Three Notre Dame football alums were among the best rookies named by Pro Football Focus. Ronnie Stanley, sixth overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens, is the one pick most fans are probably not surprised to see on this list. Romeo Okwara and Matthias Farley on the other hand may cause some eyebrows to raise.
Hey Rookies,— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 23, 2016
Welcome to the NFL . Keep up the good work! pic.twitter.com/VEX40dpTxM
Even after coming off his best season in an Irish uniform where he led the team in sacks, Okwara still went undrafted. Fortunately, the New York Giants gave him a chance and he has taken it and ran with it. So far through two preseason games Okwara has tallied seven tackles and a sack. What the numbers don’t show is that he’s been causing havoc off the edge as a rusher. PFF has him rated as the best 4-3 defensive end among rookies.
Farley might be the most surprising considering 1) he wasn’t drafted and 2) he was at best a serviceable player while at Notre Dame. Most probably weren’t expecting a promising NFL career from Farley, but early on he’s been impressing and looks to have a pretty good shot of making the 53-man roster of the Arizona Cardinals. Through the first two preseason games Farley has been Arizona’s leading tackler with 10 tackles. PFF has Farley rated as the best safety among rookies.
Stanley is the third Irish player on the list, as PFF rated him as the best offensive tackle among rookies, which is not much of surprise. Stanley was the first offensive lineman selected in the 2016 draft. He’ll start at left tackle this season, protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side for the Ravens.
A few other Irish rookies who are enjoying success this preseason have been Will Fuller and Ishaq Williams. Fuller is leading the Texans in receiving yards and second in yards per reception. Williams hasn’t played a snap of football in almost two years since he had to sit out last year at Notre Dame, but he’s been really impressive so far for the Giants. He’s currently second on the team in tackles and looks to be a good bet to make the roster.