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Rookie Report Card: Week Fifteen

In my weekly column, we take a long look at two more rookies.  I will compare their performance to date against my original expectations of them.  Let’s continue this series off by looking back at Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Marvin Jones, and Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce after their Week Fourteen Games:

Marvin Jones, WR CIN

My original thoughts of the wide receiver during his time in college:  I was originally impressed with him during his bowl game.  He caught eight passes for 88 yards in the Holiday Bowl against Texas.  The young wide receiver followed that up with a solid performance in the Senior Bowl.  Jones was never the true number one receiving threat for the California Bears thanks to Keenan Allen, who just might make rumblings of his own for an NFL team in 2013.

Jones is an extremely talented receiver as he is fantastic at creating separation between himself and opposing corner backs.  He seems to always take the correct angles to cause his defensive coverage to mis-judge his intentions.  The former Cal Bear runs the best routes of his class and it does not matter if it’s a short, intermediate, or deep pattern.  He has mastered them all and would put Vincent Brown, the 2011 class best route runner, to shame.  Making adjustments to the ball in the air, coming down with the difficult catch, or lulling his coverage to sleep are all skills he possesses.

The young receiver is good at making people miss and demonstrates good downfield vision.  One of the things to love about him is that he is willing and able to play any receiver position: on the line, in the slot, out of the backfield, etc.  He is a decent blocker in the run game and is a lunch pail guy who is willing to do whatever is needed for his team.  Jones is not without blemish as he sometimes has issues securing the ball, and does not have amazing balance.  This receiver can have lapses of concentration when not being featured and is not a physical receiver. The Bengals selected Mohammed Sanu before him in the NFL Draft; however Sanu is more of a possession wide receiver and the better run blocker.  The contrast is that Jones is the more dynamic playmaker.

Here is what I saw from Jones against the Eagles: His stat line against the Eagles was not very impressive: zero catches on four targets, although he carried the ball on a ten yard reverse play.  On that running play, he looked very quick/agile and simply ran out of real estate.  For the majority of the night, it appeared that he was Andy Dalton’s second read after A.J. Green.  Of his four targets, two of them were notable.  He was thrown to 40 yards down the field, but was double covered as the ball sailed three yards over his head.  Jones also got the ball knocked out of his hands by Nnamdi Asomugha: however, if the all-pro cornerback would have missed, the play could have resulted in a big gain.

Jones excited his dynasty owners the week before against the Cowboys.  In that game, he caught three passes out of his four targets for 45 yards and added another 37 rushing yards on a well executed reverse.  The young receiver had a certain touchdown called back and was targeted another time in the end zone.  His 2012 production won’t overwhelm you: eight catches for 91 yards on 17 targets and two reverses for 47 yards.  It doesn’t seem like Andrew Hawkins will have any bearing on his playing time as Hawkins is strictly a slot receiver.  I like Jones over Sanu because he is a more versatile receiver.  If you can get him as a WR6 on your dynasty team, be excited.  He will still have good value in 2013 start-up drafts as second and third year players that haven’t peaked yet tend to fall.

Bernard Pierce, RB BAL

My initial thoughts of the running back during his time in college:  The former Temple running back was a straight-ahead no-nonsense type of runner.  Pierce showed good strength/power to break some tackles and enough balance to keep his legs churning to fight for yardage.  While he isn’t the fastest back in his class, he did most of his damage by making would-be tacklers miss and could get to full speed in two steps.  The young running back was basically injury-free in college and did not have any fumbling issues which is very important to most NFL teams.

The former Owl is not especially fast for a running back and does not have good downfield vision like many other running backs in his class.  Pierce did not display a real aptitude in pass game whatsoever.  He is a limited pass protector and struggles at times to make catches.  I’m not sure how any NFL team will be able to use him as he will tip-off defenses that his team is planning on running the ball.  I’m not sure if he will ever be more than a change of pace back to use on first and second downs.

Here is what I saw from Pierce against the Broncos: According to the game plan, he should have played every third series to keep Ray Rice fresh.  This did not happen as Pierce suffered a head injury in the first half and was not on the field for the majority of the contest.  Despite his limited experience in the pass game in general, Pierce has become a better pass blocker than Rice.  He has six receptions for 43 yards on six targets for the year; however, he was not targeted in this game.

The young running back had five carries for 20 yards on the day before leaving with the previously acknowledged injury.  He is very dependant on his offensive line.  His first carry was a sweep in which he was caught from behind for a loss.  The defense strung the play out as he had no crease to expose.  He was bottled up on a dive between the center and the right guard for no gain.  On his last two carries, Pierce showed more power, picked up his feet, and used his vision to gain over 16 yards.

As the Ravens fell behind the Broncos,  I’m not sure if the rookie would have received a significant amount of carries regardless of his injury.  The new offensive coordinator was determined to keep Rice a major cog in the offense.  If Rice became sidelined, Pierce would get the lion’s share of touches.  I’m not convinced that he could produce more than 80% of Rice’s regular production.  On 72 rushing attempts, he has 320 yards and a touchdown.  He is a decent handcuff, but not much more than that.  I consider him a dynasty RB5-6 at best.

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Chris Howat
9 years ago

I traded away the pick that would of been RG3 for a group of later first and second rounders. These articles are very helpful and give me some hope that the trade will one day pay off.

Todd Ransom
9 years ago

Nice read on Marvin Jones, I agree on all counts. I saw him vs the Cowboys and the route running stuck out to me, as he does seem way more dynamic then Sanu. I just hope there are enough mouths to feed beyond AJG, but I believe in the talent Jones has.

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