(Timothy Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports)

Ronald Darby said he hit a rookie wall in Week 11. Stats support the Buffalo Bills cornerback.

Ronald Darby admitted that he hit the rookie wall in 2015. Stats support the Buffalo Bills cornerback.

Ronald Darby's rookie season was outstanding with the Buffalo Bills. No one could have predicted just how much of an impact Darby would have as a rookie with the Bills after the team selected him with the 50th overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Darby's entire body of work this season was terrific over 15 games played, but the cornerback admitted to BuffaloBills.com that he hit a rookie wall this season.

“About Week 10, Week 11 really, that’s when my body started feeling different,” said Darby. “I felt like I didn’t have that same twitch that I normally have. It’s natural. Everybody goes through it.”

When looking at a breakdown of Darby's stats from Pro Football Focus, stats support Darby's timeframe.

In the first nine games of the year, Darby didn't allow any touchdowns, nor did any team's receivers go over 62 yards receiving against the former Florida State Seminole. The cornerback was tested early and often over the first nine weeks, but he held up very well. 

From Week 11 on, Darby's play seemed to fall off a bit. He gave up four total touchdowns against the Chiefs and Texans in Week 12 and 13. In addition to the touchdowns, opposing receivers also had more success against Darby in terms of yards. In three of his final six games, receiving units had over 72 yards against Darby. Here's a breakdown of Darby's play before and after he hit the "rookie wall."

Targets Receptions Allowed Yards Allowed Yards Allowed Per Game TDs INTs PD
Week 1-10 (9 gms) 69 34 338 37.5 0 2 18
Week 11-15, 17 (6 gms) 36 23 322 53.6 4 0 3

Darby left the Week 17 matchup against the NY Jets, which actually helped lower his yards allowed per game average. If that game was removed, Darby's average actually rises to 64.4 yards per game. 

Over Darby's first nine games, an opposing QB's rating only went over 100 against him once (Week 9 vs. Ryan Tannehill). From Week 11 on, this happened to Darby three times (Week 12 vs. Alex Smith, Week 13 vs. Brian Hoyer, Week 15 vs. Kirk Cousins).

Darby clearly had a good feel for when he hit the rookie wall. The good news for Darby, and for the Bills, is that his body will be much more prepared for the physical toll that the NFL takes on him in his second season. 


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