From left: Jacksonville QB Gardner Minshew, San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa and Washington receiver Terry McLaurin. USA TODAY Sports: Douglas DeFelice | Stan Szeto | James Lang

Yardbarker's NFL mid-season All-Rookie team

Former NFL scout Matt Williamson writes a weekly column about the league from an X's and O's perspective. 


Here are the rookies who have played best at each position. Compared with recent rookie classes, the 2019 class is underwhelming.  (Go here for Yardbarker's mid-season All-Pro team.)

OFFENSE

QB: Gardner Minshew, Jaguars | Rd. 6 (Washington State)

One of the best stories of the season, Minshew (1,976 yards passing, 13 TDs, 2 picks) has played better than any of the more highly regarded rookie quarterbacks. He’s an accurate passer (61.9 % completion percentage) with great patience and poise. He's also surprisingly good at extending plays.

RB: Josh Jacobs, Raiders | Rd. 1 (Alabama)

He soon will be considered one of the best running backs in football. Naturally gifted. Just wait until he reaches his potential in the passing game.

RB: David Montgomery, Bears | Rd. 3 (Iowa State)

Outside of Jacobs, the rookie running backs are disappointing. This choice was a coin flip between Montgomery and Philadelphia’s Miles Sanders. Both are starting to hit their stride, but Montgomery gets the nod because he was excellent in Chicago’s narrow loss to the Chargers in Week 8 (135 yards rushing).

WR: Terry McLaurin, Redskins | Rd. 3 (Ohio State)

McLaurin has dropped a few passes, but he is one of the best deep threats in the league (28 catches, 458 yards). He has boosted one of the Redskins' worst position groups. Perhaps his familiarity with Dwayne Haskins, McLaurin's college teammate, will pay off for the rookie quarterback’s development.

WR: DK Metcalf, Seahawks | Rd. 2 (Mississippi)

A  physical freak, Metcalf has acclimated well to the NFL (23 catches for 402 yards). Of course he can get deep downfield, but he has also quickly become Russell Wilson’s favorite target in the red zone.

TIGHT END: TJ Hockenson, Lions | Rd. 1 (Iowa)

He is inconsistent (19 catches for 240 yards), but head coach Matt Patricia, a former Patriots defensive coordinator, must see some Rob Gronkowski in this young man. The Lions use him like Gronk. An immense talent.

TACKLE: Justin Skule, 49ers | Rd. 6 (Vanderbilt)

With Mike McGlinchey and Joe Staley entrenched as starting tackles, there is no way San Francisco envisioned Skule as a starter. But with McGlinchey and Staley hurt, the 183rd player drafted has filled in nicely.

TACKLE: Jawaan Taylor, Jaguars | Rd. 2 (Florida)

Finding a worthy second tackle was difficult because there's not much to choose from. The first tackle off the draft board, Jonah Williams of Alabama, is injured and won’t play this season. Taylor is inconsistent but has shown flashes of talent.

GUARD: Dalton Risner, Broncos | Rd. 2 (Kansas State)

The Broncos have struggled offensively, but Risner is a bright spot. He has the look of a longtime fixture.

GUARD: Elgton Jenkins, Packers | Rd. 2 (Mississippi State)

He's steady in the run and pass game, something you rarely see from rookie offensive linemen. He was especially dominant in Week 8 against the Chiefs. 

CENTER: Erik McCoy, Saints | Rd. 2 (Texas A&M)

McCoy gets beat here and there, but he has played well in the run and pass game. New Orleans values interior offensive linemen perhaps more than any other franchise. 


Steelers linebacker Devin Bush, a first-round pick from Michigan. Pittsburgh moved up in the draft to select him with the 10th overall pick. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

DEFENSE

TACKLE: Dexter Lawrence, Giants | Rd. 1 (Clemson)

Many looked at Lawrence as just a traditional run-stuffing nose tackle. While he can certainly eat up space in the middle, he brings much more to the table. He's an improving pass-rusher. I'm eager to see him lined up next to the newly acquired Leonard Williams, the former Jet.

TACKLE: Jeffery Simmons, Titans | Rd. 1 (Mississippi State)

He has only played in two games, but Simmons is spectacular since returning from injury. He could have been a top-five pick instead of the 22nd pick. 

EDGE: Nick Bosa, 49ers | Rd. 1 (Ohio State)

What a show he put on in Week 8 against Carolina -- the interception of Kyle Allen was something to behold. He has dominated since Day 1. Along with his brother Joey of the Chargers, he's one of the best at the position. 

EDGE: Brian Burns, Panthers | Rd. 1 (Florida State)

It is a shame to leave off Jacksonville's Josh Allen, but Burns (4.5 sacks, one forced fumble) is impossible to ignore. The Panthers have one of the best pass-rushing units. Burns is a big reason why.

LB: Devin Bush, Steelers | Rd. 1 (Michigan)

He struggled early in the season against the excellent offenses of the Patriots, 49ers and Seahawks. But this guy flies around the field. He's short (5-foot-11) but plays big. He already has two interceptions and four fumble recoveries.

LB: Bobby Okereke, Colts | Rd. 3 (Stanford)

Outside of Bush, the rookie linebackers haven’t been stellar. But Okereke fits the Colts' zone-heavy scheme really well. He is a strong tackler. 

SAFETY: Darnell Savage, Packers | Rd. 1 (Maryland)

The versatile and explosive Savage (appropriate name) is all over the field for the Packers. A game-changer already.

SAFETY: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Saints | Rd. 4 (Florida)

It shocked many that Gardner-Johnson lasted until the 105th pick. He's a huge reason why the Saints' defense is sixth best in yards allowed per game (316.5).

CORNERBACK: Byron Murphy, Cardinals | Rd. 2 (Washington)

Murphy was Arizona’s best cornerback while Patrick Peterson was out serving a PED suspension. Paired with Peterson, he gives the Cardinals an excellent 1-2 punch at corner. A work in progress at press coverage, but he's a sure tackler.

CORNERBACK: Greedy Williams, Browns | Rd. 2 (LSU)

Cleveland sure missed Williams while he was out with an injury. He's best at man coverage. 

NICKEL: Khari Willis, Colts | Rd. 4 (Michigan State)

I picked five defensive backs and just two second-level defenders. Willis was narrowly edged out at safety by Gardner-Johnson. He's not a big name, but he has played well for an improving Indianapolis defense. 

Matt Williamson is a former director of football operations at the University of Akron and ex-scout for the Cleveland Browns. After his time in the NFL, he was a football analyst for ESPN for 10 years. He is host of the "Locked On NFL Podcast." This season marks his 19th full-time season in the football business.

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