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NFL Rookie Power Rankings for Preseason Week 1

Ryan RiddleCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2013

NFL Rookie Power Rankings for Preseason Week 1

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    With the first full week of preseason games ready to commence, it seemed a good time to reveal the 25 best rookies heading into Week 1.

    Just as with most weekly power rankings, this list is expected to change somewhat from week-to-week as the best NFL rookies separate from the crowd. Some of the names here may be gone next week and replaced by some outstanding “rookie risers” from the developing preseason action.

    To start the list of top rookies off properly, only those who were ranked in the top-100 of my pre-draft big board were considered.  The list was then narrowed down to 25 rooks using a numeric grading system based off six key categories. Those categories are as follows: measurables, film review, college production, buzz, early opportunity and overall fit.

    The points from each of these are then added together for a total score, with a maximum of 50 possible points.

    So, without wasting any more time, let’s get to the countdown of the top-25 rookies heading into Week 1.

Explanations:

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    Just to clarify, the foundation for most of my rankings were derived from my annual draft metric, which can be viewed in its entirety at eDraft.com. The link should be able to provide you with a great deal of transparency about my process.

    As for the “Buzz” category, this was determined by reading all of the news and updates I could find using both Google and Twitter. Based on the amount of news and the content of the stories/comments, I gave each player a grade that should reflect how they've performed so far in their brief NFL careers.

    The “Early Opportunity” segment is graded based on where each player stands on the depth chart and what type of reps he's getting in camp. Is he running with the ones or the twos?

    To determine this I mainly resorted to Ourlads.com which has up-to-date depth charts for every team. I also relied on information from various articles while reading about their buzz grade.  

    In order to determine a grade for the “Overall Fit” category I projected how those players’ skills and natural ability would translate into the scheme and system of the team who drafted them. There was also some slight consideration of surrounding talent, coaching staff and available opportunities.

    This system is far from perfect and is sure to stir up some debate and disagreement (especially for Vikings fans).

25. DE, Devin Taylor, Detroit Lions

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    Measurables: 8.1/10

    Film Review: 13.4/20

    College Production: 4.3/5

    Buzz: 3.8/5

    Early Opportunity: 2.7/5

    Overall Fit: 3.8/5

    Total: 36.1/50

    Don't be surprised if Devin Taylor ascends up the depth chart this August and outplays his first-round teammate Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah. 

24. DL, Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets

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    Measurables: 6.3/10

    Film Review: 16.2/20

    College Production: 4.1/5

    Buzz: 3.2/5

    Early Opportunity: 4/5

    Overall Fit: 2.7/5

    Total: 36.5/50

    I'm a big fan of Sheldon Richardson and fully expect him to move up in the power rankings as time goes by. He has had a pretty quiet training camp thus far and is not the best fit for the Jets defensive front. 

    However, playmakers of his caliber are not kept quiet for long. 

    Richardson is a top-10 rookie this year.

23. DB, David Amerson, Washington Redskins

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    Measurables: 6.9/10

    Film Review: 14.9/20

    College Production: 4/5

    Buzz: 4/5

    Early Opportunity: 4/5

    Overall Fit: 3.4/5

    Total: 37.2/50

    David Amerson is a sensational "ballhawk" who has made the most of his opportunities in Washington. 

    He has the potential to be a big star in this league. 

22. WR, Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Measurables: 6.7/10

    Film Review: 14.6/20

    College Production: 3.7/5

    Buzz: 4.7/5

    Early Opportunity: 3/5

    Overall Fit: 4.5/5

    Total: 37.2/50

    Markus Wheaton is the complete package at wide receiver. The Steelers need him to contribute early and often. I believe he will deliver in a big way. 

21. DB, Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals

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    Measurables: 5.2/10

    Film Review: 15/20

    College Production: 4.5/5

    Buzz: 5/5

    Early Opportunity: 3.8/5

    Overall Fit: 4/5

    Total: 37.5/50

    This little shrimp of a man may be the most dynamic playmaker of the 2013 rookie class! His instincts cannot be coached, nor measured. 

20. OLB, Barkevious Mingo, Cleveland Browns

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    Measurables: 7.4/10

    Film Review: 15/20

    College Production: 3.9/5

    Buzz: 3.9/5

    Early Opportunity: 3.3/5

    Overall Fit: 4.2/5

    Total: 37.7/50

    Barkevious Mingo is the most explosive pass rusher in this rookie class. He needs to complete his game before he can become a full-time starter and a true force in the NFL.

19. LB, Jamie Collins, New England Patriots

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    Measurables: 7.4/10

    Film Review: 15.1/20

    College Production: 4.4/5

    Buzz: 4.7/5

    Early Opportunity: 2/5

    Overall Fit: 4.2/5

    Total: 37.8/50

    Pretty soon everyone will know who Jamie Collins is. This versatile athlete happens to be one of my favorite players in this year's class from either side of the ball.

    Don't believe me? I have him ranked third overall on my big board. 

18. OT, Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Measurables: 6.8/10

    Film Review: 15.1/20

    College Production: 3.6/5

    Buzz: 2.8/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.9/5

    Overall Fit: 5/5

    Total: 38.2/50

    Eric Fisher is a prototype NFL offensive tackle, he just needs some time to develop his game. It shouldn't take long before he gets it.

17. RB, Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks

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    Measurables: 9.1/10

    Film Review: 15.2/20

    College Production: 3/5

    Buzz: 4.3/5

    Early Opportunity: 2.7/5

    Overall Fit: 4/5

    Total: 38.3/50

    Right now Christine Michael is listed third on the depth chart. I fully expect him to overtake Robert Turbin for the No. 2 running back spot before the regular season. 

    Eventually he will take over for Marshawn Lynch as well. 

16. QB, Geno Smith, New York Jets

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    Measurables: 7/10

    Film Review: 15.3/20

    College Production: 4.3/5

    Buzz: 3.7/5

    Early Opportunity: 4/5

    Overall Fit: 4/5

    Total: 38.3/50

    Head Coach Rex Ryan has nothing to lose this season—except maybe his job. So it makes sense to see what rookie quarterback Geno Smith can do for the Jets' abysmal offense.  

15. RB, Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Measurables: 7.4/10

    Film Review: 14.4/20

    College Production: 3.4/5

    Buzz: 4.2/5

    Early Opportunity: 4/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 38.3/50

    He's big, he's strong, he's fast, he's athletic. Le'Veon Bell should be the starting running back for the Steelers by Week 1 of the regular season. 

14. OG, Jonathan Cooper, Arizona Cardinals

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    Measurables: 5.2/10

    Film Review: 16.2/20

    College Production: 4.2/5

    Buzz: 3/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.8/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 38.3/50

    Cooper has much more upside than Chance Warmack and he is currently a more complete player. He will be a much needed upgrade from the Cardinals' horrendous offensive line of a year ago. 

13. CB, Dwayne Gratz, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Measurables: 6.86/10

    Film Review: 13.5/20

    College Production: 4.2/5

    Buzz: 4/5

    Early Opportunity: 5/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 38.5/50

    One of the most physically gifted cornerbacks in this year's draft. Should help the Jaguars immediately. 

12. QB, EJ Manuel, Buffalo Bills

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    Measurables: 6.8/10

    Film Review: 15.4/20

    College Production: 4.1/5

    Buzz: 3.6/5

    Early Opportunity: 4/5

    Overall Fit: 4.6/5

    Total: 38.5/50

    In a poor crop of rookie QBs, EJ really is the best of them. There will be some growing pains early, but expect him to flash franchise potential right away. 

11. DE, Datone Jones, Green Bay Packers

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    Measurables: 6.4/10

    Film Review: 15/20

    College Production: 3.6/5

    Buzz: 4/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.9/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 38.8/50

    Datone Jones will be a solid starter for the Packers defense for years to come. His combination of strength and speed will give opposing offenses fits.  

10. OT, Luke Joeckel, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Measurables: 5.8/10

    Film Review: 16.4/20

    College Production: 4.2/5

    Buzz: 4/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.8/5

    Overall Fit: 3.8/5

    Total: 39/50

    Luke Joeckel is the more NFL-ready lineman between he and Eric Fisher. I think he was the best offensive lineman drafted in the last two years. 

9. Safety, Jonathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Measurables: 5.7/10

    Film Review: 15/20

    College Production: 4.7/5

    Buzz: 3.9/5

    Early Opportunity: 5/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 39.2/50

    Jaguars fans have a lot to be excited about in this big-time player with small-school roots. 

    Can you believe he's the third Jaguar to make the list?

    No, I'm not a Jaguars fan. 

8. DT, Star Lotulelei, Carolina Panthers

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    Measurables: 5.4/10

    Film Review: 16.4/20

    College Production: 4/5

    Buzz: 3.7/5

    Early Opportunity: 5/5

    Overall Fit: 4.8/5

    Total: 39.3/50

    If you want to clog up the middle of a defense, you draft Star Lotulelei. The combination of Star and Luke Kuechly developing together on defense should be fun to watch in Carolina. 

7. WR, DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans

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    Measurables: 6/10

    Film Review: 15.1/20

    College Production: 3.7/5

    Buzz: 4.8/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.9/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 39.4/50

    DeAndre Hopkins was the most NFL-ready WR in this draft and will need to be a quick study. He will play a critical role in the Texans' quest for a Super Bowl. 

6. CB, Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons

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    Measurables: 6.9/10

    Film Review: 15.2/20

    College Production: 4.2/5

    Buzz: 3.6/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.7/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 39.5/50

    Cocky cornerbacks are usually the most promising ones. This kid has enough confidence for the entire Falcons secondary. 

5. Safety, Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints

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    Measurables: 6.6/10

    Film Review: 15.2/20

    College Production: 4.5/5

    Buzz: 3.9/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.6/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 39.7/50

    Kenny Vaccaro is a top five player on my board and so it's only right that he makes the top five in these power rankings. 

    This kid is the complete package!

4. LB, Manti Te'o, San Diego Chargers

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    Measurables: 5.9/10

    Film Review: 15.3/20

    College Production: 4.6/5

    Buzz: 4.1/5

    Early Opportunity: 5/5

    Overall Fit: 5/5

    Total: 39.9/50

    Antics aside, there's still a very good football player underneath all the tabloids. San Diego is a perfect fit for Manti Te'o. Expect him to have a thriving NFL career.  

3. CB, Dee Milliner, New York Jets

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    Measurables: 6.1/10

    Film Review: 15.9/20

    College Production: 4.1/5

    Buzz: 4.2/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.9/5

    Overall Fit: 4.8/5

    Total: 40/50

    Milliner is fortunate to land in a Rex Ryan system. He will be given everything he needs to succeed. 

2. WR, Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams

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    Measurables: 6.6/10

    Film Review: 15.8/20

    College Production: 5/5

    Buzz: 4.6/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.8/5

    Overall Fit: 4.9/5

    Total: 41.7/50

    Tavon Austin may be small but he can play this game like few people ever have. His explosion and quickness are off the charts. 

1. TE, Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Measurables: 6.9/10

    Film Review: 16.4/20

    College Production: 4.1/5

    Buzz: 5/5

    Early Opportunity: 4.8/5

    Overall Fit: 4.5/5

    Total: 41.7/50

    The No. 1 guy on the list is also my favorite player from this rookie class. He will soon be a household name across the nation.

    I think I'll go out and buy a Tyler Eifert jersey.

    Ryan Riddle is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a contributor to Footballguys.com. Before B/R, Ryan played at the University of California. Afterward, he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders and spent time with the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Avengers.  

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