NFL’s most disappointing rookies of 2017

Every NFL team has played at least half its season now, and many have gotten good returns from their rookies, but here are the rookies that have disappointed the most

2017 has been a year full of great rookie contributions. From Kareem Hunt bursting onto the scene on Opening Night to Leonard Fournette carrying the Jaguars forward and Deshaun Watson giving Houston the jolt of electricity they needed, the 2017 rookie class has been brilliant, but only in parts.

However, there have been plenty of disappointing rookie performances so far. There are players eating up snaps and simply not producing as we were lead to believe they would, or have been as affected by injuries as scouts were warning they would be.

  1. 5 Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

    Williams suffered a herniated disk in the spring, but that didn't stop the Chargers from spending the seventh overall pick on him.

    Coming into the 2017 season, QB Philip Rivers needed more targets to throw to. Unfortunately, Williams has only been able to get on the field for three games, bringing in two catches for 22 yards so far. Production nowhere near what the team expected when drafting him in the top 10.

    It's not been the season the Chargers were hoping for, and Williams has been very slow to make an impact.

  2. 4 Zay Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills

    The second round pick was going to take up the mantle of Sammy Watkins and run with it. Instead, the Bills traded Watkins and Jones swiftly dropped everything thrown his way.

    Jones has caught just 36.4% of his targets, which is 16 balls, for 168 yards and one score. His poor form has led the Bills to have to trade for Kelvin Benjamin in order to get more consistent play outside the numbers. That is not a good return from Jones.

  3. 3 Haason Reddick, OLB, Arizona Cardinals

    Reddick was a surprise selection at #13 for the Cardinals and has been splitting time on the edge with Markus Golden.

    Unfortunately, the return on investment has so far been deeply disappointing for the Cards. Reddick has registered just half a sack, two tackles for loss, and three QB hits so far this season, which you'd expect from a nose tackle, not an edge rusher.

    With Chandler Jones dominating on the other side, it's not been a disaster for Arizona, but it has been a very poor return so far.

  4. 2 OJ Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Howard came in with a big billing. At 6'6" with big play speed and a massive wingspan, he was meant to be part of a revolution in Tampa Bay that would spark a playoff push. That hasn't happened, and nor has Howard laid claim to the "next Gronkowski" mantle.

    Howard has featured in all eight games and caught just 22 passes for 227 yards. While he has scored three touchdowns, he has also fumbled twice, including during a terrible Week 9 game in New Orleans.

    He only has one game, Week 7 against Buffalo, with more than two catches. With those numbers, Howard has been relegated to a bit-part player in a passing game that has not been nearly as expansive as it was meant to be this year.

  5. 1 Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    Our #1 disappointing rookie could only be one player though, and that's Christian McCaffrey.

    The Stanford back was meant to be the final piece of an intricate puzzle and an offense that would dominate the NFL.

    The book on McCaffrey was that he could run well between the tackles, beat linebackers in coverage, line up out wide and run routes like a very good receiver.

    The truth is that he has been a very poor running back in the pros so far. On 64 carries McCaffrey has managed just 183 yards, that's 2.9 yards per carry. He has caught a huge 54 passes for 406 yards, but even that is a disappointment.

    McCaffrey has not been nearly as explosive in the pros as he was in college, and he looks for all the world like any other receiving back in the NFL. He has been a rich man's Danny Woodhead this year, and that's not what you want from the #8 pick.

  1. Who do you think has been the most disappointing rookie of the season so far?

    1. Mike Williams
    2. Zay Jones
    3. Haason Reddick
    4. OJ Howard
    5. Christian McCaffrey
    6. Other (let us know in the comments below!)
    2829 votes
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Toby Durant


Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.