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NFL Rookie Radar: Who's Off to a Great Start After Three Weeks?

September 26, 2019

The NFL regular season is now three weeks old, and the newest class of rookies now have a couple NFL games under their belt.  We've already seen major breakouts from some members of the 2019 class, especially on the offensive end.  Let's take a look at three rookies who are already dominating at the professional level.

 

Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Redskins

 

McLaurin was drafted in the third round this past April at the 76th overall selection, and was expected to be competing for a slot receiver position for this season.  However, with a strong preseason and the surprising cut of WR Josh Doctson, McLaurin shot up the depth chart and was slated as a starting wideout during Week 1's game against the Eagles.  He made the most of that opportunity, logging 5 receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown, a 69-yarder to be exact.  He followed that up against Dallas with 5 catches, 62 yards and another touchdown, and recorded another score against Chicago on Monday Night, along with 6 more catches for 70 yards.  He leads the Redskins in receiving yards and is second in receptions, and he seems to be establishing himself as one of Case Keenum's favorite targets in Washington.  Barring injury, he'll see much more action as the year goes on, and McLaurin may be the wide receiver that the Redskins have desperately needed over the years. 

 

 

Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

 

Lamar Jackson is making his presence known as a dual threat quarterback this season, and Hollywood Brown is making things much easier for Jackson.  Brown was the 25th overall pick in the 2019 draft after a successful career at Oklahoma, where he caught balls from the likes of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.  Although it was against a putrid Miami defense, Brown burst onto the scene in Week 1 with 4 catches for 147 yards and two scores, with one being a 47-yard score and another one being a 83-yard touchdown, which is a rookie record that Brown set.  In Week 2 against Arizona, Brown recorded 8 receptions for 86 yards, and had a huge 41-yard catch in the final minutes of the game that essentially sealed the victory for Baltimore. He took a little step back against the Chiefs with only 2 catches for 49 yards, but Brown, in just three games, is already showing that big-play ability that he showed at Oklahoma at the professional level, showing why he was a first-round pick.  His blazing speed and great hands are already giving opposing defensive backs nightmares, and he is quickly establishing himself as a main target for Jackson alongside tight end Mark Andrews.  The Ravens have been searching for a big-play wideout since the days of Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin, and it looks like Brown is the solution to the problem.

 

Gardner Minshew II, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

 

The Jacksonville Jaguars were mired with the quarterback play of Blake Bortles for what felt like an eternity before finally cutting ties with him this spring.  In return, they signed Nick Foles, who had been a great back-up and a solid starter with the Eagles and even led them to a Super Bowl victory over the Patriots, inserting himself as a Philadelphia sports legend. He was doing great in his regular season debut, firing the pigskin all over the place: until he got hurt at the end of the 1st quarter.  Jags' fans immediately prepared for the worst, as their big-name signing was seriously injured not even 15 minutes into the game.

 

Enter Gardner Minshew.

 

Minshew, who's basically been doubted everywhere he's went, turned in a great performance against the Chiefs, going 22-27 with 275 yards and two scores in his debut. Up next was a battle against the division rival Texans, and the offense was held in check for most of the game.  But, on their final drive, Minshew led the Jags down the field with an array of amazing plays (including one tough fourth-down conversion) and lofted an easy touchdown to D.J. Chark for the potential winning score.  They missed on the 2-point conversion and lost, but it was still an impressive performance.  In Week 3, Minshew earned his first win in the NFL against the Titans, throwing for another two touchdowns.  In a very short time-frame, Minshew has emerged as one of the league's hottest commodities with his eccentric outfits and his play on the field. He's quickly building rapport with receivers like Chark and Dede Westbrook, and Minshew's had a very high completion percentage through his first three games.  Granted, he's not flinging the football deep downfield like a Mahomes or Rodgers every time, but he's shown the capability to hit the open receiver downfield plenty of times. One of my favorite things about Minshew's game is the way he can move around in the pocket and around pressure, and either scramble and run or get the ball to the open man.  There are plenty of examples of this in his clutch drive against the Texans:

 

Even with Minshew's success, there a still a lot of issues with this Jacksonville team.  The offensive line's underwhelming play has caused problems for Minshew and running back Leonard Fournette, and Jalen Ramsey's recent trade request has cast a cloud over the organization. Even Minshew's future isn't guaranteed, as Foles is still slated to come back later on in the season. For now, however, it's Gardner Minshew's team, and he's giving Jaguars' fans a ray of hope for their future among all the headlines.

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