2013 NFL rookie of the year: Mike Glennon, offensive tackles making strides

Otto Greule Jr

Who expected Mike Glennon to look decent against the Seahawks?

The 2013 NFL Draft was weird.

Offensive tackles were taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall. Three offensive tackles were off the board in the first four picks. What's been even stranger is how little impact those three offensive tackles have had. Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson have struggled with the Chiefs and Eagles respectively, while Jaguars tackle Luke Joeckel is out for the season with a broken ankle.

But Week 9 was a big one for the hogs up front. For the first time this season, both Fisher and Johnson flashed sings of being the dominant linemen they were drafted to be.

Here's a breakdown of Fisher, Johnson and a handful of other rookies from Week 9.

Three up

Mike Glennon, Quarterback, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A rookie quarterback on a winless team traveling to Seattle to take on the 7-1 Seahawks and their vaunted pass defense. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well, not exactly. Mike Glennon had his best game as a Buccaneer in a narrow loss to the Seahawks in Week 9. He completed 17 of his 23 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, Glennon was going through his reads confidently and getting the ball out quicker than he did the last few weeks. He was still sacked three times, but he looked a lot more comfortable in the pocket than he has.

Eric Fisher, Offensive tackle, Kansas City Chiefs: Fisher has been mentioned often in this weekly feature but mostly because of his poor play. However, Fisher has shown improvement and that culminated in a dominant effort against the Bills in Week 9. He still had a few minor issues in pass protection, but he was mauling in the run game. It's taking Fisher some time, but it appears he's finally adjusting to the right side of the line of scrimmage. Look for him to make strides in pass protection as he gets more and more comfortable with the footwork.

Lane Johnson, Offensive tackle, Philadelphia Eagles: Chip Kelly's offense has been under the microscope this season. The fact pace and zone running game have kept teams off balanced off time, but the Eagles have also hit a wall on numerous occasions. On Sunday against the Raiders, Kelly's offense looked as dominant as it has since the opening game of the season. Rookie offensive tackle Lane Johnson was a big reason why. His quick feet and body control have been on display in recent weeks as he has improved his kick slide and gotten better balance as a result. He's no longer a liability in pass protections. Rather, he's become a strength for the Eagles in that area. The development has been nothing but encouraging in recent weeks.

Three down

Tyler Eifert, Tight end, Cincinnati Bengals: When Tyler Eifer stood at the podium inside Lucas Oil Stadium answering questions from reporters at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, one topic kept coming up; Eifert's blocking. He insisted he was working on it, that it wouldn't be an issue. Against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, it was a huge problem. He couldn't keep defenders out of the backfield and didn't fare much better in the passing game. The learning curve for Eifert has been a bit steeper than expected.

D.J. Hayden, Cornerback, Oakland Raiders: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw for seven touchdowns against the Raiders in Week 9, so someone had to look foolish. Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden was one of many Oakland defensive players that Foles' made look silly. He let up two touchdowns and was only targeted four times. Sunday's game was one of a handful of poor showings from Hayden is a shaky first season in the league.

Margus Hunt, Defensive end, Cincinnati Bengals: Nobody expected Margus Hunt to make an effortless transition to the NFL. He was a strong, quick-twitch playmaker on SMU's defensive line that would need serious work to tap into his massive potential. Last Thursday night, Hunt showed just how far he has to come. Playing in limited snaps, Hunt was consistently stonewalled when rushing the passer and made hardly any impact on the game.

Rookie of the Year

Offense: Giovani Bernard, Running Back, Cincinnati Bengals: No change here. Giovani Bernard continued his spectacular rookie season against the Dolphins in Week 9 and is the front runner for rookie of the year as we enter the second half of the season. Eddie Lacy continues to gain ground on Bernard, but it's tough to ignore the consistency and body of work Bernard has constructed.

Defense: Sheldon Richardson, Defensive lineman, New York Jets: Entering the second half of the season, four players are in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Sheldon Richardson tops the list, but Panthers defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Chiefs cornerback Marcus Cooper and Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso have all played well this season and aren't far behind. The crop of defensive rookies has been more impressive than the crop of offensive rookies in 2013.

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