The rookies that came out of the 2019 NFL Draft showed out in ways that many didn’t expect them to, all across the board. Here is my 2019 NFL All-Rookie Team including offense, defense, and special team positions.
1. Gardner Minshew, Jacksonville Jaguars, QB
Some may argue with this pick considering there were many outstanding rookie quarterbacks, but Minshew is by far my pick. Minshew only started in 12 games, but he racked up 3,271 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, and had a 60.6% completion rate. Minshew was the first NFL quarterback to throw for at least 200 passing yards with a passer rating of 95.0 or higher in his first five career games as a starter. He was also one of only three starting quarterbacks in Jacksonville history to throw for 300+ yards in a single game in their rookie season. During that same game, Minshew threw for a career high 374 passing yards, the most by a rookie in Jaguars franchise history. That performance also put Minshew in the top 10 for yards in a single game in franchise history, not just those of a rookie. Minshew still has plenty of room for improvement, but showed a promising future that Jaguar fans can look forward to.
2. Josh Jacobs, Oakland Raiders, RB
Although Jacobs was eventually sidelined to a shoulder injury, the numbers he put up in just 13 games was outstanding. He rushed for 1,150 yards with seven touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and 88.5 yards per game. According to Pro Football Focus, Jacobs forced 69 missed tackles, which was first in the league, despite missing three games in the season. Since the 2006 season, only Marshawn Lynch has forced that many missed tackles. Jacobs is an outstanding talent because he is patient and can change his speed at any moment. This season, he had two games with 25+ carries with zero negative carries, and was the only back to do this in the last seven seasons, according to the Associated Press. Jacobs also broke the franchise rushing rookie record, which is impeccable considering he was forced to sit out three games in the season.
3. A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans, WR
A.J. Brown earned Pro Football Focus Offensive Rookie of the Year honor, and proved all prior concerns about his game wrong. Brown led all wide receivers this season with 8.9 yards after catch, and forced 16 broken tackles, which is tied for fourth for his position. During the regular season, Brown averaged 20.2 yards per reception, with 52 receptions on 84 targets, and 8 touchdowns. Brown was selected in the second round, 51st overall, and if nothing else, has proven to be an incredible steal for the Titans.
4. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers, WR
Samuel ranked second in yards after catch with 8.5, only trailing A.J. Brown, but it was 1.8 yards more than the next qualifier. Samuel showed immense promise and fits in very well with the 49ers offense, but was tied for second most in dropped catches with 10. Although this is true, he was the second leading pass catcher for the 49ers, only George Kittle has more. Samuel was an incredible talent at South Carolina, but according to CBS Sports he credits two of his coaches with molding him into the receiver that we saw this season.
5. D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks, WR
Metcalf might have had a quieter season than his teammate from Ole Miss, A.J. Brown, but still made a big difference in Seattle’s offense. Metcalf had 58 catches on 97 targets, for 900 yards and 7 receiving touchdowns. He averaged 15.5 yards per reception. Metcalf’s biggest game yet actually came in his first career playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He had 160 receiving yards, the most ever by a rookie in a playoff game. In that game he also had a 53-yard touchdown, and a 36-yard reception on the final drive of the game, securing a wild-card win for the Seahawks. All of this was exceptional considering that Metcalf suffered a cervical neck fracture in college and was told that he would never play football again.
6. Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings, TE
2019 was not the best draft class for tight ends, but Smith Jr. helped out the Vikings when they needed it. Smith Jr. had 36 receptions on 47 targets for 311 yards, averaging 8.6 yards per reception. He only had two touchdowns, but he was not the number one receiver for the Vikings. Out of his 36 receptions, he only had one dropped catch. Smith Jr. has big shoes to fill in Minnesota, but he makes a good case for his future.
7. Jawaan Taylor, Jacksonville Jaguars, OT
Taylor was thrown into the starting position at right tackle even though he was just a rookie, and he showed that he deserved to be there. He was the only rookie tackle to play 500+ snaps and have a pass-blocker rating of 60.0. Taylor allowed lower than a 6.0% pressure rate, and was just one of 20 tackles to do so. He also did not allow a sack after week 6. He was one of only two offensive tackles for the Jaguars to play every snap this season.
8. Tytus Howard, Houston Texans, OT
The offensive line for Houston stood out this season, after many expected them not to. Howard had a great rookie season other than his performance in week 1. He helped fill a major void at right tackle for Houston, until he was forced to be placed on IR after tearing his meniscus. He had a 63.4 grade at right tackle.
9. Elgton Jenkins, Green Bay Packers, OG
Jenkins had an outstanding first career season, especially when you factor in that he is blocking for Aaron Rodgers, who has one of the longest average times to throw. Jenkins did not allow a single sack in 571 pass-blocking snaps and earned the highest grade among any rookie guard in the league during the 2019 season.
10. Dalton Risner, Denver Broncos, OG
Risner did not play every snap for the Broncos this season, but he did start every game. Risner was a crucial part of the Broncos’ offensive line, and received a 63.5 overall grade for the 2019 season. He was penalized three times and only allowed 2.5 sacks.
11. Eric McCoy, New Orleans Saints, C
McCoy joined an already very strong offensive line for the Saints, but became a huge staple in protecting Brees. He received a 76.1 overall grade, which was the highest of all rookie centers. He ranked fourth among all centers in the NFL during the 2019 season. McCoy was also the only center to record both a pass-blocking rating and run-blocking rating above 75.0.
12. Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers, DE
Bosa came out of Ohio State University ready for action. He was one of the best edge defenders this season, and was named PFF Defensive Rookie of the Year, while making a very strong case to win AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. Bosa had 80 total pressures, which was 14 more than the previous rookie record set in 2006. Over the last 15 years, only 3 edge rushers have been selected for the award. Bosa set a rookie franchise record for the 49ers with 16 tackles for loss, while also tallying up 9.0 sacks. In week 8, when the 49ers played the Panthers, he recorded 3 sacks and an interception, the first time a rookie has done this since Kevin Williams in 2002 according to 49ers WebZone. Bosa will continue to be a huge threat in the NFL. We can only expect to see better numbers as his career continues.
13. Josh Allen, Jacksonville Jaguars, DE
Allen holds the highest pass-rushing grade of any rookie edge defender, outside of Bosa, at 70.2. He also comes in at second to Bosa in total pressures with 49, pressure rate with 13.7%, and a pass-rush win rate at 15.7%. Out of his 49 pressures, 26 were either sacks or quarterback hits. He is tied for eighth with that mark. Allen recorded 10 sacks, breaking a franchise and NFL record. He was the only rookie in franchise history to record double digit sacks in his first season. Allen is a very versatile player, and will only continue to get better and break more records as he matures on the field.
14. Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants, DI
Quite a few interior defensive lineman were taken in last years draft, but Lawrence was the only one to play 500 or more defensive snaps with an overall grade higher than 70.0. He recorded 38 tackles (24 solo), 2.5 sacks, one defended pass and one forced fumble. He was outstanding defending the run, but he has room for improvement against the pass. Lawrence had a 76.3 run-defense grade and ranked 21st among 117 qualifying interior defenders according to Pro Football Focus.
15. Shy Tuttle, New Orleans Saints, DI
Tuttle had a lot to prove after being signed by the Saints as an undrafted free agent. He played 347 defensive snaps across all 16 games and received a 73.0 overall grade. That placed him 30th out of 117 qualifiying interior defenders according to Pro Football Focus, and he proved that the Saints taking a chance on him was worthwhile. Tuttle recorded 18 tackles (8 solo), 2.0 sacks, and an interception. His career with the Saints is just beginning, and we can expect to see even more improvement out of him during the 2020 season.
16. Devin Bush, Pittsburgh Steelers, LB
Bush struggled at the beginning of the season, especially with pass coverage, but he picked up his performance very quickly. He appeared in all 16 games and played a majority of the defensive snaps. Bush became the first Steelers’ rookie with over 100 tackles in his inaugural season. He recorded 109 total tackles, with 72 solo and 37 assisted. Bush also recorded four fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and one sack. Bush helped push the Steelers’ defense into the place they needed to be, and will become even more important to the team as he matures.
17. Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers, LB
Greenlaw was one of the best linebackers in limiting receiving production, and helped secure the NFC West for the 49ers after making an incredible goal line stop against the Seahawks. Only three linebackers who were targeted 50 or more times had a lower passer rating than Greenlaw’s rating of 83.6. He recorded 85 total sacks, 57 solo and 28 assisted, with one sack and one interception. 49ers haven’t played in the playoffs yet, so only time will tell if we have even seen the best version of him yet.
18. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, New Orleans Saints, CB
Gardner-Johnson was a fourth-rounder but quickly became an important part of the Saints’ defense. He recorded 49 tackles, 38 solo and 11 assisted, with one interception and one forced fumble. Garner-Johnson started just seven games, three of those coming in the final weeks of the regular season. He played just over 80% of the snaps in those final games. He was a very versatile part of the defense, lining up in multiple different positions. Gardner-Johnson had a 29.6% forced incompletion rate on his slot targets, which was the best in the league.
19. Sean Murphy-Bunting, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, CB
Murphy-Bunting started in 10 games, recording 44 total tackles, 37 solo and 7 assisted, with one sack, three interceptions, and one forced fumble. One of his three interceptions resulted in a 70 yard touchdown. He was on the field for 686 snaps, which was 61% of total snaps for the Buccaneers in the 2019 season.
20. Juan Thornhill, Kansas City Chiefs, S
Thornhill was a crucial part of the Kansas City defense, starting in all 16 games. He recorded 57 tackles (41 solo and 16 assisted), with three interceptions, one of which was returned for a 46-yard touchdown. Most of his snap counts he was lined up deep at free safety. He made a huge difference on the long ball holding opposing quarterbacks to just a 40.9 passer rating, which was third best in the league. There is no doubt that his placement on IR will make an impact on the Chiefs playoff run, but hopefully in 2020 Thornhill will come back better than ever.
21. Darnell Savage, Green Bay Packers, S
Savage was destined for greatness as soon as he was drafted in the first round by the Packers. This makes him one of only two defensive secondary players in history to be selected in the first round (the other was DB Chad Scott, drafted to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1997). He started 14 games and recorded 52 tackles (39 solo and 13 assisted), two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two dropped interceptions. His grade in coverage was a 74.2 which ranked 24th of 94 qualifying safeties in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus. His impact will definitely be prominent in the postseason for the Packers, finally filling a void that had hurt them in prior seasons.
22. Chase McLaughlin, Indianapolis Colts, K
McLaughlin got the opportunity to start his season with the Chargers until Mike Badgley returned. He was picked up by the 49ers and then released after Robbie Gould returned to the team. McLaughlin then finally got his break when the Colts claimed him on waivers when Vinatieri was placed on IR. With all that taken into consideration, McLaughlin still put up great statistics, even though he knew his role was temporary for the Chargers and 49ers. He showed up to work and delivered when his number was called. In total, McLaughlin had a 100% accuracy rate on extra points and 78.3% (18-23) on field goals. He was accurate on 100% of field goals within 1-39 yards (10 attempts total), 5-10 from 40-49 yards, and 3-3 on 50+ yard field goal tries.
23. Jamie Gillan, Cleveland Browns, P
Gillan was an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas Pine Bluff, and had to fight for his role in Cleveland from the very start, where he beat out veteran Britton Colquitt in summer camp. Gillan, better known as the “Scottish Hammer” finished 10th in the league in gross average punting. He recorded 63 punts for 2,913 yards, or 46.2 yards per punt, with a long of a 71.0 yard punt. Gillan also pinned his opponents inside their own 20 six different times.
24. Mecole Hardman, Kansas City Chiefs, KR
Hardman made a name for himself with the Chiefs on special teams, showing way more promise than anyone expected. He returned 27 kickoffs for 704 yards, with an average of 26.1 yards per return. Hardman also had a return of 104 yards which resulted in a touchdown. He had 20 returns of 20+ yards, and had one return of 40+ yards, as referred to earlier. Although Hardman did outstanding as a kick returner, he struggled with protecting the ball, losing two fumbles on his returns.
25. Deonte Harris, New Orleans Saints, PR
Harris came out of college into the NFL draft and was passed over by all teams due to his size and his limited experience. He was then signed by the Saints, and the rest is history. Harris led the NFL in punt returns with 388 yards, was fifth in kick returns with 644 yards, and ranked in the top five in average per return for both punts and kicks. He also returned one punt for a touchdown this year against the Seahawks.