After a great Week 6 in the NFL for the rookie QB class, Week 7 was a letdown as all three rookie starters struggled, some more than others. Luckily, the defensive rookies continued to shine with some Pro Bowl level play. It also seems the Lions have finally found a running back for the first time since Barry Sanders retired in 1999. It’s worth mentioning, the Colts rookie class has been the best by far and you’ll see that reflected in the rookie power rankings.

Rookie of the Week

Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions

  • Well, would you look at that the Detroit Lions have themselves a running back. They still need to relax on the playing time for LeGarrette Blount, but against the Dolphins they finally gave Johnson more than 16 carries. As the true RB1, Johnson gave Miami all sorts of problems running for 158 yards and averaging 8.3 per carry. Johnson didn’t just gash the Dolphins, he also ripped off big runs of 24, 71, 15, and 18 yards. He looked like a future Pro Bowl running back with his rare ability to patiently wait for a hole to develop before exploding through. At one point he even threw Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso to the ground with a vicious stiff arm. Johnson makes this Lions offense so much better. He’s on pace to run for 1,184 yards on 6.4 per carry. Oh yeah, Auburn looks dreadful without him.

Week 7 Rookie Power Rankings

*In brackets is where the rookie ranked last week

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

  • It wasn’t the flashiest game for Derwin James, but it was still a strong performance from the rookie against the Titans in London. Other than coming close, but missing on a pass breakup that went for a decent gain, James played sound football. Not surprisingly, James was constantly finishing around the ball. He made a handful of strong stick tackles and run stops. Of course, he also applied pressure when asked to blitz. James finished with 8 tackles.
  1. Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts (4)

  • The Colts might be 2-5, but this team got a whole lot of things right in the offseason. Frank Reich is the man at head coach and their rookie class has been ridiculous. The star of that rookie class continues to be Darius Leonard. This dude was everywhere against the Bills. Per usual against the pass Leonard was eating all of the shallow crossing routes in front of him. He owns the off-ball Tampa 2 LB role. Against the run he was even better with at least five major run stops. His speed, motor, and aggressiveness is something the Colts have never had at LB. He finished with 17 tackles, 1 TFL, and a forced fumble.
  1. Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns (3)

  • It’s almost become a given that Denzel Ward is going to play high-end football every week for the Browns. It’s hard for rookie CBs to adjust to the NFL, but he’s done it quickly. Taking on a great trio of Tampa Bay WRs, Ward was the Browns only CB capable in coverage. He broke up two passes and showed off impressive downfield coverage. Ward has also been an extremely impressive run defender and tackler as a CB. He had a run stop and TFL.
  1. Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers (9)

  • One of the biggest steals of the draft has been Panthers rookie CB Donte Jackson. Yet again Jackson was the Panthers best player in their secondary. He shutdown everything thrown his way. The twitchiness he has allows him to react so quickly to plays in front of him. With his skill set he’s been perfect in the Panthers cover 2 system. He might lack size, but he’s played physical football every week.
  1. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants (2)

  • Games like this should be expected from Saquon Barkley, especially with the offensive line he’s stuck playing behind. He’s a boom or bust runner. Meaning he’ll try to make something happen when there’s nothing there and it’ll either be great or terrible. The great runs are what makes him special. Ultimately, he was held to 94 total yards on 23 touches. He’s a rare talent and his ability as a pass catcher is elite for a running back. Once this team gets a QB and an improved O-line, watch out.
  1. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills (6)

  • It couldn’t have been a worse day for the Bills in their loss to the Colts. On the bright side their rookie LB Tremaine Edmunds continued his impressive rookie campaign. He isn’t getting the hype of Darius Leonard or Fred Warner, but he’s played like a future Pro Bowl player. The sideline-to-sideline speed helped him make plays against running backs and cover downfield. He had a few run stops and showed that his instincts are improving each week. His smoothness to drop into coverage at his size is scary. Edmunds finished with 7 tackles, 1 PBU, and a QB hit.
  1. Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals (7)

  • It was pretty much all bad for the Bengals in their 45-10 Sunday Night Football loss to the Chiefs. Their defense couldn’t stop Patrick Mahomes and nobody was making splash plays. Jessie Bates was solid, though. He’s consistently coming up and making plays against the run for the Bengals when the front 7 isn’t. Bates made a handful of tackles and has shown improved consistency with tackling as a rookie.
  1. Deadrin Senat, IDL, Atlanta Falcons (14)

  • There might not be a better young duo of interior defensive linemen in the NFL than Grady Jarrett and Deadrin Senat. A big reason Saquon Barkley couldn’t get anything going on the ground against the Falcons was because Senat controlled the line of scrimmage. The way he has the leverage and strength to eat up space, but the quickness and motor to make plays against the run is awesome. Senat is becoming one of the best young run defenders in football.
  1. Fred Warner, LB, San Francisco 49ers (12)

  • In an awful game for the 49ers one of their best players was rookie linebacker Fred Warner. Warner made multiple run stops and never stopped playing hard. He flies around with aggression and instincts needed to be an NFL LB. Warner also looked good when dropping into coverage, he’s a complete LB. He finished with 9 tackles, leading the team.
  1. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Detroit Lions (22)

  • This week’s rookie of the week was unstoppable against the Dolphins. He gave the Lions run game a new identity with his patients, burst, and contact balance. Kerryon Johnson is going to be Detroit’s starting running back for along time.
  1. Quenton Nelson, OG, Indianapolis Colts (13)

  • For the first time this season the Colts running game dominated. Their running backs combined for 219 yards and averaged 7.3 per carry. The Colts offensive line deserves a ton of credit for that performance. Quenton Nelson was dominating as a run blocker. His ability to pull and end lives as a lead blocker is scary. He also had one of his better days in pass pro with his hands locked into anybody in front of him. This looks like the most talented Colts O-line of the decade.
  1. Bradley Chubb, EDGE, Denver Broncos (21)

  • In his last two games Bradley Chubb has 5 sacks. That’s pretty incredible for a rookie. Chubb and Von Miller beat up on fellow rookie Josh Rosen on Thursday Night Football and it was impressive. He benefitted from the Cardinals being so worried about Miller, but showed heavy hands and power while rushing the passer. Against the run he consistently set the edge and showed why he’s a complete edge player. He finished with 3 tackles, 3 pressures, 3 QB hits, and 2 sacks.
  1. Da’Ron Payne, IDL, Washington (17)

  • It’s not a glamourous life being a nose tackle, but Da’Ron Payne has been a glamourous rookie for Washington. Like Deadrin Senat, the stats don’t do justice to what Payne does on the field. Payne had just 4 tackles, 1 QB hit, and a PBU, but he was a major reason Washington held Zeke Elliott to a season low 33 rushing yards. Payne anchored the Washington run defense all game.
  1. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys (8)

  • The Cowboys defense struggled with Adrian Peterson and the Washington O-line in their 20-17 loss. Leighton Vander Esch had one of his quieter games. LVE finished with just 4 tackles and struggled to shed blocks. He still showed flashes of improving instincts, but he’s going to take more time to develop. The ceiling is so high with him because of his athleticism, size, and playing style.
  1. Baker Mayfield, QB, Cleveland Browns (5)

  • It wasn’t a great game from Baker Mayfield in the Browns OT loss to the Buccaneers. Mayfield forced a few throws into heavy coverage and was struggling with ball placement throughout the game. Before the half in Tampa’s end he scrambled on a 4th and 2 and ended up fumbling. Some positives were, he didn’t seam to get rattled in the pocket and was moving around well to avoid pressure. The numbers were solid, throwing for 215 yards and two scores.
  1. Harold Landry, EDGE, Tennessee Titans (10)

  • With Harold Landry still playing behind Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan sometimes it seems hard for him to get into a rhythm. Against the Chargers it was one of his quietest games of the season. He only had 2 tackles and one clear pressure. Landry has the skill set to get double digit sacks in future seasons, but right now he’s just a situational pass rusher. The Titans should consider getting him on the field a little more frequently.
  1. Phillip Lindsay, RB, Denver Broncos (23)

  • With Royce Freeman being ineffective and getting injured Phillip Lindsay played his most snaps all season. He stepped up in the bigger role running for 90 yards and a score on 6.4 yards per carry. His quickness to hit a hole and burst through is something this Broncos offense needs. Despite being undersize he runs so hard and it makes up for his stature. The elusiveness and contact balance help make him a starting RB even though he might not look like one.
  1. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Miami Dolphins (18)

  • Obviously it was a tough day for the Miami defense with Kerryon Johnson’s performance. Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t make splashy plays and missed a tackle, but other than that he was solid. He’s physical in coverage and did a good job on Golden Tate when asked to cover him. Fitzpatrick also made a run stop. Miami needs to get more creative with him still.
  1. Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Indianapolis Colts (32)

  • One of the best rookie seasons that’s not being talked about has come from Colts edge rusher Kemoko Turay. He had maybe his best game of the season against the Bills. He broke out his spin move a few times and one ended in a strip sack that went for a Colts TD. Turay used it a few other times to apply pressure and had 3 QB hits. Turay is a big athletic pass rusher with a high-ceiling.
  1. BJ Hill, IDL, New York Giants (35)

  • The Giants are tanking and that’s why they traded Snacks Harrison, but also the emergence of BJ Hill probably pushed them to go through with the trade. Hill has been a strong run defender for them all season and just needs more playing time. He helped stuff the run against the Falcons and had a few run stops and a TFL. Hill can own the nose tackle spot for this young team.
  1. Calvin Ridley, WR, (11)

  2. Sam Darnold, QB, New York Jets (15)

  3. Will Hernandez, OG, New York Giants (19)

  4. Roquan Smith, LB, Chicago Bears (24)

  5. Sony Michel, RB, New England Patriots (20)

  6. Maurice Hurst Jr., IDL, Oakland Raiders (25)

  7. Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals (16)

  8. Braden Smith, OT, Indianapolis Colts (42)

  9. Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos (30)

  10. Taron Johnson, CB, Buffalo Bills (28)

  11. Genard Avery, EDGE/LB, Cleveland Browns (31)

  12. Da’Shawn Hand, IDL, Detroit Lions (36)

  13. Sam Hubbard, EDGE, Cincinnati Bengals (26)

  14. Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos (29)

  15. Keke Coutee, WR, Houston Texans (27)

  16. Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts (43)

  17. Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals (33)

  18. Josh Jackson, CB, Green Bay Packers (34)

  19. Jerome Baker, LB, Miami Dolphins (37)

  20. Ito Smith, RB, Atlanta Falcons (38)

  21. Mike McGlinchey, OT, San Francisco 49ers (40)

  22. Kenny Young, LB, Baltimore Ravens (44)

  23. Brian O’Neil, OT, Minnesota Vikings (50)

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

  25. Ronnie Harrison, S, Jacksonville Jaguars (NR)

  26. Bilal Nichols, IDL, Chicago Bears (NR)

  27. Chris Herndon, TE, New York Jets (NR)

  28. Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys (NR)

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

  30. Michael Dickson, P, Seattle Seahawks (39)

Start the Rook

This Week:

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • It’s no secret the Buccaneers can’t run the ball at all. Despite having all kinds of pass catching weapons, having zero run game is hurting their offense big time. They currently sit at 29th in the league with 85.5 rushing yards per game and 30th in rushing offense DVOA. At this point they should turn to 2nd-round rookie RB Ronald Jones. After a rough preseason he’s slowly seen more and more playing time each week. Jones had a ton of positives coming out of USC with elite quickness and elusiveness. He was even compared to players like Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy. It might take awhile to show, but Jones has the best skill set of any Buccaneers runner. It’s time they find out what they have with him.

Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Kansas City Chiefs

  • As fun as the Chiefs are to watch on offense, their defense is mind-numbingly bad. They’re currently 26th in defensive DVOA and dead last in defensive run DVOA. Right now their offense is doing a great job making up for that, but they’ll need to be better against top teams. Something that sticks out is the lack of athleticism in starting linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland. Both are run-stopping backers who get exposed in coverage. Luckily, in the 3rd-round the Chiefs drafted Dorian O’Daniel. This season O’Daniel is starting to take on the role of nickel linebacker and doing a good job. He looks like a big safety, but the lack of size doesn’t hurt him. Start this kid. He can hang in coverage and flies around the field against the run.

Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys

  • So the Cowboys gave up a 1st-round pick for Raiders WR Amari Cooper. It was too much to give up for Cooper, but it helps this weak pass catching group in Dallas. After making that trade and with Michael Gallup coming off his best game of the season, it’s a good time to get him involved more and even start him. Having Cooper as their X, Cole Beasley in the slot, and Gallup at the Z spot this Cowboys receiver group is a lot more interesting. Gallup is built well at 6-1, 205 pounds and has consistent and trustworthy hands. He’s not the best athlete in the world, but he’s good enough and brings some YAC ability to the table. The addition of Cooper takes pressure of Gallup when he’s in the lineup. This situation is a lot better for Gallup to enter the starting lineup, now.

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
  • 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

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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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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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