Adding the 17th game to the NFL season confused some about the timing of mid-season awards.
With an 18th week, many analysts say Week 9 is the end of the first half.
But others, like Pro Football Focus, are standing by the Week 8 time frame they’ve used in years past.
Highest-graded defensive rookies this season (min. 175 snaps):
1️⃣ Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB- 81.1
4️⃣ Greg Newsome II, CB- 71.8
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) November 3, 2021
Cleveland was one of 5 teams to place 2 players on PFF’s list.
But no NFL opponent has a pair rated as high as the Browns’ JOK (1) and Newsome (4).
There were 16 teams that failed to land a single rookie among PFF’s best.
Kevin Stefanski and Joe Woods planned to mix Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah into the defense slowly.
But the rookie made his presence felt right from the start.
It seemed every tackle was a big-time play, and he always looked like the fastest player on the field.
PFF credits JOK with 14 “stops” among his 29 tackles, and he has 4 passes defended, too.
#Browns LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a problem for opponents. Instincts, speed, shiftiness, sure-tackling… Inject this into my veins. This man is a heat seeking missile. JOK is your Defensive Rookie of the Year. #problem #heatseeker pic.twitter.com/WLyVGEoIQK
— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) October 9, 2021
“…quite easily the league’s best all-around rookie linebacker when healthy.”
In fact, PFF grades JOK higher than any rookie defender, not just among linebackers.
Owusu-Koramoah suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 6 and is not expected back for a few more weeks.
Greg Newsome II
Greg Newsome missed several games already as the injury bug runs rampant in Cleveland.
But in the 5 games he played, Newsome has avoided giving up big games to any wide receiver.
Quarterbacks tend to pick on rookie corners, but Newsome has been up to the challenge.
He not only owns 4 pass breakups, but he also averages a stingy 35 yards allowed per game.
what a damn tackle from the rookie Greg Newsome pic.twitter.com/SxqEqA7Fxl
— Christian D'Andrea probably does not own a brewery (@TrainIsland) October 31, 2021
And it is not like the Browns are shielding Newsome from opposing offenses.
He played over 90% of the snaps in 4 of his five full games played so far.
Newsome might face his biggest challenge from another of PFF’s top rookies this weekend.
Cincinnati’s Ja’marr Chase leads the league in 20+ yard receptions and broken tackles.
What About The Browns’ Other Rookies?
Third-round draft pick, Anthony Schwartz, is struggling to utilize his speed as an NFL receiving threat.
He needs to work on his point-of-catch adjustments if he is to improve on his 47% catch rate.
And he has yet to provide a deep threat or establish himself as a return man, either.
Demetric Felton could be Andrew Berry’s second consecutive sixth-round steal.
— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) September 19, 2021
But he is a running back who rarely runs and has not been used enough as a receiver to crack PFF’s top rookies.
Tackle James Hudson was pressed into service after several injuries.
But along with the rest of the rookie class, Hudson would receive an incomplete grade to date.
And that would be merciful since he struggled in a relief role so far.