Ogletree cracks Kiper's rookie rankings

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has been keeping tabs on this year's rookie class and how it's progressing throughout the preseason and into week 1.

Kiper released his first edition of the rookie rankingsInsider for Insider on Wednesday and a trio of Rams were mentioned but only one made the cut for his top 15: linebacker Alec Ogletree.

The rankings are based purely off performances in Week 1 and Ogletree checked in at No. 11 on Kiper's list. Here's what Kiper had to say about Ogletree's debut:

"He didn't come through with any difference-making plays, but he flashed his tremendous athleticism on a number of occasions, and finished the game with seven tackles, which was tied with Mathieu for most by any rookie in Week 1. He also started for what should be a strong defense. As this kid gains seasoning, he's only going to get better."

Ogletree's seven tackles tied for the team lead and the Rams coaches' review had him down for nine solo tackles and a pair of assists to go with a forced fumble.

Upon reviewing the All-22 tape of the Rams-Cardinals game, Ogletree was more active than I had originally thought. Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer said Ogletree was "all over the place," a compliment warmly received by Ogletree when asked about it Thursday.

"I appreciate the compliment from him," Ogletree said. "I work hard and try to [have a] presence out there on the field so for him to say that, I thank him for it."

As Kiper points out, there's plenty of room for Ogletree to improve but he seems to have made strides each week since his early preseason struggles. The third preseason game in Denver probably ballooned expectations too much while the first couple of preseason games probably hampered those expectations more than necessary. Like with most things, the truth will probably lie somewhere in the middle this season with plenty of the normal rookie ups and downs.

In addition to Ogletree, Rams receiver Tavon Austin and safety T.J. McDonald received honorable mention for Kiper's list.

Austin's unveiling didn't come with the fireworks many expected but he did find a way to move the chains in key situations a couple of times and finished with six catches for 41 yards on seven targets. McDonald had five tackles and a pass defended according to the NFL stats. The coaches' film review had him down for five solo tackles, two assists and three of what they call "big hits."

Much like Ogletree, Austin and McDonald will have their big moments this season and things could open up for Austin as soon as this week assuming Atlanta attempts to slow down tight end Jared Cook.

All in all, it was a solid first week for the Rams rookie group. The challenge now is to build on it moving forward.