3 Cocoa grads make the NFL 2019 all rookie team.
OT JAWAAN TAYLOR, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Taylor was the only rookie tackle in the NFL this season to play 500 or more offensive snaps and record a pass-blocking grade higher than 60.0. It was not an outstanding season for rookie tackles, but Taylor had a decent start to his career on the right side of the Jaguars’ offensive line. His 63.8 overall grade ranked 22nd out of 38 qualifying right tackles, and he was one of 20 players at the position to allow a pressure rate lower than 6.0%. In a disappointing season for the Jaguars’ line as a whole, Taylor’s solid play as a rookie was a silver lining.
CB JAMEL DEAN, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The first significant game action that Dean saw this season in Week 9 against the Seattle Seahawks was one of the worst cornerback performances of the season. He allowed nine receptions for 155 yards in that outing alone. Since then, he’s been one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Among all cornerbacks with 25 or more targets since Week 10, Dean’s passer rating allowed of 29.1 was the lowest in the NFL by over 10 points, and his forced incompletion rate of 30.3% also led the position group. That strong finish to the season gives plenty of reason to be optimistic about his pairing with Carlton Davis in 2020.
CB CHAUNCEY GARDNER-JOHNSON, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Gardner-Johnson has been a bit of a Swiss Army knife for the Saints' defense, playing 50 or more snaps as a slot cornerback, box safety free safety and edge defender. Most of his time has been spent at slot corner, with 268 snaps, and his play there is the biggest reason for his inclusion on this list. Among all defenders with 25 or more slot targets, Gardner-Johnson’s 77.3 coverage grade ranks fourth. His 29.6% forced incompletion rate on those slot targets is the best in the league. The slot receiver is becoming a bigger and bigger part of NFL offenses, and Gardner-Johnson is proving his worth by taking those passes away.