Throughout the 2018 NFL season, we’re monitoring the progress made by the league’s rookie class by power ranking them based on their play, their circumstances, or both.
Here’s how the rookie crop shakes out with 15 weeks in the books.
1. Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard: Eleven more tackles in a standout performance against the Cowboys and the second-round pick out of South Carolina State now has a league-high (by a wide margin) 146.
2. New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley: The No. 2 overall pick out of Penn State is coming off the worst game of his young career, but he still ranks in the top four in football in terms of both yardage and touchdowns.
3. Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield: The No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma continues to outperform highly-paid veteran quarterbacks and the Browns continue to win games. He isn’t a star just yet, but he will be once he becomes a little more consistent.
4. Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James: The No. 17 overall pick out of Florida State is a huge reason why the Chargers might be the NFL’s best team. He has 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, six quarterback hits, 12 passes defensed, and 93 tackles as a consistent force in the L.A. secondary.
5. Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch: A little bit of shine has come off the last couple weeks, but the first-rounder out of Boise State still ranks sixth in the league in tackles despite having started only nine games. He’ll probably come up short in the defensive rookie of the year race, but the future is blindingly bright.
6. Colts G Quenton Nelson: The dominant No. 6 overall pick out of Notre Dame hasn’t given up a sack since the first month of the season.
7. Denver Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb: The No. 5 overall pick out of North Carolina State leads all rookies with 12 sacks, which is five more than the next guy on the list (Leonard).
8. Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley: The first-rounder out of Alabama leads all rookies with 699 receiving yards and eight touchdown grabs.
9. Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay: He’s struggled the last couple weeks, but only Barkley has more rushing yards among rookie backs. The undrafted Colorado product still leads all qualified rookies with a 5.5 yards-per-attempt average.
10. Browns RB Nick Chubb: A 100-yard performance against the Broncos moves the second-round pick into Lindsay’s rear-view mirror. His strong second half has him positioned to make a run at 1,000 yards, and he’ll likely be a hot fantasy pick come August.
Honorable mentions: Detroit Lions DT Da’Shawn Hand, Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen, Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, Browns CB Denzel Ward, Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander, San Francisco 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey, Giants G Will Hernandez, Lions RB Kerryon Johnson, New England Patriots RB Sony Michel, Giants DT B.J. Hill, New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport
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