Rookie Watch: Hernandez emerging
I love what rookie TE Aaron Hernandez brings to the Patriots' passing game.
Hernandez led New England in receiving yards in its 28-14 loss to the Jets. His 101 yards on six catches were 63 yards more than Wes Welker, who was second.
Hernandez is a Dallas Clark-type threat from his tight end spot. He is a move player who is as much wide receiver as he is traditional tight end. He can line up on the line of scrimmage in the traditional tight end spot, but he is best detached from the formation or in motion.
He's a superb route runner for a rookie tight end and has soft, secure hands. He is also exceptional after the catch. Hernandez caught every pass thrown his way this past Sunday and has a catch of 45 yards or more in both games as a pro. Hernandez is exactly the type of player who succeeds in the NFL. He is the type of player who creates mismatches in his team's favor.
Although Hernandez hasn't quite done enough to crack the top 10, he is moving up very fast.
|Ranking||Player, position (draft position)||Last week|
|Ndamukong Suh, Lions DT (first round, No. 2)
The Lions allowed 35 points in their loss to Philadelphia, but Suh was a force. Shutting down Adrian Peterson this week will not be an easy chore.
|Jahvid Best, Lions RB (first round, No. 30)
Best was out of this world in the Lions' narrow defeat. He answered every question I asked last week in this column.
|Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers DT (first round, No. 3)
After watching more film, I realized I made a mistake by dropping McCoy in this column last week. He is fantastic, but was better in Week 1 than in Week 2.
|Mike Williams, Buccaneers WR (fourth round, No. 101)
Williams is going to score a lot of touchdowns in this league -- and Josh Freeman looks to him for big plays. Williams delivers. Week 3 will be a stiff test vs. Pittsburgh.
|Dez Bryant, Cowboys WR (first round, No. 24)
Bryant was spectacular on a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown in Week 2 and accumulated 52 yards on just two catches. He is a star in the making, and his big-play ability jumps off the screen. Now he needs to start helping the Cowboys win games.
|Sam Bradford, Rams QB (first round, No. 1)
Bradford and the Rams still don't know how to win this league, but he looks great at times. This is going to be a trend all year, but he has an extremely bright future.
|Ryan Mathews, Chargers RB (first round, No. 12)
Fumbling has become a problem for Mathews. Then he was carted off the field at the end of the first quarter against the Jaguars, but it sounds like he will be OK. Placing him on this list is now difficult to do, but he can't stay at No. 1. He will climb again.
|Demaryius Thomas, Broncos WR (first round, No. 22)
Thomas has a striking similarity to Brandon Marshall in Denver. Rookies have their ups and downs, but Thomas should be the lead dog in this passing game immediately.
|Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers C (first round, No. 18)
It wasn't pretty on offense for Pittsburgh in Week 2, but the Steelers are now 2-0. They are much better at center, but Pouncey wasn't great in Week 2.
|T.J. Ward, Browns S (second round, No. 38)
Ward always seems to be around the football. He is deserving of inclusion in the top 10 and is in a position to make a ton of plays.
MORE NFL HEADLINES
- RG III: Goal Week 1 but career comes first
- Cards ink 3rd-round pick Mathieu to contract
- Rodgers wants Pack to retire Favre's No. 4
- Pats' Brady not surprised Welker left team
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
NFL WEEK 3 PREVIEW