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 four weeks in the books.
1. Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James: The No. 17 overall pick out of Florida State already has three sacks, an interception, six passes defended and 26 tackles. “He’s been great,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said of James this week, per the team’s website. “He has the demeanor, and he’s made the plays obviously, but he has the demeanor of one of those double-digit year safeties. That’s what he is. He will ascend in a hurry to that kind of role. That’s just his demeanor [with] the way he plays, the passion he has and the aggression he plays with. He was a heck of a pick. I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Chargers S Derwin James has 3.0 sacks in four games. That’s more than any safety had during the entire 2017 season. Playmaker.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 1, 2018
2. Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley: The No. 26 overall selection out of Alabama wasn’t even targeted in Week 1, but he’s now tied for the NFL lead with six touchdowns. No other rookie has more than three.
3. Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard: The second-round selection out of South Carolina State picked up another sack in a 13-tackle performance against the Texans. He leads the NFL with 54 tackles in just four games.
4. New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley: The No. 2 overall pick out of Penn State ranks eight in the NFL with 453 scrimmage yards. He’s also scored three times in four games and has a solid yards-per-attempt average of 4.6.
5. Denver Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay: The undrafted Colorado product ranks third in the NFL with a 5.9 yards-per-attempt average. He’s also scored twice.
6. Detroit Lions RB Kerryon Johnson: The second-round Auburn product followed up an historic 101-yard game against the Patriots with a solid 6.1 yards-per-attempt average despite receiving just nine carries in Dallas. But he also scored the first touchdown of his NFL career.
7. Giants G Will Hernandez: Per Pro Football Focus, the second-round pick out of UTEP “hasn’t allowed a sack, hit or hurry on 82 pass blocking snaps over the past two games.” He’s on track to make the Pro Bowl as a rook.
8. Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield: Back to earth as a result of some killer mistakes in his first NFL start, but Mayfield still nearly led the Browns to a road victory. The No. 1 overall pick is the highest-rated rookie passer in football.
9. Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander: The No. 18 overall pick out of Louisville was nearly perfect in coverage while also picking up his first career interception against the Bills. He’s off to a hell of a start.
10. Cincinnati Bengals S Jessie Bates: The second-round pick out of Wake Forest has eight tackles in three of his four games, and he intercepted a pass in the other one.
Honorable mentions: San Francisco 49ers LB Fred Warner, Carolina Panthers CB Donte Jackson, Browns CB Denzel Ward, Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb, New York Jets QB Sam Darnold, Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen