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 six weeks in the books.
1. Los Angeles Chargers S Derwin James: The No. 17 overall pick out of Florida State picked up half a sack and five more tackles in an impressive Week 6 victory. He’s the highest-graded rookie at Pro Football Focus.
2. New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley: The No. 2 overall pick out of Penn State picked up 229 yards from scrimmage in Week 6, bringing his 2018 total to 811. That ranks second in the NFL. He’s the only player in football with 300 rushing yards and 300 receiving yards, and he’ll easily be above 400 in both areas after this week.
3. Cleveland Browns CB Denzel Ward: The No. 4 overall pick out of Ohio State has disappeared at times this season, but the 21-year-old is tied for the league lead with three interceptions. Arguably more importantly, opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 63.6 on throws into his coverage.
4. Indianapolis Colts LB Darius Leonard: After missing a week due to injury, the second-round selection out of South Carolina State bounced back with nine tackles to retake the league lead with 63.
5. Atlanta Falcons WR Calvin Ridley: The No. 26 overall selection out of Alabama hasn’t done much the last two weeks, but he’s still tied for the NFL lead with six touchdowns. No other rookie has more than three through the air.
6. New England Patriots RB Sony Michel: The No. 31 overall pick out of Georgia has now put together three consecutive games with 100-plus yards from scrimmage. He’s playing a major role on the hottest offense in the league.
7. New York Jets QB Sam Darnold: The No. 3 overall selection out of USC now has three big-time performances under his belt in a six-game span. It’s been a bumpy ride, but he’s the league’s highest-rated rookie passer and the only one with more touchdown passes (nine) than interceptions (seven).
8. Browns QB Baker Mayfield: The No. 1 overall pick out of Oklahoma has often been let down by his supporting cast, but he still looks like a polished franchise quarterback in the making.
9. Dallas Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch: The No. 19 overall pick out of Boise State has started just three games, but he’s one of only 13 players with 50-plus tackles. Only James has a higher PFF grade among this rookie crop.
10. Giants G Will Hernandez: The second-round pick out of UTEP has been a Pro Football Focus standout early in his rookie season at right guard, saving the day for a bad offensive line while paving the way for Barkley.
Honorable mentions: Denver Broncos RBs Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, Cincinnati Bengals S Jessie Bates, Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander, San Francisco 49ers LB Fred Warner, Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Rosen, Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen, Oakland Raiders DT Maurice Hurst, Detroit Lions DT Da’Shawn Hand, Broncos OLB Bradley Chubb, 49ers OT Mike McGlinchey