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 16 weeks in the books.
1. Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard: Nine more tackles in a strong performance against the Giants and the second-round pick out of South Carolina State now has a league-high (by a wide margin) 155 tackles over the season.
2. Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield: The No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma has a 115.2 passer rating and five wins in his last six games. His overall numbers are also superb, and they don’t do justice to the impact he’s made in Cleveland this season, giving the Browns a chance for a winning record after a winless season last year.
3. New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley: The No. 2 overall pick out of Penn State has seemingly hit a rookie wall the last two weeks, with just 2.1 yards per carry and 133 total yards from scrimmage. But he remains the league’s third-leading rusher. It’ll come down to him or Mayfield for offensive rookie of the year honors.
4. Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch: After a massive performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the first-rounder out of Boise State now ranks third in the league in tackles despite having started only 10 games.
5. Indianapolis Colts G Quenton Nelson: The No. 6 overall pick out of Notre Dame hasn’t given up a sack since the first month of the season, and he was absolutely dominant in a Week 16 victory over the Giants. He’s already a star-level interior offensive lineman.
6. Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James: The No. 17 overall pick out of Florida State didn’t have his best performance in a tough loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Still, he has 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, six quarterback hits, 13 passes defended, and 99 tackles as a steady force in the L.A. secondary.
7. Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay: Among NFL players with at least 150 carries, the undrafted Colorado product leads ranks No. 1 with a 5.4 yards-per-attempt average.
8. Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb: Lindsay’s 5.4 mark is just ahead of Chubb’s 5.3, which ranks second in that category. The second-rounder out of Georgia has 212 rushing yards the last two weeks.
9. Indianapolis Colts OT Braden Smith: The second-round Auburn product doesn’t attract as much hype or attention as Nelson, but he’s been killing it on the right side of that revamped Indy line and has gotten better over the course of the season.
10. Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley: The first-rounder out of Alabama leads all rookies with 789 receiving yards and nine touchdown grabs.
Honorable mentions: Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb, Lions DT Da’Shawn Hand, Bills QB Josh Allen, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, Browns CB Denzel Ward, Packers CB Jaire Alexander, 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey, Giants G Will Hernandez, Lions RB Kerryon Johnson, Patriots RB Sony Michel, Giants DT B.J. Hill, Saints DE Marcus Davenport