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Former FSU Players Named PFF's Rookie Of The Year and First Runner Up

Two Former FSU players sit atop Pro Football Focus' Rookie Of The Year list.

Pro Football Focus announced former Florida State quarterback and No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston as their rookie of the year. Winston became just the third rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, and he accounted for 28 touchdowns to just 13 interceptions.

Here is what Pro Football Focus had to say about Winston:

"While Tampa Bay, as a team, didn’t have a season to remember, Jameis Winston made the Buccaneers look pretty smart by drafting him first overall. After a slow Week 1 start, Winston was a top 10 quarterback from Week 2 and on.

While some young quarterbacks in recent years have played conservatively and relied on the talent around them, Winston was asked to do much more with lesser talent. His average depth of target of 10.3 was the fifth-highest among quarterbacks this year behind MVP candidates Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, and Ben Roethlisberger. He accomplished a 4,000-yard season despite a below-average offensive line in pass blocking efficiency. On paper, he has a strong receiving core around him, but Austin Seferian-Jenkins missed over half the season, and Vincent Jackson missed six games. The Buccaneers lacked consistency from their third and fourth wide receiver spots.

Where Winston was most impressive was his big-time throws. He had 39, which tied him for sixth-best alongside Tom Brady. If he can take away some of the negatives, the former FSU standout could be a Pro Bowler by his second season. When you consider how many outright busts there have been at quarterback over the past three years, and how long it’s taken for others to develop, the fact that Winston was this good this early is incredibly impressive."

Winston wasn't the only former Florida State player on the list however. Right behind Winston in the runner up spot was cornerback Ronald Darby. Darby was drafted by the Bills in the second round, and was an immediate starter. 

Here is what they had to say about Darby:

"Although another rookie cornerback attracted more media attention, Ronald Darby was the most consistent first-year CB this season. His 87.1 PFF grade places him fourth-best among cornerbacks, while is 13 passes defended were tied for fifth-most. He allowed a low 54.3 percent catch rate and 11.6 yards per catch, which are both below the league average for cornerbacks. His 11.9 tackling efficiency was also good for the top 20 at the position. Teams tried to take advantage of him by targeting him 105 times, which was fifth-most, but they rarely were able to beat him. His 660 yards allowed were the fewest among the 10 most-targeted cornerbacks.

Some might prefer Marcus Peters here because he had more positive plays than Darby, including more interceptions and passes defended. Peters led all cornerbacks in positively-graded coverage plays, but Darby wasn’t far behind at sixth-best. However, cornerback is more of a position meant to prevent big plays, as opposed to making big ones. Peters had the second-most negatively-graded plays in coverage, just behind Brandon Browner, while Darby wasn’t even in the top 15.

Regardless of who you prefer, both of these players are especially impressive when you consider the typical play of rookie cornerbacks. We’ve seen rookie CBs be successful in recent years, but typically just in part-time roles. Ronald Darby was able to become a day one starter—and keep the job—despite other good cornerbacks on the roster, and never allowed a 100-yard game."


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