Each week throughout the season, I’ll cover at least two rookies in the Rookie Report Card and try to always include the biggest performers from that particular week. On top of reviewing my expectations for each player coming into the league and covering how he’s performed at the NFL level to this point, I’ll actually give him a grade in three categories. Those categories are performance to date, 2017 potential and long term upside.
The series continues with a look at Chris Carson and Gerald Everett.
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Chris Carson, RB SEA
Week Two Stats: 20 carries, 93 rushing yards (4.7 YPC), one reception, seven receiving yards (two targets)
Coming out of Oklahoma State, Carson was known as a bowling ball tailback built for work between the tackles. With ideal size (6’-0”, 218 pounds), good vision to find running lanes and excellent ball security, he showed potential to become a contributor as a downhill runner with upside as a short yardage and goal line tailback.
Despite that upside however, when I watched Carson in college I couldn’t help but think he lacked the suddenness and burst to be more than a part-time player on Sundays. Showing below-average acceleration and rarely displaying the ability to shake defenders in the open field or pull away from them when he got to the second or third level, his upside certainly appeared to be capped.
Due to those limitations, Carson wasn’t even on my draft board even after being selected by the Seahawks in the seventh round of the NFL draft.
Through two weeks in the regular season, it appears that may have been a mistake.
After handling six carries for 39 yards (6.5 YPC), catching a ten-yard pass and surpassing Eddie Lacy on the depth chart in week one against the Packers, Carson appeared to do the same to Thomas Rawls in week two when he carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards and hauled in a seven-yard pass while working as the primary tailback for Seattle in the second half against the 49ers.
Carson ran hard in week two. Decisive and powerful, he put the team on his back late in the game. Quick to make up his mind, he hit rushing lanes with authority, always lowered his shoulder at the point of contact and continuously fell forward for extra yardage.
All of that said, Carson once again wasn’t overly explosive against San Francisco. With a long run of 16 yards, he appeared to leave yards on the field regularly. While watching the game, I continuously thought to myself that had the 49ers’ running back Carlos Hyde got the same carry, he would have made somebody miss or carried a tackler for more yardage. Side by side in the same game, it was abundantly clear that Hyde is easily the superior tailback and that Carson is far from being in the same class as the former Buckeye.
At this point, it appears that the Seahawks’ coaching staff is confident in Carson and willing to make him their featured runner but with Rawls, Lacy and pass-catching specialist C.J. Prosise still in place, there’s no guarantee they will or that dynasty owners will be able to count on the rookie.
Considering the state of the Seattle offensive line, the Seahawks’ pass first offense, their depth chart at the position and Carson’s limitations including his lack of explosiveness and inability to be depended on in the passing game both as a receiver and as a blocker, dynasty owners should continue to have a cautious approach when considering Carson in the short-term. Although he has the potential to put up RB2 numbers if leaned on like he was in week two, he also has a very low floor that could rear its ugly head at any point.
Certainly worth flex consideration against inferior defenses – like in week four against the Colts – Carson is a guy worth having on your roster and at times in your lineup, but I’m not rushing out to add him via trade. In fact, if somebody else is sold on his upside after week two and willing to give something of note for him, I’d be ready to sell.
Gerald Everett, TE LAR
Week Two Stats: three receptions, 95 receiving yards (three targets)
One of my favorite third-round targets in rookie drafts this summer, Everett popped off the screen when watching him play at South Alabama. At 6’-3” and 239 pounds, he was a man among boys in his two years as a Jaguar. Piling up 90 catches for 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns over that time, he showed incredible upside both as a pass catcher and a blocker.
Blessed with great explosion (126” broad jump, 6.99 second three-cone drill) and impressive leaping ability (37.5 vertical jump), Everett reminds me of former Iowa Hawkeye Dallas Clark due to his athleticism as a route runner and after the catch and physicality as an in-line blocker.
Everett excelled in college primarily due to his acceleration off the line of scrimmage. Quick into his route, he was far too fast for any linebacker in the Sun Belt Conference and too big and powerful for any safety. Doing a lot of his damage down the middle of the field, he primarily ran crosses and seam routes in college and was dynamic after the catch. Breaking tackles with ease, his power allowed him to run through arm tackles and speed helped him pull away from many defenders.
A two-time All-Sun Belt tight end, Everett was one of the premiere tight end prospects in the 2017 NFL draft when he was picked by the Rams with the 44th pick.
Everett looked good in the preseason, catching eight passes for 48 yards including an impressive 24-yard catch-and-run while playing with the starters against the Raiders in week two where he made a linebacker look silly after the catch on a cutback.
That playmaking ability has continued into the regular season.
In week one against the Colts Everett lined up flexed to the left, fought off the jamb by Jon Bostic and quickly got a step on the overmatched linebacker. Quarterback Jared Goff’s throw was a bit off target but Everett dove to make the catch and got up to run for more yardage. It was Everett’s only catch of the game but it was big one as it went for 39-yards.
Last week brought much of the same for Everett. Lined up tight to the left, he ran a simple drag route that he turned up the right sideline. Goff’s throw caught him in stride over the shoulder and he raced to a 69-yard gain. Surprisingly, he was caught from behind inside the ten-yard line by linebacker Zach Brown. The rookie added a couple more catches to finish with three grabs for 95-yards on the day.
Interestingly, Everett has played just 39% (45 of 115) of the Rams’ offensive snaps so far in 2017. Meanwhile, fellow tight end Tyler Higbee has been on the field for 82% (94 of 115) of Los Angeles’ plays. Despite that however, Higbee has just two catches for 17 yards as compared to Everett’s four caches for 134 yards.
It’s apparent that the Rams see Everett as a weapon but aren’t comfortable using him as a full-time player just yet. That will come.
Dynasty owners should remain patient but continue to expect big things from the rookie tight end. He profiles as a big play threat with big red-zone upside. Although that potential may not be realized fully in 2017, his TE1 upside makes him one of the top developmental tight ends in dynasty.
Find Dan on Twitter at @dmeylor22
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