Now that the NFL season is a decent chunk of the way through there is a lot of tape on the NFL rookies. With the tape comes labels like franchise QB, draft bust, and steal. We’ve got enough tape to start ranking these rookies to some extent. That’s why I bring you my first look at the rookie power rankings.

There had to be a snap minimum set because small sample sizes can hurt or help guys more than they should. I set it at an arbitrary 200 snaps. After ranking the top 32 rookies I decided to throw out my top 15 running backs in the 2018 class so far. This looks like a far weaker draft class than we’ve seen in the past, but the running backs standout. They aren’t nearly as top heavy as last years’ class, but there’s a ton of depth. After the Tier 1 runners (Barkley, Guice), there’s a handful of future starters/contributors in the tier 2 guys.

Rookie Wire

Offensive Rookie of the Year Tracker:

  1. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
  2. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  3. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints

Defensive Rookie of the Year Tracker:

  1. Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints
  2. Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills
  3. Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets

Rookie Power Rankings (minimum 200 snaps)-           

  1. Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans 
  • Unfortunately, Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice last week and is done for the season. On the bright side prior to the injury Watson was leading the league in touchdown passes with 19 and arguably the most exciting player of the 2017 season. Watson would have owned the top spot the rest of the way and taken home Offensive Rookie of the Year, if not for the injury. The Texans have their franchise QB, poor Browns.
  1. Marshon Lattimore, CB, New Orleans Saints 
  • Injury concerns pushed Marshon Lattimore, the best cornerback in the 2017 class, to the 11th overall pick. The Saints didn’t overthink it and took the freak athlete and it’s paid off big. Lattimore has been a top five cornerback in the NFL and arguably the best in the league. He shutdown Mike Evans last week to the point he lost his mind. Lattimore has broken up eight passes and intercepted two more in just seven games.
  1. Kareem Hunt, RB, Kansas City Chiefs 
  • With Watson done for the season, Kareem Hunt is essentially a lock to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Hunt has helped to transform the Chiefs offense into one of the best in the league. He leads the NFL in rushing yards with 800, he’s fourth in yards per attempt (YPA) with 5.2 and he’s as good a receiver as any back in the league. Hunt has been the NFL’s best running back statistically leading the league in all-purpose yards with 1,131.
  1. Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills 
  • Maybe the biggest surprise of any first-round pick has been the instant impact of Tre’Davious White in Buffalo. White is an ideal fit for head coach Sean McDermott’s defense and has been their number one cornerback all season. The feisty White has some of the quickest feet in the NFL and has been disruptive in coverage. He leads the league in pass breakups with 12, has one interception, and in the Bills win over Tampa Bay he forced and recovered a fumble late for the win.
  1. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars 
  • Despite missing the last three games, two due to injury and one due to breaking team rules, Fournette has been a monster this year. He’s the key cog in Jacksonville’s offense and is a major part of the reason they’re in playoff position. He’s run for over 100 yards in four of his six games and is sixth in the league in rushing with 596 yards. Fournette currently leads the league in rushing yards per game with nearly 100 and is second in rushing touchdowns with six. He has been a wrecking ball this season and has flashed impressive explosion on a handful of big runs. Fournette is perfect for Jacksonville.
  1. Jamal Adams, S, New York Jets 
  • Most believed that the Jets had the worst roster in the league and would struggle to get one win this year. They’re currently 4-5 and way overachieving. Jamal Adams encapsulates their work your ass off attitude. Turn on a Jets game and you’ll see Adams effort all game long. The safety has been used in a bunch of ways and its damn fun to watch. Adams currently has 43 tackles, six TFLs, two sacks, and three pass breakups. He’s a tone setter at strong safety for the Jets.
  1. Carl Lawson, ED, Cincinnati Bengals 
  • Carl Lawson was one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. He didn’t have the measurable often needed to be a high pick on the edge, but he had the tape and the athleticism. Fast forward and the third-round pick has been the best rookie edge defender so far this season. Lawson’s numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, just seven tackles and 4.5 sacks in eight games. But when watching the Bengals, he’s constantly beating tackles and getting pressure. Currently he’s being used as a situational pass rusher, but as his role increases so will his numbers.
  1. Malik Hooker, S, Indianapolis Colts 
  • Another great rookie lost to an ACL tear earlier in the season, Hooker looked like the ideal center fielder at free safety. Hooker used his phenomenal range to make plays on the ball and was leading the league in interceptions before his injury. He slid to the 15th pick and everyone knew it was a steal right away. In seven games Hooker picked off three passes and broke up four more. Hooker and Adams look like the future at free safety and strong safety, respectively.
  1. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints 
  • I will never understand how Alvin Kamara fell to the third-round. I had a first-round grade on the University of Tennessee running back. Now that I’ve bragged about a hit I have to balance it with a miss, DeShone Kizer was my number one QB. Kamara fell to the perfect team to use his skillset. Sean Payton loves dynamic receivers at running back and that’s what Kamara is, he’s being used like a bigger Darren Sproles. Kamara has seen his role increase since the Saints traded Adrian Peterson. He’s one of the best screen backs in the league and a quick elusive runner with the size to hold up. Kamara is currently 12th in all-purpose yards with 772 and leads the league in YPA with 6.0.
  1. Dalvin Tomlinson, ID, New York Giants 
  • Dalvin Tomlinson, like Lawson, might not have overly impressive numbers, but he’s been a huge asset to the Giants as a run-defender. He has been a run plug alongside Damon Harrison and I suggest we nickname them Double D’s. Tomlinson has been an average pass rusher, but one of the best interior defenders against the run. He has easily been the best rookie interior defender this season.
  1. Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants 
  • Before injuries struck the Giants offense Evan Engram was expected to be their third or fourth option. Now, he has become their most important pass catcher with a much larger role. Engram leads the Giants in receiving yards, he’s seventh among tight ends in receiving yards, and second among rookies with 412 yards. His athleticism creates a major mismatch with NFL linebackers.
  1. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams 
  • The rookie wide receiver class has been struggling due to injuries and consistency. Cooper Kupp has been the only consistent rookie receiver. He has become a safety valve for Jared Goff and aside from a big drop against Seattle he has been great. Kupp has played primarily out of the slot and has pulled in 26 receptions for 370 yards and three scores.
  1. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, New Orleans Saints 
  • The thing is, Ryan Ramczyk wasn’t suppose to start this season for the Saints. Injuries to Terron Armstead and Zach Strief have forced Ramczyk to start at left tackle and right tackle this season. He has started every Saints game and has been one of the better tackles in football. Ramczyk has been both good as a pass protector and run blocker. He looks like a potential 10-year starter along the line.
  1. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals 
  • Numbers don’t always do a player justice; this is true for Joe Mixon. He has just 284 yards rushing while his YPA is an awful 2.9. It’s not all on Mixon, the Bengals offensive line has been putrid this season and he has nowhere to go. Other times his patient style hurts him and he seems too tentative to hit a hole and take what is given. If this o-line can get better, Mixon has the talent to be a star. He’s also been very good as a pass catcher with 204 yards on 20 catches.
  1. Zach Cunningham, LB, Houston Texans 
  • In the draft process there were more pro-ready linebackers than Zach Cunningham. He was known for playing fast and uncontrolled, but he was forced into action early due to a Brian Cushing suspension. Cunningham has been great against the run. He uses his athleticism and effort to beat blocks and smash backs. He needs to improve in coverage, but he has a bright future.
  1. TJ Watt, ED, Pittsburgh Steelers 
  • In his NFL debut TJ Watt got a ton of attention by picking up two sacks and an interception. Since then he has comeback down to earth some, but has been an impactful player on a good defense. Watt has been a strong run-defender and added some pass rush ability. He looks like the Steelers best edge defender already. Watt has tallied 28 tackles, four sacks, six TFLs, and an interception this season.
  1. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers 
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster is another Steelers player who had one massive game that propelled him into the national spotlight. Against the Lions Smith-Schuster had 197 yards and a score, looking faster than anybody believed. He has played more snaps than Martavis Bryant this season and looks like the new number two option. Smith-Schuster has strong hands and a physical style. He leads all rookies in receiving yards with 424 on 24 receptions to go with four scores.
  1. Desmond King, CB, LA Chargers 
  • Speed is coveted for NFL defensive backs, well Desmond King wasn’t fast enough and fell to the fifth-round. Guess what? What King lacks in athleticism he makes up in knowing how to play football. King has been massively productive as a rookie. He has played cornerback, nickel, and safety. He looks like a mainstay for the Chargers.
  1. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers 
  • Doesn’t seem like any other first-round pick has disappointed in the way Christian McCaffrey has, and yet he’s still a top 20 rookie. Expectations were far too high for CMC, especially because he doesn’t necessarily fit the Panthers offense. He’s struggled to run the ball and doesn’t seem to break tackles, but he’s been their safety valve receiver and is starting to be used better as a runner. CMC is currently second among running backs in receiving and 11th in all-purpose yards. Give him more time before calling him disappointing, and this is coming from a notorious CMC doubter.
  1. Eddie Jackson, S, Chicago Bears
  • The former Alabama safety made a name for himself in Week 7 when he became the first player with two 75+ yard return touchdowns on defense in the same game. Jackson broke his leg his Senior year at Bama and slid to the fourth-round, but has started every game in Chicago. Jackson looks like the long-term starting free safety for Da Bears.
  1. Marcus Maye, S, New York Jets
  • The Jets used their first two picks on safeties, a bold decision, but it has paid off. Adams has been everything expected and Marcus Maye has been a great contrast to him. Maye has been great at free safety in coverage and gives the Jets two safeties for the next decade. Maye has 45 tackles, two interceptions, and two pass breakups on the season.
  1. Marcus Williams, S, New Orleans Saints
  • Yes, the Saints hit on their first four picks in the 2017 Draft. It might even be their first six the way Alex Anzalone was playing before injury and how Trey Hendrickson has looked it limited snaps. Safety Marcus Williams has been a perfect pairing with the line of scrimmage lurker in Kenny Vaccaro. Williams is a deep safety with big-time range and ball skills. The Saints secondary looks set for the next couple years.
  1. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Dallas Cowboys
  • If not for off-field issues Jourdan Lewis may have gone as high as the first-round in the draft. Lewis was forced onto the field early for the Cowboys due to injuries and has excelled. He’s an ideal fit in the slot with a feisty mentality and quick feet. Lewis looks like he’ll stick as their long-term nickel.
  1. Garett Bolles, OT, Denver Broncos
  • Not many of these players have had the ups and downs of Garett Bolles this season. At times Bolles has looked like a franchise left tackle and other times like a draft bust. He’s struggled massively as a pass protector, but his athleticism and mean streak have allowed him to dominate as a run blocker. Maybe he isn’t a star left tackle, but he’s definitely an NFL starter on the o-line.
  1. John Johnson III, S, Los Angeles Rams
  • Injuries in the Rams secondary forced them to play John Johnson before they wanted to and it’s worked out. Johnson has played some free safety, strong safety, and nickel this season for the Rams. He’s known for his hip fluidity and for being a long athlete. Johnson has been a far better run defender than expected, but has made his name in coverage with range.
  1. Deatrich Wise, ED, New England Patriots
  • Most Patriots fans will tell you this was suppose to be Derek Rivers, but the third-round tore his ACL in training camp and Wise stepped-up. Wise has the versatility coveted by New England with the ability to play on the edge or the interior. He’s been an impressive pass rusher, but needs more playing time.
  1. Shaquill Griffin, CB, Seattle Seahawks
  • One of the biggest surprises as a starter, Shaq Griffin has started the last five games for the Legion of Boom. Griffin has fit right in with the Seahawks as a big bodied corner who’s at his best in press man coverage. With the injury to Richard Sherman he’ll have to take his game to another level. Griffin is currently top five in the league in pass breakups with 10.
  1. Takkarist McKinley, ED, Atlanta Falcons
  • When he has seen the field Takk McKinley has been impactful, but right now he’s just a rotation player. He’s been a boost to the Falcons pass rush, but lack of ability against the run has stopped him from being a starter. McKinley currently has just two sacks, but looks like a nice complimentary edge to Vic Beasley.
  1. Charles Harris, ED, Miami Dolphins
  • Like McKinley, Charles Harris hasn’t played all that much. He’s been used more as a situational pass rusher on a deep defensive line. When on the field Harris has looked nice getting after QBs. He has a spin move that is reminiscent of Dwight Freeney and the bend to beat tackles.
  1. Kendell Beckwith, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Before injuries struck Kendell Beckwith and the rest of the Buccaneers linebacker core he was playing like a top 15 rookie. His play has teetered off since, but Beckwith still deserves a spot. Beckwith leads all rookies in tackles with 48 and has looked particularly good vs the run.
  1. Rasul Douglas, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
  • Considered by most more of a project cornerback, Rasul Douglas has been forced into action for the Eagles this season and he has not disappointed. Douglas gets better and better every week. A bigger corner in the mould of Richard Sherman, Douglas has used his length and ball skills to breakup nine passes and pick off two more this season.
  1. Nazair Jones, ID, Seattle Seahawks
  • Seattle is always finding gems outside of the first-round on defense. Naz Jones has been an impressive three-technique when on the field. He has a knack for pass rushing that makes up for his less than stellar run-defending. Jones has picked up 16 tackles, two sacks, and an interception this season.

Not Enough Snaps

Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears

Reuben Foster, LB, San Francisco 49ers

Myles Garrett, ED, Cleveland Browns

Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Jordan Willis, ED, Cincinnati Bengals

Johnathan Allen, ID, Washington

Xavier Woods, CB, Dallas Cowboys

Trey Hendrickson, ED, New Orleans Saints

Larry Ogunjobi, ID, Cleveland Browns

Marlon Mack, RB, Indianapolis Colts

Alex Anzalone, LB, New Orleans Saints

Some Rankings

Rank Player School Pro Comparison Strength Weakness
1. Saquon Barkley Penn State Marshall Faulk Instincts Pass Pro
2. Derrius Guice LSU Devonta Freeman Power Ball Security
3. Kalen Ballage Arizona State Le’Veon Bell Vision Power
4. Damien Harris Alabama Lamar Miller Quickness Pass Pro
5. Josh Adams Notre Dame Todd Gurley Burst Vision
6. Ronald Jones II USC LeSean McCoy Elusiveness Power
7. Sony Michel Georgia Giovani Bernard Quickness Pass Pro
8. Mark Walton Miami Frank Gore Balance Power
9. Bo Scarbrough Alabama Jordan Howard Power Receiving Ability
10. Rashaad Penny San Diego State Melvin Gordon Vision Elusiveness
11. Nick Chubb Georgia Mark Ingram Balance Receiving Ability
12. Bryce Love Stanford Reggie Bush Quickness Power
13. Myles Gaskin Washington Duke Johnson Elusiveness Power
14. Akrum Wadley Iowa Dion Lewis Quickness Power
15. Mike Weber Ohio State Terrance West Balance Quickness

 

Underclassmen on the Radar

Frosh: Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

The Heisman hype isn’t there because Jonathan Taylor is just a freshman at Wisconsin, but it should be. The 5-11, 214lb, bruising running back has been the main reason the Badgers offense can move the ball this season. Through nine games Taylor has compiled 1,368 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns while averaging 7.2 yards per attempt. He has looked like the next dominant college back fit for the Wisconsin pro-style game. Time will tell, but this frosh has all the makings of a Demarco Murray type of NFL runner.

Sophomore: Nick Bosa, ED, Ohio State

Ohio State has one of the most talented defensive lines in the country. The best player on that line is sophomore Nick Bosa, Joey’s little brother. He may not yet have the hype that Joey had as a true sophomore, but Nick is a future first-round pick. Like his brother, he’s a phenomenal pass rusher with great athleticism and strength that allow him to impact the run game. Bosa is 6-4, 270lbs and if he were draft eligible he would be off the board before teammates and potential first-round picks Sam Hubbard and Dre’Mont Jones.

For quality up-to-date sports reporting, visit our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

For all your collegiate and professional apparel needs, check out 365 Gameday.

Vice President of Media | The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.
×
Vice President of Media | The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.