in Week 13. Newton separated himself by an even wider margin from all the other offensive rookies.
|A.J. Green, Bengals WR (first round, No. 4)
Green had yet another highly respectable day, this time against a very good Steelers defense. The term "No. 1 wide receiver" is thrown around way too much for my liking, but Green already qualifies. Soon, he should be elite.
|Andy Dalton, Bengals QB (second round, No. 35)
It was a very rough day for Dalton in Pittsburgh. Adding injury to insult, Dalton did not finish the game due to what was reported as a hip injury, but my hunch is that Cincinnati just didn't want him playing anymore in a game that was out of reach.
|Aldon Smith, 49ers LB (first round, No. 7)
Smith showed a fantastic bull rush en route to recording two sacks as the 49ers shut out the hapless Rams. Miller steals some of Smith's rookie thunder, but Smith is a difference-maker in his own right.
|Tyron Smith, Cowboys OT (first round, No. 9)
Sunday was a very tough day for the Cowboys' running game. And their protection was even worse, as Tony Romo was harassed all day in Dallas' loss in Arizona. The Cowboys need to shore things up up front while preparing for a huge game versus the Giants.
|Jabaal Sheard, Browns DE (second round, No. 37)
Sheard had a huge day in the Browns' loss to Baltimore. And he is making plays consistently again on a week-to-week basis. He has a sack in each of his last three games. The Browns' defense is a mess, especially against the run, but Sheard isn't the problem.
|J.J. Watt, Texans DE (fifth round, No. 11)
Watt's pass-rush presence continues to impress. Although this wasn't his best game thus far, Watt still was very disruptive to Falcons QB Matt Ryan and had his way with the Falcons' suspect offensive line.
|Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins LB (first round, No. 16)
The Jets did a nice job of keeping Kerrigan in check in Week 13 in terms of big plays. But the rookie was still a fine presence on Washington's defense with a consistent, workmanlike performance. Kerrigan is a very solid player.
|DeMarco Murray, Cowboys RB (third round, No. 71)
Murray rushed for only 38 yards in the Cowboys' loss in Arizona. Although I fully expect Murray to remain Dallas' lead back, it does look as though Felix Jones will be cutting into his touches.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
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