The NFL season is already at it’s midway point, meaning a lot of rookies are beginning to take the field. Week 8 was another big week for rookie performances and the defensive rookie class continues to dominate the field. The top six rookies on this week’s power rankings are all defenders and 14 of the top 20 are from the defensive side of the football. Since the NFL is halfway done I’ve included the “NFL Mid-Season All-Rookie Team” this week on top of the rookie of the week, top 50 rookie power rankings, and start the rook.
NFL Mid-Season All-Rookie Team
|QB||Baker Mayfield||Cleveland Browns||1st/1st|
|AP||Saquon Barkley||New York Giants||1st/2nd|
|RB||Phillip Lindsay||Denver Broncos||UDFA|
|RB||Kerryon Johnson||Detroit Lions||2nd/43rd|
|WR||Calvin Ridley||Atlanta Falcons||1st/26th|
|WR||Courtland Sutton||Denver Broncos||2nd/40th|
|WR||Christian Kirk||Arizona Cardinals||2nd/47th|
|TE||Dallas Goedert||Philadelphia Eagles||2nd/49th|
|OT||Mike McGlinchey||San Francisco 49ers||1st/9th|
|OT||Braden Smith||Indianapolis Colts||2nd/37th|
|IOL||Quenton Nelson||Indianapolis Colts||1st/6th|
|IOL||Will Hernandez||New York Giants||2nd/34th|
|IOL||Frank Ragnow||Detroit Lions||1st/20th|
|EDGE||Bradley Chubb||Denver Broncos||1st/5th|
|IDL||Deadrin Senat||Atlanta Falcons||3rd/90th|
|EDGE||Sam Hubbard||Cincinnati Bengals||3rd/77th|
|LB||Darius Leonard||Indianapolis Colts||2nd/36th|
|LB||Fred Warner||San Francisco 49ers||3rd/70th|
|LB||Tremaine Edmunds||Buffalo Bills||1st/16th|
|AP||Derwin James||LA Chargers||1st/17th|
|CB||Denzel Ward||Cleveland Browns||1st/4th|
|NB||Jaire Alexander||Green Bay Packers||1st/18th|
|S||Jessie Bates||Cincinnati Bengals||2nd/54th|
|S||Minkah Fitzpatrick||Miami Dolphins||1st/11th|
|CB||Donte Jackson||Carolina Panthers||2nd/55th|
|K||Jason Sanders||Miami Dolphins||7th/229th|
|P||Michael Dickson||Seattle Seahawks||5th/149th|
|RS||Richie James||San Francisco 49ers||7th/240th|
|ST||Zeke Turner||Arizona Cardinals||UDFA|
Just Missed the Cut-
|LB||Leighton Vander Esch||Dallas Cowboys||1st/19th|
|LB||Roquan Smith||Chicago Bears||1st/8th|
|EDGE||Harold Landry||Tennessee Titans||2nd/41st|
|EDGE||Kemoko Turay||Indianapolis Colts||2nd/52nd|
|IDL||BJ Hill||New York Giants||3rd/69th|
|IDL||Maurice Hurst Jr.||Oakland Raiders||5th/140th|
|QB||Josh Rosen||Arizona Cardinals||1st/10th|
|IDL||Da’Shawn Hand||Detroit Lions||4th/114th|
|RB||Nyheim Hines||Indianapolis Colts||4th/104th|
|DB||Justin Reid||Houston Texans||3rd/68th|
Rookie of the Week
Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers
- The Packers 1st-round pick rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander hadn’t played since September due to a groin injury. In his first game back, a 29-27 loss to the Rams, Alexander was exactly what the Packers and all of Draft Twitter thought he was, a versatile stud at corner. Against the Rams, Alexander had one of the greatest rookie performances from a cornerback, probably ever. He was all over the Rams best WR Brandin Cooks. Alexander ended up with 7 tackles and 5 PBU’s, YES 5 PASS BREAKUPS. His physicality, fluidity, and ability to find the ball was teaching tape for young cornerbacks. Jaire Alexander is most definitely living up to the Chris Harris Jr. pro comparison I gave him.
Week 8 Rookie Power Rankings
*In brackets is where the rookie ranked last week
Derwin James, Defensive Weapon, Los Angeles Chargers (1)
- The Los Angeles Chargers were on their bye week in week 8, but Derwin James remains in the top spot. He’s just been too much of a game changer this season to justify moving him down the list for someone else.
Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts (2)
- It was not a great week by any means for the Colts defense. They gave up 28 points and 7.4 yards per play, but they managed to win. A huge play in the game came with just under 6 minutes left and the Colts leading 35-28. Darius Leonard forced a fumble on Doug Martin and the Colts recovered. Leonard gave the Colts momentum with that play, he’s a game changer. Per usual Leonard was going sideline-to-sideline making plays. He had two major run stops and was all over the underneath routes Oakland was throwing. Leonard once again led the Colts in tackles with 9.
Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns (3)
Derrick Kindred rips it loose and Denzel Ward scoops it up!
- There’s no denying the Browns secondary has struggled in recent weeks. The one player giving consistent play is cornerback Denzel Ward. He didn’t have his best game against the Steelers, but showed a lot of promise as a CB1. Ward’s fluidity to transition from his backpedal to trail coverage is rare. In coverage Ward broke up a pass and was hanging with AB and JuJu for most of the game. He also recovered a fumble on a drive Pittsburgh was likely to score on.
Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers (4)
- The Panthers secondary is the best it’s been in years. Rookie 2nd-round pick Donte Jackson has been a massive upgrade at their CB2 spot. Jackson flies around the field every week making plays. Against the Ravens Jackson was sticky in coverage. His deep man coverage was terrific. The footwork and speed he possesses gives the Panthers someone to cover deep threats at all times. Again this week Jackson showed off impressive physicality. He made some strong tackles, including a big stop on a screen and a sack on a corner blitz.
Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals (7)
- It feels like when everybody looks back at the 2019 NFL Draft we’ll be thinking how did a team not take Jessie Bates in the 1st-round. Bates has been everything the Bengals could have hoped for in a center fielder safety. Once again he was a beast in coverage. Against Tampa Bay, Bates broke up two passes and picked off another. He returned that INT for a score that ended up making a huge difference for the Bengals. Bates made a great read on the ball to jump the route, making it look easy. He’s also been a surprisingly effective tackler too. He had a run stop, a big tackle on a screen pass, and a nice stick tackle on a run that broke the line.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills (6)
- Monday Night Football was supposed to suck. The Patriots were supposed to run right through the Bills. But this game was as close as 9-6 late in the 3rd quarter thanks to the Bills defense. One again the linebacker duo of Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds was the story for Buffalo. Early in the game Edmunds had a freaky PBU over the middle where he mistimed his jump, but his athleticism and length still allowed for him to tip the ball. Edmunds had another big play where he got a TFL on a swing pass. He saw it developing and hit it hard. His explosion is freaky.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (5)
- The situation Saquon Barkley is in is unfair. He has so much ability, but he’s trapped behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL with a QB that nobody fears. It’s hard for him to make an impact consistently on the ground with what’s around him. Against Washington, Barkley ran for just 38 yards on 13 carries. He had about three runs with decent blocking and flashed his explosion through the hole. Often he was getting hit at or behind the line. Barkley is so special because he still effects the game as a pass catcher. He caught 9 passes for 73 yards and was even lining up at WR. His route running and hands are rare for a running back of his size.
Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts (11)
The first guard in @NFL history to win Rookie of the Month!
- All of a sudden the Colts went from a team with a brutal offensive line, no running game, and their second choice at head coach to an offensive juggernaut. Not only has Frank Reich been killing it as HC, but the Colts O-line and running game have been awesome. Quenton Nelson just won rookie of the month for October and deservedly so. He’s injected attitude into this offense. Against Oakland he was punishing as a run blocker, consistently getting to the second level and driving defenders downfield. It’s not a stretch to say Nelson is already one of the best pulling guards in football. The Colts ran for 222 yards thanks to Nelson and the O-line.
Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers (9)
- San Francisco lost 18-15 to Arizona thanks to some Josh Rosen heroics. The drive before Rosen’s game-winning drive the Cardinals fumbled and Fred Warner made a great recovery to put the game away, in theory. Of course it didn’t workout, but Warner had a great game. On top of the recovery, Warner was active against the run. He was constantly sticking his nose in and contributing to run stops. What he did in coverage was more impressive. In zone coverage his fluidity while dropping and awareness of who to pick up was making it difficult on Rosen. Warner isn’t flashy, but he’s becoming great.
Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos (12)
- Yet again the Broncos gave Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs some trouble. The pass rush is the main reason why. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb were getting after Mahomes. It didn’t result in many sacks, but they constantly had Mahomes in a muddy pocket. Chubb used his power and hands to beat the Chiefs tackles. He ended up with two pressures and a half sack. As a run defender he’s already playing at a very high level. Chubb consistently set the edge to keep Kareem Hunt bottled up inside. He also made a great play for a TFL.
Da’Ron Payne, IDL, Washington (13)
- The Washington defensive line of Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Da’Ron Payne is not to be messed with. They have held Christian McCaffrey, Zeke Elliott, and Saquon Barkley to under 100 rushing yards combined over their last three games. Adding Payne to this D-line at nose tackle has been literally huge. Against the Giants, Barkley was shutdown on the ground. Payne anchor the D-line eating up the middle, but did more than just play the run. He was collapsing the pocket as a pass rusher with two pressures and a sack. The use of his bull rush and rip move were getting it done vs the Giants.
Deadrin Senat, IDL, Atlanta Falcons (8)
- The Atlanta Falcons were on their bye week in week 8, but Deadrin Senat is already looking like one of the biggest steals of the draft. Senat has been an anchor on the interior of the Falcons defensive line. His ability to absorb blocks by playing with great strength and leverage combined with his quickness and violent hands to make plays is a huge addition to Atlanta.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys (14)
- The Dallas Cowboys were on their bye week in week 8, but Leighton Vander Esch will probably finish the season top 10 in the power rankings, if not top five. He’s been phenomenal since entering the Cowboys lineup full-time. The reason he was left off of the mid-season All-Rookie team is because of playing time. LVE is a freak with his size and athleticism.
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (17)
- There should be an award for best undrafted rookie each year, Phillip Lindsay would win it this year by a mile. Once again Lindsay was the Broncos leading rusher and one of their most dynamic players. His suddenness and contact balance work so well together and make up for his lack of size. Against the Chiefs, Lindsay ran for 95 yards and a score while averaging 5.3 per carry. His longest run was only 14 yards, meaning he was chunk running all game long.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Miami Dolphins (18)
- The Dolphins secondary was toasted by Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football. Guess who wasn’t toasted, but for some crazy reason played only 54% of the Dolphins snaps, Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’s getting ridiculous how low Fitzpatrick’s usage rate is and how little creativity Matt Burke puts into using such a versatile defender. Twice Fitzpatrick came up with major run stops from the secondary. There are few DBs in this league as good against the run as Fitzpatrick. In coverage he dominated and it makes no sense that he wasn’t playing more.
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (10)
- It wasn’t the best game for the Lions or Kerryon Johnson. He was held to just 22 yards on the ground and the Lions abandoned the run as they fell behind. It’s tough to blame him though, there was rarely any holes for him to hit. The Hawks did a great job in the front 7 at stopping Johnson. For what it’s worth, Johnson once again showed how great a contact runner he is even with nowhere to go. Outside of running he added a nice safety valve for Stafford and showed YAC ability. In pass pro he did a good job for a young back.
Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (NR)
- The only reason Jaire Alexander wasn’t in the rookie power rankings was because he missed the Packers last two games with an injury and they were on their bye week last week. His return to the rankings is mighty hopping all the way into the top 20. Before the injury he was a top 40 rookie and against the Rams he was dominant. If he keeps it up he could be a top 10 rookie very soon. The reason he’s this high is because he’s the rookie of the week and his performance was unbelievable.
Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears (24)
- With all the rookie linebackers having such terrific seasons, Roquan Smith is being slept on a bit. He’s been an impressive rookie for the Bears and had one of his best games of the season against the Jets. Smith had three major run stops including a big TFL. He helped keep the Jets to just 57 yards on the ground. In coverage Smith looked smooth on tight ends and running backs. His instincts and athleticism are going to make him very good for along time.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons (21)
- The Atlanta Falcons were on their bye week in week 8, but there’s no denying Calvin Ridley has been the best rookie WR this season. His release off the line and crisp routes are why he’s having such an instant impact in the NFL. Ridley is the perfect compliment to Julio Jones.
Braden Smith, OT, Indianapolis Colts (28)
- What’s this now? The Colts have two rookie offensive linemen in the top 20? They sure do. Nelson being great isn’t surprising, but the instant impact 2nd-round pick Braden Smith has had at right tackle is crazy. Since entering the starting lineup at right tackle the Colts offensive line has been significantly better. In their last three games the Colts haven’t given up a sack and the team has run for 569 yards. This isn’t something Andrew Luck has ever had before. Smith’s footwork and heavy hand use in pass protection has been fantastic for a rookie. In the run game Smith is a huge athlete and his ability to move and taking on second level players has been an asset.
Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (29)
Harold Landry, EDGE, Tennessee Titans (16)
Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (19)
BJ Hill, IDL, New York Giants (20)
Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals (33)
Maurice Hurst Jr., IDL, Oakland Raiders (26)
Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals (27)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (15)
Da’Shawn Hand, IDL, Detroit Lions (32)
Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (36)
Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers (41)
Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints (NR)
Will Hernandez, OG, New York Giants (23)
Justin Reid, DB, Houston Texans (NR)
Taron Johnson, CB, Buffalo Bills (30)
Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots (25)
Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets (22)
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (37)
Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns (31)
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers (NR)
Brian O’Neil, OT, Minnesota Vikings (43)
Ronnie Harrison, S, Jacksonville Jaguars (45)
Bilal Nichols, IDL, Chicago Bears (46)
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles (49)
James Daniels, OG, Chicago Bears (NR)
Anthony Miller, WR, Chicago Bears (NR)
Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets (47)
Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (40)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Green Bay Packers (NR)
Frank Ragnow, OG, Detroit Lions (44)
Start the Rook
Alex Cappa, OG, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- This might be an out of nowhere rookie to start, but Tampa Bay needs to give Alex Cappa a look. Cappa was the Buccaneers 3rd-round pick (94th overall) out of small Humboldt State. Cappa played tackle in college, but is more likely an NFL guard due to lack of length. The Bucs season is a wash, but their offensive line has been quietly at it’s best in years. One major liability though is right guard Caleb Benenoch. They need to get a look at Cappa soon and this is the perfect opportunity to slide him in at right guard. Cappa has a rare blend of size and nimble footwork for a guard, he’s also a known for throwing guys out of the club, thanks to Mike Mayock.
Avonte Maddox, NB, Philadelphia Eagles
- It’s true Avonte Maddox has been starting a handful of games this season with injuries to Rodney McLeod, Sidney Jones, and Jalen Mills. In those games Maddox has flashed the feistiness that made him many draftnik’s DB crush. Going forward the Eagles plan at corner should be having Sidney Jones move permanently outside and have Maddox be the starting nickel. This is more of a future plan than an in the moment plan with Maddox filling in all over the defensive backfield due to injuries. Maddox might be small, but he’s tough and twitchy, exactly what you want in a starting nickel.
Tarvarius Moore, DB, San Francisco 49ers
Tarvarius Moore shows why the team thinks he can successfully convert to corner. Explosive athleticism to break on the ball and has the length to stretch and get the PBU. pic.twitter.com/ZaDRVSvx9i
— Oscar Aparicio (@BetterRivals) August 19, 2018
- The 49ers went from a popular playoff pick to probably picking top 5 in the 2019 NFL Draft. Instead of wasting time, they should throw their young players in and see what they’ve got. One of those young players is 3rd-round (95th overall) pick Tarvarius Moore. Moore was a late riser out of Southern Miss due to his length, 6-2, and his athleticism, 4.32 40-yard dash, 38 1/8” vert, and 11’ broad jump. He’s a raw prospect, but flashed untapped potential on tape. The 49ers cornerback group has been a mess, other than Richard Sherman, and it’s time to get Moore some snaps there.
- 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
- Dante Pettis, WR, San Francisco 49ers
- Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals
- Justin Reid, DB, Houston Texans
- Marcus Davenport, EDGE, New Orleans Saints
- Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
- Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns
- Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Green Bay Packers
- Rashaan Gaulden, DB, Carolina Panthers
- Braden Smith, OL, Indianapolis Colts
- Arden Key, EDGE, Oakland Raiders
- PJ Hall, IDL, Oakland Raiders
- Damion Ratley, WR, Cleveland Browns
- Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
- Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
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