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 13 weeks in the books.
1. New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley: The No. 2 overall pick out of Penn State has recorded 100-plus scrimmage yards in 11 of his first 12 NFL games, adding 12 touchdowns for a team with a 4-8 record. He’s running away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
2. Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard: The tackle machine out of South Carolina State still leads the NFL in that category, and he played superbly in a great defensive effort Sunday against the Jaguars, but he’s starting to feel heat.
3. Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch: The No. 19 overall selection out of Boise State might have been the best player on the field in Dallas’ shocking Week 13 victory over the New Orleans Saints. He has an incredible 103 tackles on 557 snaps.
4. Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James: The No. 17 overall pick out of Florida State was once again all over the field in a huge Chargers victory Sunday night in Pittsburgh. He has 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, six quarterback hits, 12 passes defensed, and 81 tackles as a consistent force in the L.A. secondary.
5. Colts G Quenton Nelson: The already-dominant No. 6 overall pick out of Notre Dame wasn’t at his best Sunday in Jacksonville, but he still deserves Pro Bowl attention.
6. Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay: The undrafted Colorado product ranks No. 1 in the NFL by a huge margin with a 5.8 yards-per-attempt average, and that number is at 7.8 during Denver’s current three-game winning streak. He’s also chipped in with nine touchdowns. How the hell was the dude not drafted?
7. Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield: The No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma was red-hot before turning into a bit of a pumpkin with a three-interception showing Sunday in Houston. But he’s still light years ahead of every other first-year quarterback.
8. Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb: The No. 5 overall pick out of North Carolina State hasn’t been consistent, but he’s got 10 sacks in 12 games and is just 1.5 back of the rookie record of 11.5.
9. Carolina Panthers WR D.J. Moore: The 21-year-old first-round pick out of Maryland has caught 75 percent of the passes thrown his way for 609 yards, with much of that coming during a current hot stretch.
10. Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley: Hard to deny a rookie with eight touchdown receptions, but this is a bit of a default spot right now.
Honorable mentions: Detroit Lions DT Da’Shawn Hand, Browns RB Nick Chubb, 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