Perspective Of An Average Steelers Fan: Checking Out The Rookies

The preseason rookie tale of the tape compared statistics of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ top three draft picks plus Joshua Dobbs and their contemporaries selected by other teams in the 2018 NFL draft.

Here is a comparison to their counterparts with a quarter of the regular season completed:


Here we see Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs compared against the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft:

Passing stats through week 4 of the regular season (stats via Pro Football Reference):

Name G GS Snaps Snap % Cmp Att Cmp % YDs TDs INTs Sack Y/C Y/G Rating
Josh Dobbs 0 0 0 0.00 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Mason Rudolph 0 0 0 0.00 0 0 0.0 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Baker Mayfield 2 1 128 41.29 38 64 59.4 496 2 2 3 13.1 248.0 81.2
Sam Darnold 4 4 243 100.00 73 127 57.5 868 4 5 10 11.9 217.0 72.6
Josh Allen 4 3 219 87.25 55 103 53.4 666 2 4 18 12.1 166.5 63.8
Josh Rosen 2 1 73 35.10 19 34 55.9 216 1 1 2 11.4 108.0 72.7
Lamar Jackson 4 0 47 14.97 1 4 25.0 24 0 0 1 24.0 6.0 52.1

Synopsis of each listed quarterback for the first quarter of the 2018 season:

Joshua Dobbs & Mason Rudolph have not appeared in a game so far. Dobbs has been active on game day but has no snaps. Rudolph put on the inactive roster for the first four games.

Baker Mayfield did not play Week 1 or 2. His debut was the third game with two minutes left in in 1st half and helped the Cleveland Browns win their first game in a longtime. In his first start, he had two touchdown passes but also threw two interceptions and fumbled away two balls for four turnovers. Despite this, Browns fans believe they have found their franchise quarterback with an impressive 13.1 yards per completion which is currently 7th in the NFL.

Sam Darnold after a pick six on his first career pass, Darnold had an impressive 1st game going 16-20 for 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. Only rookie quarterback to start week 1. He passed for 334 yards in 2nd start but did have two interceptions. He has cooled off after a hot start. He now leads the rookies with 5 interceptions which is 3rd highest in the league (tied with Ben Roethlisberger) but also leads the rookies with 4 touchdown passes. He is also the only one to start all four games.

Josh Allen came in with the Buffalo Bills down 40-0 in the season opener. Allen’s starting debut in 2nd game. After contributing to the Bills upset victory of the Minnesota Vikings, the Green Bay Packers brought him back to earth. The Packers sacked him seven times and forced three turnovers from the rookie. Two interceptions and a fumble during a 22-0 humiliation. Allen leads the NFL in one category. Opponents have sacked Allen 18 times. Will he survive the season?

Josh Rosen did not play Week 1 or 2. He finally started his first game in week 4. His statistics were not impressive: 15 completions in 27 attempts for 180 yards and a touchdown. However, recaps of the Arizona Cardinals game against Seattle Seahawks describe a poised rookie whose receivers victimized him by dropping multiple balls. Even Larry Fitzgerald had a drop or two.

Lamar Jackson has appeared in all four Baltimore Ravens games. John Harbaugh uses him under center as a runner with Joe Flacco split out wide. He’s passed 4 times but only one 24-yard completion. Jackson can run as we saw Sunday night in Pittsburgh. So far, he has gained 62 yards on 13 carries.


Rookie receiving stats through week 4 of the regular season (stats via Pro Football Reference):

Name G Snaps Snap% RECs Yds Y/C Y/G Catch % TDs
James Washington 4 164 55.59 5 49 9.8 12.3 45.5 1
DJ Moore 3 67 33.33 2 54 27.0 18.0 50.0 1
Calvin Ridley 4 160 59.04 15 264 17.6 66.0 71.4 6
Courtland Sutton 4 193 72.01 8 142 17.8 35.5 40.0 0
Dante Pettis (I) 4 129 50.00 3 96 32.0 24.0 42.9 1
Christian Kirk 4 153 73.56 16 149 9.3 37.3 72.7 0
Anthony Miller (I) 3 112 41.33 8 60 7.5 20.0 72.7 1
DJ Chark 4 83 30.97 2 19 9.5 4.8 33.3 0
Michael Gallup 4 119 48.57 5 76 15.2 19.0 41.7 0

Synopsis of each listed wide receiver for the first quarter of the 2018 season:

James Washington only played 11 offensive snaps week 1. Since then he has played in over half the offensive snaps. He has caught a touchdown, but Ben Roethlisberger has not connected with him downfield yet. His longest reception is 14 yards.

DJ Moore played in three games due to Carolina Panther’s week 4 bye. Only two receptions but one was a 51-yard touchdown. He also has 4 punt returns and 1 kick return. Moore has played in over 60% of the Panthers special team snaps.

Calvin Ridley started slowly when he was targeted twice with no catches in Atlanta Falcons opening 12-18 loss to Philadelphia Eagles. Since then he has scored in every game. He has scored 6 touchdowns out of his 15 receptions. He also averaged 25 yards on his two kickoff returns.

Courtland Sutton averages 17.8 yards per reception. He had a 42-yard reception against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night. Sutton is not shy. On the Denver Broncos final play, he caught a first down and then tried to lateral to Emmanuel Sanders. The ball went to the ground behind the first down marker ending Denver’s opportunity to pull ahead of Kansas City.                           

Dante Pettis scored a touchdown with his 1st career catch. Unfortunately, Pettis hurt his knee on a punt return week 4. He may miss the San Francisco 49ers game in week 5.

Christian Kirk leads all the rookies with 16 receptions so far. He has not scored yet but does have a 44-yard punt return and his longest reception is 32 yards. He also has the highest percentage of targets caught among his peers at 72.7%.

Anthony Miller dislocated shoulder third game. He missed the Chicago Bears fourth game going into their bye week.

DJ Chark is only playing about a third of the Jacksonville Jaguar snaps. He is also playing about half of their special team snaps. He does not appear to be a big part of their offense yet with only two receptions.

Michael Gallup is still waiting for the Dallas Cowboys to unwind their passing attack. He does have a 37 yard catch but that is about it.


Rookie safety stats through Week 4 of the regular season (stats via Pro Football Reference):

Name G Snaps Snap% INTs PDs FF FR Sacks Tackle Assists
Terrell Edmunds 4 256 86.20 1 2 0 1 0 8 3
Minkah Fitzpatrick 4 241 82.82 1 3 0 0 0 11 18
Derwin James 4 251 98.43 1 6 0 0 3 20 6
Jessie Bates III 4 302 99.34 1 1 0 0 0 22 5
Justin Reid 4 148 51.75 0 2 0 0 0 12 2
Ronnie Harrison 4 70 28.11 0 0 0 0 0 8 1

Synopsis of each listed safety for the first quarter of the 2018 season:

Terrell Edmunds started three games in the first quarter of the season. He’s made some big plays. Edmunds intercepted a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass. Also, he recovered a fumble that Sean Davis stripped from a runner to prevent a Ravens score. However, he has not tackled many folks and is still learning his craft. He has played 58% of Steelers special team snaps.

Minkah Fitzpatrick started the last two Miami Dolphins games. He has a pick six and defended three passes. He is getting in on a lot of tackles. He has played 36 % of Dolphins special team snaps.

Derwin James can do it all. The BoltBeat says he will be best safety in NFL. So far, he is earning the hyperbole. He’s started all four games. He’s intercepted a ball, defensed six passes, recorded 3 sacks and is a tackling machine. As a starter, he plays less than 4% of Los Angeles Chargers special team snaps.

Jessie Bates III intercepted his first pass in the 2nd game. He has started all four games, intercepting a pass, and recorded 22 tackles. He plays about 6% of Cincinnati Bengals special team snaps.

Justin Reid missed a tackle in the 2nd game led to winning field goal. He plays 68% of Houston Texans special team snaps.

Ronnie Harrison started the first three Jaguars but has only played 28% of offensive snaps. He does play 44% of special team snaps. We will see if he gets increased playing time as the season progresses.


As an average Steelers fans, I don’t watch too many football games when the Black & Gold are not on the field. Which of these rookies are authentic gems?

Your Music Selection

In the 2018 Memorial Day Weekend: Steelers Friday Night Five Questions, I committed to play songs that Steelers Depot respondents suggested might be the new Steelers anthem if Renegade by Styx was ever replaced. Here is entry 24 of 45 from Sdale: Ace of Spades by Motörhead.

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