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Chalk Talk Rookie Report: Top plays from Bengals rookie class through 8 games

In a special edition of the rookie report, Matt Minich and John Sheeran go to the film to see how each Bengals rookie has been playing so far this season.

For the first time in a long time, the Cincinnati Bengals have a legitimate candidate for Rookie of the Year.

Joe Burrow has been the undisputed star of the Bengals and their rookie class through the first half of the 2020 season. He’s exceeded nearly every expectation that’s been given to him and his growth has been evident as each week passes. That growth has been the main reason why he’s surpassed the bar that we set for him back in the Summer.

This past offseason, we took a deep dive into which quarterback metrics matter and how rookies typically stacked up in recent history. More times than not, true first-year passers end up in the bottom half in the league-wide rankings of both PFF offense grades and the composite score of their Expected Points Added/Play and Completion Percentage Over Expectation. We labeled that second metric as ECC.

Burrow’s ECC score (0.134) and PFF grade (77.2) rank him 15th and 13th, respectively, in the NFL this season. This obviously includes his shaky performances against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 1 and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. That dreadful afternoon in Baltimore provides with a useful splitting point. Burrow ranked 24th and 18th in those categories from Weeks 1-5, and from Week 6 to now, Burrow’s rankings jump to fourth and ninth.

Things have been consistently clicking for Burrow over his last three games, and it’s why he’s on a very promising pace to finish the season. When compared to 33 other rookie starters through the first nine weeks of the last 15 seasons, Burrow’s ECC score and PFF both ranked fourth. In short, Burrow is legitimately on pace for one of the best rookie quarterback seasons in the modern era, and we’ve done extensive reviews of every single one of his first eight games.

This week, as the Bengals are now officially halfway through their season, Matt Minich and I went through some of the top plays of not only Burrow, but the other five rookies that have played significant snaps for the Bengals this season. Tee Higgins, Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Khalid Kareem have all been consistent contributors this season and Hakeem Adeniji finally got his shot to play last week against the Tennessee Titans.

In addition to breaking down some of their best tape so far, we also talked about second-half expectations for each of them and future implications for the positions they play.

Check out the video at the top of the page and enjoy our Rookie Report/Chalk Talk crossover special!

SB Nation’s Cincy Jungle podcast channel is home to “Matt Minich’s Bengals Chalk Talk,” along with “The Orange and Black Insider” with Anthony Cosenza and John Sheeran, and “Orange is the New Black” with Ace Boogie and Zim WhoDey. Be sure to go follow our Twitter page and then go ‘like’ our Facebook page to get everything you need to know about the Bengals.