I had a lot of fun doing the rookie rankings last year. I've always kept a close eye on first-year players just because I'm curious to see what happens after spending so many months (years, really) evaluating them at the college level. It's also a great reminder of how, particularly early in a career, fit and opportunity to play can far outweigh talent. You can be a stud, but if the guy in front of you is better, you wait. If he's hurt, maybe you're seeing 70 snaps. So now I find myself going through every game a couple of times late into Monday and Tuesday night with a close eye on rookies.
So we're clear here, I'll keep around last year's parameters. Remember, I've hit reset on these guys as far as future value -- this is all about production.
• It's not just the week. This is measure for all games, not just last Sunday.
• Total snap count matters. Staying on the field is a measure of value. Simple as that.
• Positional value matters. But overall performance and impact on the team matter more.
• Wins matter. Contributing to a winner means more than piling up reps on a bad team.
• Relative value matters. I ask: Would this player be a starter on most teams? (I think that hurts QBs some.)
With that said, let's dive in for the 2014 rookie class. I'll update these every two weeks. It's a small sample so far, so I imagine we'll see big changes.
1. Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo
I didn't like how much Buffalo gave up for the right to draft Watkins in a draft loaded with WR talent, but it's not like I was ever down on the player (as you can see). So far Watkins has been really good