NFL rookie season is already heating up and we’ve only seen three weeks of games. The QBs have been a ton of fun with Josh Allen pulling an upset, Bake Mayfield winning the Browns a game, and Josh Rosen being named the Cardinals starter. Guys like Calvin Ridley, Kerryon Johnson, and Harold Landry are effecting games like a lot of people expected. The rookie class has been balling.

Rookie of the Week

Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns

  • It would be a crime not to pick Baker Mayfield as the rookie of the week. He won the Browns their first game in 635 days. On top of that, he got Browns fans free beer. The start of Mayfield’s career couldn’t have been more magical. Entering the game down 14-0 with under two minutes until halftime, he instantly led the Browns to a scoring drive. From there, he picked apart the Jets with decisive accurate throws, caught a two-point conversion, and captured the hearts of Browns fans in the 21-17 comeback win. Mayfield showed everything he did at Oklahoma. The velocity was impeccable, his improvisation skills moving in the pocket, his fearlessness, and his overall swagger. It was just over one half of football, but he looks like the real deal and the Browns have officially made him the starter.

Rookie News

In a week where we saw Baker Mayfield’s magic and Josh Allen pull off an upset against the Bills, we also got our first taste of Cardinals first-round rookie QB Josh Rosen. For some reason Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy thought the best time to put Rosen in was down 16-14 with under four minutes to go vs Khalil Mack and the Bears. Not surprisingly, Rosen didn’t pull of the win. It was a bad spot to toss a rookie QB into it, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited. Rosen was my QB1 after all. Sam Bradford has been one of the worst QBs in the league this season, if not the worst. So, it was time to make a move and go with Rosen. The Cardinals officially named him the starter this week, so what should we expect?

At UCLA, Rosen was used to playing behind terrible O-lines with bad play-calling. Hopefully that prepared him for what is going to happen in Arizona. The Cardinals have one of the worst offensive lines and Mike McCoy, the Cardinals OC, can’t even figure out how to use All-Pro RB David Johnson. On the bright side, Rosen is a massive upgrade over Bradford in almost every way. Rosen has a stronger arm, more consistent accuracy, nearly perfect mechanics, and he can zip the ball with the best of them. The tools are there for him to succeed early if the Cardinals play-calling cleans up. It’s going to be bumpy behind the offensive line, Rosen isn’t a great scrambler, but he’s a smooth mover in the pocket. He’ll make up for the O-line better than Bradford could. This was the right move even if it takes sometime for Rosen to develop.

Week 3 Rookie Power Rankings

*Last weeks ranking in brackets

  1. Derwin James, DW, Los Angeles Chargers (1)

  • Another week, another impressive performance from Derwin James. It’s recklessly early to say this, but it feels like James has already won the Defensive Rookie of the Year race. Against the Rams, James made Jared Goff pay for throwing a ball late in the end zone and intercepted him. He was also a force coming up against the run and racked up nine tackles. James’ physical style of play is infectious.
  1. Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts (4)

  • Like James, it’s been three straight impressive weeks for Colts LB Darius Leonard. Leonard showed off his fantastic blitzing ability picking up two sacks against the Eagles. He was also flying around against the run. The range, physicality, and instincts he has shown so far are off the charts.
  1. Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers (2)

  • Even with the Chiefs punishing the 49ers defense through the air, Fred Warner was a big reason Kareem Hunt didn’t do much on the ground. Warner’s violence and quickness against the run were damn impressive, logging 11 tackles and two TFLs. Putting him with Reuben Foster is terrifying.
  1. Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts (5)

  • If an offensive lineman is ever going to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, this will be the year. Quenton Nelson has been living up to the massive hype as the best guard prospect ever. Nelson held his own vs Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox this week. His anchor and handwork made him the only quality Colts offensive lineman in pass pro.
  1. Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns (3)

  • Most years Denzel Ward would probably be leading the Defensive Rookie of the Year race. Unfortunately for him the defensive rookies have been sick this year. Against the Jets Ward made a huge hit on a throwback pass, showing off his physicality, explosion, and instincts at corner. He also straight up stole the ball out of Robby Anderson’s hands giving the Browns a huge momentum swing.
  1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (6)

  • The numbers might not be as good as his Week 1 game against Jacksonville, but against the Texans Saquon Barkley had his best game of the season. Instead of trying to bounce every run outside, he stuck in the middle showing patients and vision. His contact balance and explosiveness were impressive too on his way to 117 total yards.
  1. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (29)

  • This is a huge jump for Calvin Ridley and it was hard not to put him higher. Ridley was dominant against the Saints with seven grabs for 146 yards and three TDs. His stop-start ability, smooth release, and explosiveness after the catch were elite. He looked like Stefon Diggs beating DBs in every way and making great ball adjustments.
  1. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills (16)

  • Quietly up in Buffalo, Tremaine Edmunds has been every bit as good as expected. He and Matt Milano are one of the best young LB duos in the NFL. Edmunds range and tackling helped keep the Vikings gains minimal in the passing game. He had 10 tackles and a TFL.
  1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (NR)

  • Baker Mayfield has played just over a half of football, but it felt wrong putting him any lower than this. He won the Browns a football game and looked magnificent doing it. He was ripping the ball and attacking the middle of the field. The quick decision making and downfield throws were impressive. His one deep shot to Antonio Callaway that was dropped was the best throw a rookie has made this season.
  1. Harold Landry, EDGE, Tennessee Titans (26)

  • Even though it hasn’t shown in the box score, Harold Landry has been a terror off the edge for the Titans. He’s getting a ton of pressures and effecting plays even if he’s not getting sacks. Against the Jaguars he had a key pressure late that forced a punt. He has a rare ability to dip and bend around the edge.
  1. Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers (20)

  • Carolina has found a pair of corners in James Bradberry and Donte Jackson. The athleticism of Jackson was evident against the Bengals. He was glued to John Ross all game. Jackson has a knack for making big plays, he picked off Andy Dalton twice.
  1. Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals (9)

  • It was a quieter week for Jessie Bates in the Bengals loss to the Panthers, but he still played well. He showed off his sure tackling ability when coming up. Bates is a nice all-around safety and already looks like the best one the Bengals have.
  1. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos (15)

  • In a tough loss to the Ravens, Bradley Chubb flashed. The power he possesses was a lot for Ronnie Stanley to handle. Chubb bull rushed Stanley to beat him for a sack at one point. He’s also such a clean run defender.
  1. Deadrin Senat, IDL, Atlanta Falcons (10)

  • It’s going to be hard for Deadrin Senat to receive the talk he deserves. He’s not a stat stuffing player, his tape does the talking. Once again Senat controlled the line of scrimmage as a 1-tech. He’s a load against the run with his power and quickness.
  1. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (39)

  • Don’t be surprised when Kerryon Johnson shoots up this list. That is if the Lions stop messing around and make him the bell cow. Kerryon ended the Lions streak of not having a 100-yard rusher at 70 games. He showed off his patients, vision, and contact balance in the Lions upset of the Patriots.
  1. Da’Ron Payne, IDL, Washington (25)

  • Playing nose tackle isn’t a sexy position and it’s not for guys looking for big stats. Da’Ron Payne has been a game changer as nose for Washington. He anchored the D-line vs the Packers eating up space and even had a sack.
  1. Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears (28)

  • The Bears front seven is one of the best in the league this season. Roquan Smith fits right in with his athleticism and aggressive style. Against the Cardinals he helped bottle up David Johnson with four tackles and a TFL.
  1. Kyzir White, LB, Los Angeles Chargers (17)

  • It wasn’t as flashy a game for Kyzir White this week, but he was promising. It’s hard to find LBs with his combination of athleticism and aggressiveness, the common combo for the LBs on this list. White made a bunch of big hits vs the Rams and had seven tackles and a TFL.
  1. Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens (32)

  • With CJ Mosley injured, rookie Kenny Young has been playing a lot and been surprisingly impressive. Young is a super athlete and showed great range against the Broncos with 10 tackles. He might be a future full-time starter the way he has played.
  1. Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (48)

  • Out of nowhere the Colts have a D-line. Margus Hunt, Jabaal Sheard, and rookie Kemoko Turay are the reason why. Against the Eagles Turay showed impressive athleticism on the edge. His motor made a big difference too on his way to 1.5 sacks.
  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Miami Dolphins (7)

  2. BJ Hill, IDL, New York Giants (31)

  3. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (8)

  4. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos (23)

  5. Will Hernandez, OG, New York Giants (34)

  6. Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals (27)

  7. Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns (18)

  8. Michael Dickson, P, Seattle Seahawks (11)

  9. Mike Hughes, CB, Minnesota Vikings (13)

  10. Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (12)

  11. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets (19)

  12. Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks (14)

  13. Connor Williams, OG, Dallas Cowboys (23)

  14. Desmond Harrison, OT, Cleveland Browns (43)

  15. Josh Jackson, CB, Green Bay Packers (23)

  16. Antonio Callaway, WR, Cleveland Browns (30)

  17. Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers (21)

  18. Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (36)

  19. Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears (38)

  20. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys (NR)

  21. JK Scott, P, Green Bay Packers (NR)

  22. Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills (NR)

  23. Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, New England Patriots (41)

  24. Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (NR)

  25. Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (NR)

  26. Frank Ragnow, OG, Detroit Lions (NR)

  27. Lorenzo Carter, EDGE, New York Giants (NR)

  28. Justin Reid, DB, Houston Texans (33)

  29. Justin Jones, IDL, Los Angeles Chargers (46)

  30. Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (44)

Start the Rook

This Week:

Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers

  • This worst has happened to the 49ers. They’ve lost franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo for the season with a torn ACL. They’ll be relying on second-year QB CJ Beathard and their playoff hopes are likely dead. This is a chance for them to play some younger guys and look forward to next season. The 49ers have had inconsistent play at WR so far this season so why not start second-round pick Dante Pettis. We’ve seen flashes with Pettis. His release and route running are some of the best you’ll see from a rookie. He can play in the slot or on the outside. Pettis is the QBs best friend type of WR. Always working himself open, creating YAC, and making terrific ball adjustments. It’s time to see how good Pettis can be.

Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals

  • When rookie QB Josh Rosen entered the game vs the Bears it was a tough situation, but there was some good. He had an instant chemistry with fellow rookie Christian Kirk. Rosen targeted Kirk three times in his seven passes, completing two of them for 19 yards. Those aren’t big numbers, but they play like they trust each other. With that in mind, the Cardinals season is also essentially lost. So again, why not play the young guy? Kirk has great YAC ability, trustworthy hands, and is an effective 3rd down target. He’s built to play in the slot, but can play outside with Larry Fitzgerald in the slot. Might as well ride with Kirk, Fitz, and Chad Williams.

Justin Reid, DB, Houston Texans

  • The Texans are full of issues right now. One of those issues is the play of the secondary. Outside of Tyrann Mathieu, the starters have been inconsistent at best. Houston’s first pick didn’t come until the third-round and they spent it on Justin Reid. Reid is a big, versatile, athletic DB who can play anything from corner to box safety. With the play of the Texans secondary right now, they need to find a spot for Reid. At Stanford he played a ton of nickel, some free safety, and a bit of outside corner. There’s clearly somewhere for Reid to contribute on this defense.

Previous Weeks:

  • Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions
  • DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers
  • Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns
  • Mike Hughes, CB, Minnesota Vikings
  • Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals
  • Uchenna Nwosu, LB, Los Angeles Chargers

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Author Details
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.
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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.

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