NFL rookies at skill positions dominated the landscape for first-year players during Week 12 of the regular season.
Multiple wide receivers did their thing in showing why they were early-round picks this past April. That includes a certain pass-catcher in Green Bay who simply can’t stop scoring touchdowns.
Meanwhile, a feel-good story out of D.C. got that much better when Brian Robinson put up his first career 100-yard rushing performance for the Washington Commanders. These are among the five NFL rookies who put up the best performances in Week 12.
Rachaad White, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
White continued with his RB1 duties in Sunday’s ugly loss to the Cleveland Browns. Veteran Leonard Fournette found himself sidelined to injury, at which point there was no turning back from this third-round selection out of Arizona State.
While White tallied a mere 64 yards on the ground, he did average a robust 4.6 yards per rush. The youngster also added 45 receiving yards while catching all nine of his targets from Tom Brady.
In what was another flop from the Buccaneers as they moved to 5-6 on the season, White gained 109 yards on 23 touches to bring his two-game tally to 215 total yards. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like Fournette will earn the starting gig once he returns from injury. Whether that’s enough to save Tampa Bay’s season remains to be seen.
Brian Robinson, running back, Washington Commanders
One can easily conclude that Robinson is a primary reason his Commanders head into Week 13 in playoff positioning. It took the former Alabama star some time to get rolling after missing substantial action to open his rookie season due to a scary off-field incident. But things are looking up big time here.
Robinson put up a career-best 105 yards on 18 rush attempts in Sunday’s narrow win over the Atlanta Falcons. That included a scamper of 21 yards, providing quarterback Taylor Heinicke with the necessary balance to do just enough for the win and move to 7-5.
Over the course of his past three outings, Robinson has tallied 248 rushing yards at a clip of 4.2 yards per tote while scoring two touchdowns. If he’s able to compete at this level moving forward, it could very well lead to a Washington playoff appearance.
Treylon Burks, wide receiver, Tennessee Titans
For the second consecutive week, Burks looked like one of the better NFL rookies on the field despite his Titans falling to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The first-round pick caught 4-of-7 targets for 70 yards. That included an eye-opening 51-yard catch from Ryan Tannehill to help tie the game up at 13 late in the third quarter.
It took some time for Burks to understand the speed and nuances of the NFL game as a rookie. But once he did, the former Arkansas star has looked very much the part. Over the past two games, Burks has caught 11-of-14 targets for 181 yards. This will only bode well for Tennessee as the team looks to lock down the AFC South title moving forward on the regular season.
Christian Watson, wide receiver, Green Bay Packers
This second-round pick from North Dakota State just can’t stop catching touchdown passes. If it’s not Aaron Rodgers, then Jordan Love is tossing the small-school product touchdowns. That included Watson going the distance on a 63-yard score in Sunday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with Love doing the passing.
All said, Watson caught 4-of-6 targets for 100 yards and that touchdown in a 40-33 defeat at the hands of Philadelphia. Simply put, Watson has been among the best NFL rookies over the past three weeks. During that span, he’s caught 12 passes for 265 yards and six touchdowns. That’s all sorts of absurd. It also makes Watson one of the few bright spots for an otherwise bad Packers team.
Garrett Wilson, wide receiver, New York Jets
What a difference a week makes. After the Jets’ offense put up a brutal performance with Zach Wilson tossing the rock in Week 11, Mike White turned things around during a blowout win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The veteran journeyman completed 22-of-28 passes for 315 yards. His primary target was one of the best NFL rookies to date on the season.
Garrett Wilson caught five passes for 95 yards, including two touchdowns in the 31-10 win. His 51-yard score late in the second quarter gave New York a 14-10 lead as the team didn’t look back.
More than anything, Wilson has been a victim of the Jets’ consistency issues at quarterback. Even then, he heads into Week 13 on pace for 76 receptions and nearly 1,000 yards. New York couldn’t ask for more from the former Ohio State standout.