Greg Gabriel: Which rookies impressed most in Week 1?
Every year, once we get into the regular season, many in the media are looking to see how the top draft picks played on opening weekend. While some high picks played well, it’s always some of the lower-round guys who gather the most attention.
That’s not to say that the premium picks are underachieving, it’s just a case of how they played in week one.
Everyone wanted to see how the draft’s top player would play. Myles Garrett, the number one pick in last April’s draft, injured an ankle in practice late last week and did not suit up for Cleveland’s game against Pittsburgh. Garrett has a high ankle sprain and it could be a few more weeks before he sees the field. Even when he does play, he might not be at 100 percent as high ankle sprains have a way of lingering for quite a while.
The second player selected was North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Chicago’s plan for Trubisky is to sit and learn for most of his rookie year even though he outplayed starter Mike Glennon during the preseason. Over the years we have heard clubs with that plan several times and seldom does the team stick to the original plan. Based on the way Glennon played in the Bears first game, we might be seeing Trubisky before too long.
Some of the best performances we saw by rookies were all by running backs and three of those players weren’t drafted in the first round. Thursday, as Kansas City beat up on New England, Kareem Hunt had an outstanding night. Hunt who was the 86th overall selection ran for 148 yards on just 17 carries and one touchdown. He also caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Quite a performance for the third rounder.
Sunday in Chicago, fourth-round pick Tarik Cohen only played part time but was a key element of the Bears offense. What makes his performance even more impressive is Cohen is only 5-foot-6, 185 pounds, so he clearly outplayed his size.
He finished the game with 66 yards on five carries, had eight receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown, returned three punts for 45 yards and played quarterback in the Wildcat formation. Going forward, the plan is to keep getting Cohen about 15 touches a game. He is such a dynamic threat that he can make things happen on so few touches.
Going into last season, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook looked to be a sure first round pick. Come draft day, he had to wait until the second round before he heard his name called and the Minnesota Vikings are glad he lasted that long. Cook totaled 127 rushing yards on 22 carries and 10 yards receiving on three catches. While he didn’t score, he was a vital part of the Vikings offense.
The first running back selected in the draft was LSU’s Leonard Fournette. Fournette went fourth overall to Jacksonville. On Sunday at Houston, Fournette finished with 100 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. One of the questions on Fournette coming out was his hands and ability as a receiver. He showed that he can be valuable as a receiver finishing the game with three receptions for 24 yards and no drops. Needless to say, he had a successful debut.