The NFL has a superstar problem. With major injuries to Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, Odell Beckham and Joe Thomas headlining the many 2017 losses to the torn and broken parts of the best football has to offer, someone has to step up. Luckily, it seems that the 2016 draft already has many of those someones.
That was highlighted on Monday night when Carson Wentz, the second overall pick last year, tossed four more touchdowns in a 34-24 Eagles win over Washington. The result gives Wentz an NFL-leading 17 touchdown passes on the year, which is also more than the 16 touchdowns he had as a rookie, and 11 touchdowns over the last three games alone. Propped up against just four interceptions for 6-1 Philadelphia, Wentz is the clear frontrunner for MVP less than two years after he was playing for North Dakota State.
Let's look at the best picks from last year's draft:
Top 10 Picks
1. Jared Goff, QB, LA Rams
Last year, the Rams traded their life savings for Goff, but it was a slow return on investment. Goff was perhaps the worst quarterback in the NFL over his seven starts as a rookie, but now he's posting roughly average numbers for a 5-2 team atop the NFC West: 9 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, a 90.3 rating and 7.7 yards per attempt. That's a positive result for a second-year QB and he shouldn't necessarily be judged against Wentz' historic-so-far campaign.
2. Carson Wentz, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
If there's a word of caution, it's that in Nick Foles' second year with Philly, he threw 27 touchdowns and two interceptions. But Wentz is clearly more talented, clearly making plays that only he and a few other guys could make, and he doesn't seem to be heavily dependent on the system he plays in. Wentz seems to be rapidly improving week-to-week.
3. Joey Bosa, DE, LA Chargers
Bosa already has 18 sacks in his first 19 career games. Consider the following: Mario Williams had 18.5 sacks over his first 32 games with the Texans. Julius Peppers had 19 sacks in his first two seasons with the Panthers. Khalil Mack had 19 in his first two seasons with the Raiders. Bosa's utter dominance, which includes 7.5 sacks this season, seems to put him more in the Von Miller category than anyone else. That's an extremely rare tier to be in.
Joey Bosa is a tier one pressure player. Wins with hand usage, speed to power, and a top tier pass rush plan, backed by a relentless motor. pic.twitter.com/xT8uo0jK6Y- Ethan Young (@NFLDrafter) October 23, 2017
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
He wasted no time leading the league in rushing, putting up 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns as a rookie. His peers voted him No. 7 on the NFL Top 100 this year. He was looking like he was taking a step back to open the year, but over the last three games, Elliott has 348 yards, 4.58 yards per carry, 142 receiving yards, and five touchdowns. Note, though, that a suspension looms.
5. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jaguars
Great corners are supposed to take at least a couple years to adjust to the pro level. And yet seven games into his second season, it's fair to wonder if Ramsey is the best corner in the game. We haven't really had to address someone like this since Richard Sherman came into the league in 2011.
Your weekly update of top CBs in passer rating allowed this season:- Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) October 22, 2017
Both played well again today
6. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Ravens
Baltimore was desperate for a solid left tackle and the move for Stanley felt a little desperate given who else was available on the board, but he's been anything but a disappointment. He's been a little inconsistent, but at 23, he clearly seems to be on the right path.
7. DeForest Buckner, DT, 49ers
When it comes to creating pressure on the quarterback there is Aaron Donald and then "everyone else." But outside of Donald, Buckner could be as good as anyone else in that "everyone else" category. He's been good for almost three QB pressures per game and surely is on a road to being an All-Pro defensive lineman alongside Donald.
deforest buckner pic.twitter.com/CHHHuTjBnr- charles mcdonald (@FourVerts) October 17, 2017
8. Jack Conklin, OT, Titans
Conklin, Elliott, and Tyreek Hill (fifth round) were all rookies who were named first team All-Pros last season. That's not so uncommon for a kick returner, not totally surprising for a running back, but absolutely bonkers for a tackle. Conklin has been dominant from the start.
9. Leonard Floyd, OLB, Bears
He was decent as a rookie but may be starting to find his groove, recording four sacks in the last three games.
10. Eli Apple, CB, Giants
New York may be 1-6 but Apple has practically nothing to do with their failures. Look at him handle Doug Baldwin -- a top-10 touchdown threat -- one-on-one in the red zone and bat a pass away. He gave up 17 yards to the Seahawks and just 38 on 10 targets a week earlier to the Broncos.
Best of the Rest
After the top 10, there are players who have mostly struggled, like cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, inconsistent left tackle Laremy Tunsil, and Mr. Invisible Corey Coleman, who managed to get punished by the Browns for missing curfew despite the fact that he's not even on the active roster because of a broken hand. However, there are other players peppered in the first round who are also off to extraordinary career starts.
16. Taylor Decker, OT, Lions
He's missed all of this season while recovering from a torn labrum, but Decker was an average starting left tackle in 2016, which is significant for a first-year player.
17. Keanu Neal, S, Falcons
Already one of the top strong safeties in the NFL, Neal helped get Atlanta to the Super Bowl last year after the secondary lost Desmond Trufant. He is now the vocal leader of the defense at age 22 and could spend the next decade collecting Pro Bowl accolades. During the Falcons' most recent loss to the Patriots, Neal was still suffocating Rob Gronkowski.
When Brady targeted Gronk with Keanu Neal in coverage:- PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Atlanta) October 23, 2017
1/4, 13 yards, 40.6 passer rating
21. Will Fuller, WR, Texans
Not to over-hype Fuller's overall contributions, because a catch rate of 51.8% is low and he's missed time with injury, but since returning three games ago he has scored five touchdowns. Fuller could be finding a very valuable niche now that he has a very viable quarterback.
135. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
Every NFL fans has seen the impact that Prescott has had thus far, a quarterback who has had a better overall career than even Wentz and in the midst of a dominant run: Over his last four games, Prescott has 11 touchdowns, two interceptions, 8 Y/A, a rating of 113.7, and three rushing touchdowns. He was one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league as a rookie and he's only moving up the list.
165. Tyreek Hill, WR/KR/PR, Chiefs
An All-Pro as a returner in 2016, Hill is already looking like a Pro Bowler at receiver in year two. He's made the transition on offense, having caught 36 passes for 515 yards (fifth in the NFL), three touchdowns, hauling in 73.5% of his targets. The Chiefs have turned into the top offense in the league over the last two years strictly because of Hill and Kareem Hunt, both taken after round two.
Tyreek Hill turns on the burners 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/QiNGWfVgpl- Word of the Saint (@wordofthesaint) October 20, 2017
47. Michael Thomas, WR, Saints
He was a little more consistent as a rookie, but Thomas was also one of the best rookie receivers we've ever seen. He's already a top-15 receiver with the potential to be a lot more.
69. Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jaguars
While they made some huge free agent pickups in Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye, you can't ignore the impact that Jacksonville's 2016 draft class had on them turning into the league's best defense -- Ramsey in the first, Myles Jack in the second, and Ngakoue in round three. He has 6.5 sacks in seven games this year, plus three forced fumbles. Jack (36th overall) has 56 tackles, two sacks, and two fumble recoveries.
52. Deion Jones, LB, Falcons
Another huge add to the Atlanta defense. Jones probably has many Pro Bowls in his future.
These OTs did not allow a pressure in Week 6 pic.twitter.com/w0w2m2atz8- Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 21, 2017
150. Jordan Howard, RB, Bears
After totaling 1,313 rushing yards as a rookie for a 3-13 team, Howard is fifth in rushing this season with four touchdowns. He had 166 yards and two touchdowns in Chicago's upset win over the Steelers, keeping them in the hunt for a playoff spot up to this point.
35. Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers
The 2017 tight end class could be the best such class ever, but Henry came a year earlier and could still be better than all of them. He's commanded the field at times and has 10 touchdowns in 22 games.
155. Joe Haeg, OT, Colts
It's so hard to find a capable tackle these days, that even if Haeg is just an average one, it's a major accomplishment to get him in the fifth round. Given that he's still finding his place and position, it's encouraging that he could be a really good lineman down the line.
37. Chris Jones, DT, Chiefs
Kansas City's defense has been a letdown, but Jones is one of the bright spots.
64. Kevin Byard, S, Titans
It's hard to know how much value to place on three picks in a single game against the Browns, but Byard was already off to a pretty good start in his career. He now leads the league in interceptions.