Pro Football Focus has released their all-rookie team at the new “midway” point of this 17-game season. Certain positions are filled by the pre-season consensus picks for all-rookie teams such as Kyle Pitts at TE, Ja’marr Chase at WR, and Micah Parsons at LB.
However, there are few players who were not the first taken at their respective positions who made the cut. Much to the delight of Patriots fans, two of those players are quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore. Both of these players have made a significant impact on the Patriots campaign thus far, so let’s take a look at why they are being held in high regard.
Jones has been steady behind center for the Patriots all season and is able to do so while simultaneously avoiding turnovers. PFF points out that although Jones is often criticized for frequent check-downs, his average depth of target is eight yards, a number that actually puts him at the same average depth of target as both Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes.
Another intriguing aspect of PFF’s choice to select Jones as their mid-season all-rookie team is the fact that his QBR is 22.2 points higher than the next closest rookie QB. Considering these statistics and his team’s record, Jones has made the choice for this spot fairly easy when compared to his rookie competition. However, one common misconception about his rookie season is that he is in an ideal position compared to other rookies.
While Jones is undoubtedly in a better position than rookies like Trevor Lawrence or Zach Wilson, saying that his situation has been ideal would be almost completely false.
The Patriots’ running game has been inconsistent at best; Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, and J.J. Taylor have all dealt with fumbling issues. The offensive line, although improved in previous weeks, has not lived up to the pre-season hype.
Dealing with injuries and covid protocols, the line has often struggled with blitz pickups and neutralizing edge rushers specifically. Jones has been beaten up through the first eight weeks and his toughness should not go unnoticed.
Many Patriots fans were excited when Barmore slipped to the second round. Head coach and GM Bill Belichick even traded up to acquire Barmore at the beginning of the second round.
To this point, the Alabama product has given opposing defenses cause for concern. He is explosive, strong, and surprisingly fast for an interior defensive lineman. While he still needs to become a more consistent force in the run game, Barmore’s ability to explode through the line, collapse the pocket, and create pressure for opposing quarterbacks has been paramount.
For a front seven that finds itself overly reliant on Matthew Judon at times, Barmore is a nice addition to this front seven and will likely see increased playing time as the season continues. With Barmore, Judon, and Uche all in the mix, this front seven could become a quarterback’s worst nightmare very quickly. His rookie campaign to this point has been impressive, and if he continues to improve Barmore could quickly become a foundational piece for this Patriots defense.