Some of the top NFL rookies stood out during Week 2 of the schedule with multiple first-round picks proving that teams didn’t reach for them in the annual event.
Two top-five picks on the defensive end of the ball did their thing. Meanwhile, the first two wide receivers selected back in April put up career-best performances as their teams came away with big wins.
In what will be a weekly theme throughout the 2022 season, here’s a look at five NFL rookies who showed out the most during the second week of action.
Derek Stingley Jr., cornerback, Houston Texans
While the Texans have yet to win a game this season, they have been much more competitive. A lot of that has to do with the performance of their young defense, led by this rookie No. 3 pick. In Week 2 against Denver, Derek Stingley Jr. was targeted 10 times. He allowed six receptions for 87 yards. That doesn’t seem great until we realize the former LSU star had two big-time pass break ups, one that could have resulted in a touchdown from Russell Wilson.
Young cornerbacks are going to be targeted early and often. That’s what happens when NFL rookies are thrown out on an island by themselves. But Stingley’s ability to make big-time plays can’t go unnoticed here. It’s one of the reasons why Houston kept Sunday’s game against the Broncos close. He also recorded eight tackles in the narrow loss.
Garrett Wilson, wide receiver, New York Jets
The arrival of Garrett Wilson as a top receiving threat for New York is among the biggest storylines from this weekend. The Ohio State product caught 4-of-8 targets or 52 yards in his regular season debut against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. However, Wilson was on a completely different level in the Jets’ huge comeback win over Cleveland on Sunday. That included a game-winning 15-yard touchdown catch from Joe Flacco with 22 seconds remaining, capping a comeback that saw the Jets score two touchdowns in the final 82 seconds.
- Garrett Wilson stats (Week 2): 8 receptions 102 yards, 2 TD, 57% catch rate
Much like rookie cornerbacks, it is hard for first-year wide receivers to make huge impacts. Wilson has been given the chance and he’s running with it in more ways than one.
Tyler Smith, offensive tackle, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas was without its franchise quarterback and future Hall of Fame left tackle Sunday against the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals. No one in their right mind thought that this team would be able to hang with Cincinnati after its ugly Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
One of the NFL rookies with a bullseye on his chest, Tyler Smith is a primary reason Dallas pulled off a pretty amazing win in front of its home crowd. Protecting for veteran journeyman Cooper Rush, this first-round pick allowed just one pressure in 62 snaps. One pressure. This bodes well for Dallas moving forward, especially once Dak Prescott returns from injury next month.
Drake London, wide receiver, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta was unable to pull off what would have been an epic comeback against the defending champion Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. But we absolutely love the fight this young team displayed after blowing a multi-score fourth-quarter lead against the New Orleans Saints in the opener.
Primarily, Drake London’s coming out party was something to view. He caught 8-of-12 targets from Marcus Mariota for 86 yards and the former USC star’s first career touchdown. He also came up with one huge chunk play.
London looks every bit the part of a star young in his NFL career. Through two games, he’s caught 13-of-19 targets for 160 yards and a touchdown while hauling in 68% of his targets. Not too shabby for someone experts claimed to be a reach with the eighth pick in the draft.
Aidian Hutchinson, EDGE, Detroit Lions
A quiet debut Week 1 game turned into absolute dominance from Aidan Hutchinson on Sunday against the Washington Commanders. In fact, NFL rookies should not be able to dominate on this side of the ball so early in their careers. How good with the No. 2 pick from Michigan? He recorded three first-half sacks of Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz while making grown men blocking the signal caller look like little boys.
Hutchinson finished Week 2 with six tackles (two for loss), three QB hits and three sacks. It reminded us of what the likes of Nick Bosa and Chase Young did as rookies in recent seasons. This bodes well for a Lions team that is looking much better in Dan Campbell’s second season than what we saw back in 2021.