The Greatest NFL Rookie Performances of Week 4

A quick glance at the top NFL rookie performances from Week 4.

Posted on

Week 4 of the 2017 NFL season is in the books, and what a week it was. The layers of the onion continue to peel away, and we’re starting to get a better idea of which teams are contenders and which are pretenders. That’s not why we’re here today, though.

Instead, we’re here to look at some of the greatest rookie performances from Week 4. There were a number of first-year players who truly made their mark on this past round of gridiron action. This list looks to highlight those youngsters, ensuring that they get the credit they deserve for their efforts.

QB DeShaun Watson, Houston Texans
Source:Getty Images

It’s officially time to believe the hype surrounding Deshaun Watson. The Houston Texans‘ starting quarterback put the Tennessee Titans‘ defense to shame in Week 4, amassing five touchdowns on the game while displaying impressive efficiency as a passer. Although there are still some kinks to work out, Watson looks like the real deal and a first-round pick well spent for Houston.

RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
Source:Getty Images

Another day, and another stellar performance for the 2017 No. 4 overall selection. The Jacksonville Jaguars‘ featured back did plenty of work against the New York Jets‘ defense, picking up 114 total yards of offense while striking paydirt as a receiver. Although his numbers weren’t spectacular, Leonard Fournette wore down the defense, punished tacklers and worked for every yard he tallied. The future is bright for the Jaguars’ young runner.

CB Tre'Davious White, Buffalo Bills
Source:Getty Images

There may not be a better defensive rookie in the league right now than Tre’Davious White. It makes it all the more surprising when you consider that many in the draft community saw him as a limited prospect prior to April’s draft. Well he’s quickly quieting critics with his outstanding play at cornerback, playing a huge part in the Buffalo Bills‘ elite pass defense through the first few weeks.

WR Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
Source:Getty Images

Jared Goff has undergone a massive transformation this year. While there are a number of reasons you could try to chalk it up to, I believe an improved receiving corps has been key to his emergence as a quality NFL quarterback. One of his most reliable targets has been Cooper Kupp, who went off on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Hauling in five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, Kupp figures to see his role increase as the season rolls along.

RB Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Source:Getty Images

Before Alvin Kamara even landed with the New Orleans Saints, the team had already secured its backfield. The talents of Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson made it seem as though they were set. Instead, they drafted Alvin Kamara in the third round and it’s turned out to be a terrific decision. On Sunday, he showed off his hands in London with 10 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Kamara also added 25 yards on the ground to help the Saints secure the win.

OLB Kendell Beckwith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Source:Getty Images

One of the big surprises of the 2017 season (at least as rookies go), Kendell Beckwith has been a revelation for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. After earning the starting job straight out of camp, the third-round pick has played exceptionally well through three games. His best yet came on Sunday, as he tallied nine tackles and helped the Buccaneers get the “W” against the New York Giants.

RB Elijah McGuire, New York Jets
Source:Getty Images

Not too familiar with the name? Don’t worry, most aren’t at this point. Elijah McGuire was the Jets’ sixth-round pick out of UL-Lafayette this past April. With players like Matt Forte and Bilal Powell ahead of him on the depth chart, the rookie wasn’t expected to make much noise in 2017. In Week 4, that all changed. In only 10 carries, he racked up 93 yards and a touchdown for New York. My guess is he sees more touches moving forward.

CB Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints
Source:Getty Images

I’ll be honest — Marshon Lattimore wasn’t perfect in Week 4. He gave up four catches on four targets, failing to keep the ball away from his receiver every time a quarterback threw into his coverage. However, he made a couple of key plays, including a timely forced fumble. His tough, tenacious play and fearlessness when dropping back have helped him shine so far this season. That should continue to be the case as it was against the Miami Dolphins.

DT Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants
Source:Getty Images

I don’t think many folks expected Dalvin Tomlinson to step in and steal the starting job as a rookie. Well as you can probably guess, he did exactly that, carving out a role for himself among one of the NFL’s top defensive lines. Since then, he’s been one of the league’s most effective interior pass rushers. We saw more of the same in Week 4, when he routinely put pressure on Jameis Winston and made life difficult for the Tampa Bay offense.

RB Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
Source:Getty Images

The Kareem Hunt show continues for the Kansas City Chiefs, a team that probably can’t believe the ridiculous steal they got in the third-round rookie. He’s off to a historic start to his inaugural season in the NFL, and kept the party going in Week 4 against the Washington Redskins. Although he didn’t have any big touchdown runs, he racked up over 100 yards on the ground, refusing to go down and taking pressure off of Alex Smith in the hard-fought win.

CB Nate Hairston, Indianapolis Colts
Source:Getty Images

One of my top sleeper cornerbacks of the 2017 draft class, Nate Hairston has already made his presence felt for the Indianapolis Colts. Although his team got walloped by the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4, the young cover man had a couple of key plays. The biggest, though, was a sack on Russell Wilson that resulted in a safety. Hairston continues to shine for the Colts, earning himself significant playing time along the way.

DE Charles Harris, Miami Dolphins
Source:Getty Images

Although it didn’t help his team in the long run, Charles Harris had a standout performance against the Saints this past weekend. There were no sacks involved, but the rookie defensive end consistently found ways into the backfield, helping the Dolphins to keep Drew Brees relatively under wraps. The future looks bright for the former Missouri standout.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Source:Getty Images

The outlook wasn’t too bright for JuJu Smith-Schuster heading into his rookie season. It wasn’t because of his talent — he’s got plenty of it. Instead, it was the amount of proven playmakers ahead of him on the depth chart. Despite playing behind Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, the former USC star hasn’t gone unnoticed. That was especially true in Week 4, when he hauled in three passes for 47 yards and his second career touchdown.

DE Solomon Thomas, San Francisco 49ers
Source:Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers knew they were getting a good one when they drafted Solomon Thomas at No. 3 overall. The explosive defensive lineman has shined through the early part of his rookie campaign, but hadn’t quite had that standout performance. That was, until Week 4 when he dominated the Arizona Cardinals offensive line. Five tackles and one sack later, and it’s looking like more excitement is on the horizon for Thomas.

OT Dion Dawkins, Buffalo Bills
Source:Getty Images

In today’s NFL, it’s not always easy for offensive linemen to stand out. However, in the case of rookie Dion Dawkins, that’s exactly what happened on Sunday. While the Bills were busy removing the Atlanta Falcons from the ranks of the undefeated, Dawkins was doing a terrific job keeping the opponent’s bevy of pass rushers in check. His efforts kept Tyrod Taylor relatively clean, allowing Buffalo to walk away with the win.

FS Malik Hooker, Indianapolis Colts
Source:Getty Images

It’s not everyday we see a rookie leading the league in interceptions. Following another pick in Week 4, that’s the exact scenario we’ve seen unfold for rookie safety Malik Hooker. The 2017 first-round pick has been outstanding for the Colts through four games, showing off the excellent coverage skills that got him drafted at No. 15 overall in the first place. He also added three tackles and a pass deflection against the Seahawks to round out his evening.

RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Source:Getty Images

By his standards, this was an off game for Carolina PanthersChristian McCaffrey. The electric runner/receiver managed only 49 yards on 10 touches, again failing to find the end zone for the first time in the NFL. Still, it was his presence on the field that made such a huge impact for the Panthers. He routinely acted as a decoy, allowing other receivers to get open. In the end, he played a subtle-but-significant role in the Panthers’ upset win in Week 4.

TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Source:Getty Images

When the Buccaneers spent their 2017 first-round pick on O.J. Howard, most assumed he’d make an instant impact for their passing game. While that hasn’t quite been the case with Cameron Brate also demanding targets, Howard finally flashed his immense potential in Week 4. With only two catches, he racked up 63 yards and took his first trip to the end zone.

K Jake Elliott, Philadelphia Eagles
Source:Getty Images

It’s not often rookie kickers warrant much recognition. However, in the case of Philadelphia EaglesJake Elliott, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to put his name out there. After nailing a clutch 61-yard field goal the week before, Elliott again delivered for the Eagles in Week 4. The young leg connected on all four of his field goal attempts (long of 53), both of extra point attempts, and got touchbacks on all seven of his kickoffs.

FS John Johnson, Los Angeles Rams
Source:Getty Images

It’s been a slow start for John Johnson‘s rookie season. After struggling to earn snaps through the first few games, though, he finally got into the action in Week 4 against the Cowboys. The best part is that he didn’t disappoint, racking up four tackles while shining as both a run and pass defender. As the season progresses, look for the Los Angeles Rams‘ third-round pick to force his way into a larger role.