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NFL ROOKIES Progress Report – Week 13

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Even as key player injuries continue to plague the league, the positive news is that some previously inactive NFL rookies are now seeing playing time for multiple reasons including injury issues. So let’s get after a few of the newer faces to gain considerable playing time as we hit the home stretch of the NFL regular season. 

NFL ROOKIES Progress Report – Week 13

CAROLINA PANTHERS   

NASH JENSEN     #66      RG     6’4/325        North Dakota State       RFA       PP# NR   300+

The smaller college (FCS) schools from the northern midwest are beginning to look like a pipeline of players to the NFL, especially along the OL. Let’s not forget recent additions to the pro ranks including starters QUINN MEINERZ/UW/Whitewater, CORDELL VOLSON/N. D Dakota St, and CODY MAUCH/ N. Dakota State. JENSEN was identified as an NFL Camp competitor while MAUCH was being scouted as a season. The PANTHERS OL unit has been a mess this season, spawned by a lack of overall talent and a rash of injuries.

Vet journeyman AUSTIN CORBETT had been starting at RG until he was hurt and added to the Injured List. The next man up was JENSEN. He has a wide body, who to my eyes looks even bigger than his listed 325 lbs. And in his first start against the BUCS, he looked like a decent player with long-range potential for an NFL career. He holds his own, in a limited area, and can bury defenders on run plays between the Tackles. Jensen is questionable right now in pass-pro, but he stays upright on most snaps. He bears watching over the next month. 

CINCINNATI BENGALS 

CHASE BROWN    #30     RB        5’9/210          Illinois         Round 5, Pick 163    PP# 107

I think the Bengals got a heck of a bargain with BROWN coming all the way down to them at Pick 163. Even though I am not convinced that I have a special meter to measure “heart” in players the BROWN Twins strike me as big heart, big desire players. Injuries kept BROWN on the sidelines in Cincy until recently. Now he’s sharing touches with JOE MIXON and their productivity combined is exceeding what Mixon could do alone with a big workload every week.

CHASE may not be a speedster but he has burst and juice, not to mention toughness. Against the Jaguars on MNF, he carried 9 times for 61 yards, with a couple of breakout 10+yard runs included. He and MIXON combined for 129 rushing yards. With Mixon in his 7th year in the NFL splitting touches and grooming a quality new RB2 seems like a smart approach. Still not sure how BROWN looks in pass-pro, which is a critical element to staying on the field for any RB in the NFL. 

GREEN BAY PACKERS    

TUCKER KRAFT    #85     TE      6’5/258       South Dakota State       Round 3, Pick 78    PP# 58

KRAFT is my 3rd guy this week to come from those FCS Upper Midwest schools (see above). He is a natural blocker and is getting a lot of those reps that vet MARCEDES LEWIS was getting in Green Bay as their blocking TE in the running game. It was clear in Training Camp that KRAFT could handle blocking chores, and had potential as a receiver. 2nd Rounder Luke Musgrave is on the injured list and KRAFT has stepped up to start in his place. In the Pack’s big upset of the Chiefs Sunday night he blocked well and was used as a piece in the passing attack. He had 6 targets, and made 3 receptions, for 37 yards. MUSGRAVE & KRAFT are both 23 years old and look like TE1 & 2 for the immediate future in Green Bay. 

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS      

PARKER WASHINGTON   #11     WR     5’10/210      Penn State         Round 6, Pick 185   PP# 217

I remember watching WASHINGTON play in a half dozen games or so for the Nittany Lions in the last 2 seasons. He flashed at times but never looked like the best receiver in the Nittany Lions WR room. Built like a RB he has looked like a solid catch-and-run wideout or slot receiver. With KIRK leaving the game early with an injury this game became PARKER’S NFL coming-out party. And it was a successful outing indeed. He was targeted 6 times and caught all six throws. He ran some nice patterns and showed some RAC ability totaling 61 yards. And the cherry on top was a TD catch. If KIRK is laid up for a while WASHINGTON appears to be a decent replacement option. Now they can worry about LAWRENCE’s ankle injury more than KIRK’s absence. He looked comfortable and like he belonged playing with the big boys.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 

ZACH CHARBONNET    #26      RB     6’/215     UCLA          Round 2, Pick 52    PP# 45

I thought it was a solid decision when the Seahawks selected CHARBONNET in Round 2 last April.  He had a solid college career splitting time between Michigan, then UCLA. He looked to me like a solid running mate for last year’s RB selection, Kenneth Walker. Because of injuries to Walker this year, we haven’t seen them both healthy and available for games together.

With WALKER out again CHARBONNET cried the running load against the Cowboys. He didn’t dominate the game, but he helped to balance the run/pass split load in the close loss. He carried the ball 19 times for 60 yards and 1 TD. That’s a paltry 3.2 ypc, but he was effective overall. He was also targeted twice catching 1 ball and scooting for 39 yard TD catch and run. Charbonnet got dinged a couple of times but fought hard to stay in the game. He is turning into the solid-looking RB2. Through 12 games WALKER has 613 yards rushing and CHARBONNET now has 368. That totals to just a touch under 1,000 yards combined.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

This team cleaned house at the trading deadline last month dispatching both their starting DE/ER in SWEAT & YOUNG. Now the door is wide open and existing DEs in their roster are seeing playing time to determine how much outside help the team is going to need to pursue at those spots next off-season through the Draft & VFA. The new names, both Rookies, are guys whose progress (or lack thereof) you may want to be watching out for the remainder of the season.

K.J. HENRY     #55      ER/DE        6’4/255     Clemson         Round 5, Pick 137     PP# 133

Was always referred to as one of the most athletic players on the Clemson Defense, who though only a starter in 2022, saw plenty of snaps in their overall scheme. As a starter, he roved that he could set the edge in Run-D, as well as create pocket pressure. He showed some nice pursuit and pressure against Miami in a loss. Showed 4.65/40-speed in his ability to stand up and drop into coverage. Played 30 reps against the Dolphins, which was 49% of the defensive snap total, producing 2 Tackles, including 1 TFL. 

ANDRE JONES  #50    DE/ER       6’4/260     LA/LAFAYETTE      ROUND 7, Pick 233    PP# 264

Solid collegian providing some pass rush for the Ragin Cajuns jumping out of the pack with 7.5 Sacks last season. Showed enough as a senior to warrant a look-see selection in Round 7 by the Commanders.JONES had a solid Training Camp and sunspot action, which should accelerate with the YOUNG/SWEAT departures. He had 1 Tackle against the Dolphins playing 33 snaps, or 54% of the total defensive snaps. 

These are the 2 Rookies who will be among the DE candidates on the existing Washington roster fighting for future jobs. Their work in the remaining 3 games of this season will help determine how much emphasis will be needed this coming off-season to shore up the DE/ER group in Old D.C.

Watch for more mention of previously obscure Rookies in the coming weeks, especially on those teams already knocked out of Play-Off likelihood. I will effort to find a few more as we move forward.

Look elsewhere on this site early next week as Pigskin Paul’s Mock 3.0 is revealed. Some serious changes are in the works.

Cheers

Pigskin Paul

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