We're in the most important month of the 2018 NFL season. While the season hasn't come to an end yet, we've seen a good amount of football to be able to comment on the rookies who are looking like amazing draft picks and some that have disappointed in their rookie campaigns. The 2018 draft class was seen as one of the deepest quarterback classes in recent history, so there was a lot of excitement coming into this season.
It may be a tad bit early to make assumptions on the younger guys right now, and we're going to just make an early assessment of this year's rookies. Obviously, there's loads of time for them to turn things around if they're struggling now. We've also seen many rookie stars flame out in subsequent years.
Anyway, there are rookies who have stood out in their college careers, led their NCAA teams to the College Football Playoffs and perhaps even the College Football National Championship Game. We saw many rookies from last year's Alabama/Georgia title game declare for the draft, but that doesn't mean that they're all going to be successful in the pros. Sure, you can argue that they got a lot of years ahead of them, but there have been times where we should've faced the truth sooner than later.
Here are 10 NFL first round rookies who look like busts and 10 steals from later rounds. Let me know what you think of my picks in the comments section. Thanks for reading!
20 Looks Like A Bust: Josh Allen - 7th Overall
As a San Jose State reporter, I've been keeping tabs on not only my alma mater, but also the rest of the Mountain West Conference. And, needless to say, former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen looks like a bust thus far.
Allen has an amazing arm, which is why he was drafted so high. He's also displayed some amazing athleticism in the games he's played. But, he was thrust into the starting role perhaps a little sooner than he should've been and it's showing. Allen is a better on-the-move thrower, but his accuracy appears to be an issue.
19 Looks Like A Steal: Will Hernandez - 34th Overall
New York Giants guard Will Hernandez may not be a household name, but he ought to be. The Giants selected Hernandez with the 34th overall pick of the second round at this year's draft, and as far as I know, the former UTEP guard hasn't disappointed his first team yet.
As an offensive guard, Hernandez has helped open up some lanes for Barkley. Hernandez also received honorable mention status on Pro Football Focus' top 10 list of the best rookies.
Hernandez is an integral part of the Giants' offensive line, which is a good thing as this team is trying to maximize the talent they have at the skill positions.
18 Looks Like A Bust: Rashaad Penny - 27th Overall
The Seattle Seahawks have been one of the surprise teams of the season, as they've been able to play some decent defense and their offense has been rejuvenated thanks to a top-flight running game. The Hawks drafted Rashaad Penny in hopes that he would be the no.1 back to turn their running game around. While Penny has shown some signs of improvement as the season's gone on, it's looking like he was a reach as a 27th overall pick. Mike Davis and Chris Carson have been ahead of Penny on the depth chart and he'll have to prove his value to the team as his rookie campaign ends and he heads into his second season.
17 Looks Like A Steal: Harold Landry - 41st Overall
The Tennessee Titans needed edge help, so it made perfect sense that they selected outside linebacker Harold Landry with the 41st overall pick in the second round of this year's draft. Landry played college football at Boston College, and as a junior in 2016, led the country and set a school-high record with 16.5 sacks.
In the NFL, Landry has been getting more and more snaps for the Titans as the weeks go by, and was named to the Pro Football Focus Midseason All-Rookie Team on November 2. Landry has come up with crucial plays when the Titans need it the most.
16 Looks Like A Bust: Taven Bryan - 29th Overall
Does Taven Bryan fill a need of the Jacksonville Jaguars? Probably not. But, by now, we should know that Jacksonville tends to overload on defensive talent. This includes Bryan, who played college football at Florida as a defensive end.
According to Sports Illustrated, Bryan has been said to be a bit of a project. The Jaguars could've and should've selected a quarterback or tight end in the first round of this year's draft, but instead, Jaguars executive VP Tom Coughlin was more impressed by Bryan's flexibility and quickness. Yet, Jacksonville is still waiting on Bryan to raise his level of play in his rookie season.
15 Looks Like A Steal: Josh Jackson - 45th Overall
The Green Bay Packers appeared to have made the right choice when they added a guy who had first-round talent—cornerback Josh Jackson, who was selected with the 45th overall pick in the second round of this year's draft—to go with rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander, who was selected 18th overall this year.
Jackson played college football at Iowa. As a first-year starter in his junior year in 2017, named Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year as well as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. Fast forward to 2018 as Jackson has been one of the rookies who have been helping out the Packers' young secondary. While they're not quite at a high level yet, they've shown a lot of promise for the future.
14 Looks Like A Bust: Josh Rosen - 10th Overall
Sports Illustrated reported that the Arizona Cardinals decided closer to this year's draft time that they wouldn’t be trading up for a quarterback, but that was before they knew the most polished quarterback in this year's draft, Josh Rosen, would remain available.
Rosen, whom the Cardinals selected 10th overall, was an acute field reader at UCLA and played a timing-and-rhythm type of football, which often translates well to the NFL. Rosen was also known for his seemingly magical ability to throw receivers open. But, right now, Rosen has been struggling in this Arizona offense. We've already seen his first offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy, get fired, so perhaps he just needs some continuity going into next season.
13 Looks Like A Steal: Anthony Miller - 51st Overall
This year, the Chicago Bears landed one of the best wide receivers in the draft. The Bears selected Anthony Miller with the 51st overall pick in the second round.
Miller played college football at Memphis, and really broke out in his 2017 senior year. Miller also broke Duke Calhoun's school records for career receptions and receiving yards, Carlos Singleton's school record for career receiving touchdowns, and his own outright record for single season receiving touchdowns and shared record for single game receiving touchdowns.
Miller has been a rookie on the rise and his game has been growing. He's emerged as a solid no.2 receiver behind Allen Robinson and this Bears offense has really clicked, after being overlooked going into the season.
12 Looks Like A Bust: Isaiah Wynn - 23rd Overall
After losing Nate Solder in free agency, the Patriots used one of their two first round picks to land left tackle Isaiah Wynn. Unfortunately Wynn tore his ACL in the preseason and has had to miss his entire rookie year, as the Patriots machine rolls on. Wynn will have to show he can stay healthy when he's back for the 2019 season, but it's difficult to project how he'll be able to bounce back at the moment. It might seem unfair to put Wynn here, given that it's mostly due to an injury. Hopefully his second season will really show what he's made of.
11 Looks Like A Steal: Jessie Bates III - 54th Overall
The Cincinnati Bengals selected safety Jessie Bates III with the 54th overall pick in the second round of this year's draft. Bates III initially committed to play college football at Toledo, but then switched his commitment to Wake Forest. After his freshman season, Bates III was named to the USA Today Freshman All-America Team, All-ACC Second-Team, and ACC All-Freshman First-Team.
Bates III has been a bright spot on an otherwise laughable Bengals defense. Bates recorded his first career pick six, when he intercepted a pass from Jameis Winston in Week 8. Bates III also leads the Bengals in tackles.
10 Looks Like A Bust: Kolton Miller - 15th Overall
Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Kolton Miller has had a rough rookie season in terms of staying healthy and efficiency of play. Miller was selected 15th overall by the Raiders this year. Miller played college football at UCLA, where he took over as a starting offensive tackle in 2015 after Conor McDermott sustained an injury against California.
While Miller is one of the two rookies who gave quarterback Derek Carr the optimism amid a disappointing season, Miller can only do so much while struggling with injuries to his knee and elbow. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden admires Miller's grit, but his effectiveness is clearly being hampered and Derek Carr hasn't stayed upright this season.
9 Looks Like A Steal: Justin Reid - 68th Overall
The Houston Texans appeared to have a steal in the third round with the 68th overall pick with safety Justin Reid out of Stanford. Reid played college football at Stanford from 2015 to 2017 and wrapped up his college career with 170 tackles, six interceptions and one sack.
Since that big day, Reid has looked like a smart pick for the Texans. Reid features a seldom combination of athleticism, instincts and intelligence—both on and off the field. Moreover, Reid has surpassed expectations and seems to be a quality running mate for veteran safety Tyrann Mathieu at the back-end of the Texan defense.
8 Looks Like A Bust: Vita Vea - 12th Overall
The good news for the Buccaneers is that Vita Vea is finally on the field after missing a lot of time with lingering injuries from training camp. Vea's even started to show he can be an asset in rushing the passer, but overall, the Buccaneers have to be disappointed with what they've gotten out of Vea. The Bucs were heavily criticized for passing on safety Derwin James in the draft, whom many felt would've addressed their biggest need. The Bucs defense continues to struggle and Vea has to prove he can be an every-game starter. They'll hope to get a lot more out of him in year two.
7 Looks Like A Steal: Antonio Callaway - 105th Overall
It was a little surprising to see the Cleveland Browns draft a wide receiver with some red flags going into the draft, especially considering the team still had the talented, but troubled Josh Gordon. We saw on Hard Knocks that the red flags resurfaced with Antonio Callaway, but as the season's gone on, Callaway has stayed out of trouble and emerged as a deep threat for the rejuvenated Browns. His role in the Browns offense should keep increasing as the offense continues to improve and he's shown some good chemistry with Baker Mayfield. Expect to see a breakout from Callaway next season.
6 Looks Like A Bust: Sam Darnold - 3rd Overall
Could Sam Darnold's early top-notch performances be nothing more than a fluke? If you're a New York Jets fan, you're probably going to hope that's not the case. However, aside from the Week 1 blowout win over the Detroit Lions and a mid-season win over Denver, Darnold has displayed a ton of accuracy issues, as well as poor decision making.
The former USC quarterback was selected third overall by the Jets, who saw potential in the young man who led No. 9 USC to a Pac-12 Conference Championship with a 31-28 win over No. 15 Stanford in 2017. Darnold was already struggling quite a bit, then missed quite a bit of time with a strained foot.
5 Looks Like A Steal: Kerryon Johnson - 43rd Overall
While it used to be commonplace for teams to look for their franchise running backs in the first round (and it still happens occasionally) a lot of teams have been able to find quality running backs on day two of the draft. For the Detroit Lions, it seemed like they would never be able to find their running back of the future. They went through an embarrassing multi-year stretch where they didn't have a 100-yard rusher in a game. Kerryon Johnson broke that trend this season and while he may fall short of 1,000 yards this season, he's shown a lot of promise for the Lions.
4 Looks Like A Bust: Rashaan Evans - 22nd Overall
Here's an excellent example of why not everyone who has played college football at Alabama is worthy of being a first-round pick.
The Tennessee Titans used their 22nd overall pick and took a chance on former Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans with the hope that he'd solidify the middle of their linebacking corps in the near future. Were the Titans correct? Well, it certainly hasn't looked that way so far.
Evans has shown some positive glimpses, but his statistic line is disappointing to say the least. It could be a case of a rookie just needing more time to develop, but given that the Titans traded up for him, they were likely expecting more this year.
3 Looks Like A Steal: Darius Leonard - 36th Overall
The Colts really seem to have had a great draft in 2018. They took Quenton Nelson, who has emerged as one of the best rookie linemen in the league, and their second round pick, linebacker Darius Leonard has been one of the more impressive rookie defensive players. He's led the team in tackles at certain points this season, and has already surpassed 100 tackles for the season. That's quite simply amazing production for a rookie, especially one that not many people were talking about going into the draft. Don't be surprised if he's among the nominees for defensive rookie of the year.
2 Looks Like A Bust: Hayden Hurst - 25th Overall
The Ravens' choice to select tight end Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina 25th overall in this year's draft, hasn't been looking good in Baltimore. Selecting Hurst was a rather surprising move, and looked solid in the preseason before he sustained a foot injury. Hurst has returned to the field, but he has yet to produce at the expected level of a first-round pick. Hurst's lack of production has been a concern as he hasn't gotten comfortable with the Ravens' offense either. Hurst has seen a lot of his snaps go to Mark Andrews, a third round rookie who's emerged as of late.
1 Looks Like A Steal: Nick Chubb - 35th Overall
Let's end with the Cleveland Browns, who selected running back Nick Chubb with the 35th overall pick in the second round of this year's draft. Chubb played college football at Georgia, where he took over as a starting running back after starter and future NFL player Todd Gurley got suspended by the Bulldogs. Chubb became a 2017 SEC Champion, but fell a step back the following year as the Alabama Crimson Tide defense held him to only 25 yards on 18 carries in the 26-23 overtime loss.
This season hasn't ended yet, but Chubb has already won two NFL Rookie of the Week awards and seventh for the Browns. Chubb has been putting on a show since he took over as the Browns' starting running back in Week 7, following the Carlos Hyde trade. Cleveland really seems to have nailed their 2018 draft class.