NFL Week 11 Rookie Rankings: Surveying Rookie Class, Post-Week 10

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyContributor INovember 19, 2015

NFL Week 11 Rookie Rankings: Surveying Rookie Class, Post-Week 10

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The 10th week of the NFL season is in the books, which leaves us more than halfway through the 17-week schedule. Rookies have either carved out a role or are fighting to make an impact before the season ends. Our weekly rookie rankings continue to change based on recent play.

    What is happening in the midst of their first seasons is still a potential indicator of how the next half-decade or so will play out. Players who impact their teams right away generally stick around and continue their positive influences. That shouldn’t take away from those who need more time to develop into solid players, though.

    For this week’s rankings, we take a look at which players have performed the best to this point. Consideration has been given to where each rookie stands on his team’s depth chart, but the rankings aim to reflect how each player has performed thus far compared to what the expectations are. Production per snap is also important, since certain rookies have struggled to be good despite major opportunities.

    Our rankings from even last week are now outdated, as Week 10 featured several standout performances. While some players are hitting their rookie wall, others are starting to hit their stride. Let’s take a look at the best rookies thus far.

Top 50 Overall

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    Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

    As the season continues, we’ll track ascending and descending players. For each week, the listed movement may be somewhat significant, based on playing time given to each rookie. The few rookies who really stood out will rise higher on the top-50 overall list.

    Although the 2015 NFL draft class had significant talent, injuries have put a damper on several campaigns. Teams that were expecting an early impact from their class aren’t necessarily getting the instant gratification from their picks, but it’s important to have patience with young players. We often see players blossom as late as their third or fourth season.

    With 10 weeks of the season in the books, watch for rookies to emerge with a strong second half. Building momentum into next season can change how a franchise will attack the offseason. Also, be on the lookout for struggling teams to start increasing playing time for rookies.

    Top 50 Rankings
    1Todd GurleyRBRams1.101Same
    2Amari CooperWR Raiders1.4 2Same
    3Jameis WinstonQBBuccaneers1.13Same
    4Marcus PetersCBChiefs1.184Same
    5Leonard WilliamsDEJets1.65Same
    6Marcus Mariota  QBTitans1.214Same
    7Vic BeasleyDEFalcons1.87Same 
    8Kevin JohnsonCBTexans1.1615Up
    9Stefon Diggs WRVikings5.109Same
    10Jamison CrowderWRRedskins4.617Up
    11Damarious Randall CB Packers1.3011Same
    12Karlos Williams RBBills5.1912Same
    13Ronald DarbyCB Bills2.1813Same
    14Byron JonesSAFCowboys1.2721Up
    15Jordan HicksLBEagles3.2010Same 
    16Markus GoldenLBCardinals2.2616Same
    17Henry AndersonDE Colts3.6Same
    18Eddie GoldmanDTBears2.718Same
    19Adrian AmosSAF Bears5.6 19 Same
    20Dorial Green-Beckham WRTitans2.820Same
    21Duke Johnson RBBrowns3.1314Down
    22Tre' Jackson OGPatriots4.1222Same
    23Shaq ThompsonLBPanthers1.2523Same
    24Brandon ScherffOGRedskins1.533Up
    25Eric Kendricks LBVikings2.13 25 Same 
    26Rob HavensteinOTRams2.2526Same
    27Benardrick McKinneyLBTexans2.11 N/AUp
    28Ali MarpetOGBuccaneers2.2928Same
    29Tyler Lockett WRSeahawks3.529Same
    30Stephone AnthonyLBSaints1.3130Same
    31Mario Edwards Jr. DERaiders2.3N/AUp
    32Shaquille MasonOGPatriots4.3227Down
    33Justin ColemanCBPatriotsUDFA31Down
    34T.J. YeldonRBJaguars2.418Down 
    35Hau'oli Kikaha LBSaints2.1234Down
    36Jamon BrownOG Rams 3.836 Same 
    37Bobby RichardsonDESaintsUDFA37Same 
    38T.J. ClemmingsOTVikings 4.11 32Down
    39Thomas Rawls RBSeahawks UDFA39Same
    40Mitch MorseCChiefs2.17N/AUp
    41Arik Armstead DE49ers1.1720Same
    42David ParryDTColts5.1529Same
    43Jay AjayiRBDolphins5.13 N/AUp
    44Preston SmithLBRedskins2.644Same
    45Melvin GordonRBChargers1.1545Same
    46Kyshoen Jarrett SAFRedskins6.546Same 
    47Bud DupreeLBSteelers1.22 N/AUp
    48David Andrews CPatriotsUDFAN/AUp
    49Frank Clark DE Seahawks2.31 35Down 
    50Landon Collins SAF Giants2.1 50Same


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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    This rookie quarterback competition has been incredible to watch. The moment it seems one of the quarterbacks creates some separation from the other, the next week features a reversal. Neither quarterback had a noteworthy showing in Week 10, though.

    As usual, Mariota was more efficient in terms of his numbers. The Titans have been more horizontal than the Buccaneers, which plays into the strengths of Mariota. His quick decision-making and sharp accuracy continue to propel belief he will be a good quarterback throughout his career.

    Winston continues to flash moments of brilliance, as well. His four-game interception-less streak ended as he threw two picks in Week 10. But he's making much better decisions on a consistent basis compared to the start of the season. That's tangible progress to build off. 

    Quarterback Rankings
    1Jameis WinstonQBBuccaneers1.11Same
    2Marcus MariotaQBTitans1.22Same
    3Brett HundleyQBPackers5.113Same
    4Garrett GraysonQBSaints3.114Same
    5Bryce PettyQBJets4.45Same

Running Backs

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    Brad Penner/Associated Press

    After several weeks of a two-headed monster at the top of our rankings, the rookie backs had a much stronger showing in Week 10. The depth of the class was in doubt for a few weeks as injuries struck, but several rookies' bigger roles led to more production.

    We have a new face creeping into the top five, but it’s not just about production. Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi doesn’t have the numbers of the others on the outside looking in, but he has been impressive in the last two weeks. He’s averaging 8.1 yards per carry, but it is how he runs that is most outstanding.

    The competition for the fifth spot is deep. We’ve seen Jeremy Langford step up in Chicago, too. Matt Jones’ re-emergence in Week 10 was also a welcomed sight.

    Running Back Rankings
    1Todd GurleyRBRams1.101Same
    2Karlos Williams RB Bills5.192Same
    Duke JohnsonRBBrowns3.133Same
    T.J. Yeldon RBJaguars2.44Same
    Jay AjayiRBDolphins5.13N/AUp

Wide Receivers

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The wide receiver group is seeing some more competition as the weeks pass by. Although we're sticking with the same group of rookies here, this class is becoming deeper as the season wears on. The future continues to look bright as several rookies will be coming off injury next season.

    Several mid-round picks have emerged as legitimate threats within their offenses. On the other hand, some highly drafted receivers have struggled to break into lineups because of injuries or deeper rosters.

    Stefon Diggs continues to play especially well, too. The former Maryland receiver has been Teddy Bridgewater’s top target this season. There’s little doubt those two can be a dynamic tandem for the next half-decade or longer.

    Wide Receiver Rankings
    1Amari CooperWR Raiders1.4Same
    2Stefon DiggsWR Vikings5.102Same
    Jamison CrowderWRRedskins4.64Up
    Dorial Green-BeckhamWRTitans2.83Down
    Tyler Lockett WRSeahawks3.55Same

Tight Ends

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    Gary Hershorn/Associated Press

    We're starting to see the production of the tight end class increase as the weeks pass. There are now four tight ends with more than 100 receiving yards on the season. That's still a low threshold, but at least there is progress. 

    There's no movement this week, although the battle for the top three spots can change drastically moving forward. New York Giants tight end Will Tye leads all rookies in yards, but he is the least well-rounded player. Clive Walford edges him out again because of his rookie-leading three touchdown receptions for Oakland. 

    Blocking ability is a difficult one to account for since it is subjective. But it does seem to me that Maxx Williams is not only the best receiver but also the top blocker. The Ravens have often featured him as an in-line blocker.

    Tight End Rankings
    1Maxx WilliamsTERavens2.231Same
    2Nick BoyleTERavens5.352Same
    3Clive WalfordTERaiders3.43Same
    4Will TyeTEGiantsUDFA4Same
    5James O'Shaughnessy TEChiefs5.375Same

Offensive Tackle

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The rookie offensive tackle class has had a tough time adjusting to the NFL. The first nine weeks haven’t been consistent at all. The same can be said for this ranking.

    Just four rookie tackles started last week due to bye weeks and injuries. Outside of Rob Havenstein, these rookie starters have been among the worst in the NFL. The rookie wall has blasted guys such as T.J. Clemmings and Donovan Smith. 

    The good news for long-term projection is that things get easier after their rookie seasons. A full offseason that features an NFL weight program and coaching should benefit all of these players. Don't forget, these rookies were only focused on preparing for the NFL combine last season, which features few actual on-field events. That's lost developmental time. 

    Offensive Tackle Rankings
    Rob HavensteinOTRams2.251 Same
    2Ereck FlowersOTGiants1.92 Same
    T.J. Clemmings OT Vikings4.113 Same
    Donovan Smith OTBuccaneers2.24 Same
    Jeremiah PoutasiOTTitans3.25 Same

Offensive Guards

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    As a whole, this group played rather well in Week 10. An injury to Ali Marpet has removed one of the best overall performers this season, but his dropping is a testament to the rest of these guards. It's turning out to be quite a solid bunch.

    Guards such as Laken Tomlinson and Brandon Scherff started out slow but have shown improvement throughout the preseason and the first 10 weeks. The upside is clear for each player. Now they must continue to find consistency on a weekly basis. 

    The Patriots' guard combination of Shaquille Mason and Tre' Jackson is proving to be functional and effective. Of course, New England's method of rotating guards is unique, but it does maximize their skill sets. That's an important key to success, even if it's a different way of getting there. 

    Offensive Guard Rankings
    1Laken TomlinsonGLions1.281 Same
    2Tre' JacksonGPatriots4.122 Same
    Brandon ScherffGRedskins1.55 Up
    Shaquille MasonGPatriots4.323 Down
    La'el CollinsGCowboysUDFA4 Down


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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    One of the NFL's more nondescript positions is the offensive center. Rarely do centers have to do the brunt work that a guard or tackle does, but the center is usually the unit's brain. Centers must identify blitzers and the "Mike" linebacker. They’re important.

    But the NFL has a lot of quality centers, and the rookie pool suggests that not many starters were needed. Two players have started every week: Mitch Morse and David Andrews. The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots, respectively, must be happy with their play thus far.

    Andy Gallik is a first-time starter and a new addition to this list. He did not play well, but he’s just the fourth rookie center to earn playing time. At least he has some tape to refer to and work on improving for next week.

    Center Rankings
    1Mitch MorseOCChiefs2.171Same
    2David AndrewsOCPatriotsUDFA2Same
    3Hroniss GrasuOCBears3.73Same
    4Andy GallikOCTitans6.324Same
    5Kristjan SokoliOCSeahawks6.385Same 

Defensive Ends

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Defensive end is arguably the rookie class' most talented and deepest position. Whether in a 4-3 or 3-4 defensive front, you can find the top ends right here. The difficult part is actually ranking this talented group.

    We have some movement as Henry Anderson's torn ACL prematurely ended his season. He had been great this season, and the Indianapolis Colts won’t be able to replace him. Anderson will stay in the top five this week, but he may drop out moving forward.

    One high draft pick continues to climb up the rankings. Mario Edwards Jr. has been building his resume as he becomes more consistent on a weekly basis. His role as an inside rusher is perfect for him. The Raiders must be thrilled that the former Seminole is in great shape and playing well. 

    Defensive End Rankings
    1Leonard WilliamsDEJets1.61 Same
    2Vic BeasleyDEFalcons1.82 Same
    Mario Edwards Jr.DERaiders2.34 Up
    Henry AndersonDEColts3.293 Down
    Bobby RichardsonDESaintsUDFA5 Same 

Defensive Tackle

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Not much has changed for the rookie defensive tackle class. None of the rookies has shown much overall production in terms of stats. But the film has been encouraging for some of them.

    The pure nose tackles have been the best of the bunch so far. Colts tackle David Parry has been a helpful presence while eating double-teams. We can say the same for Arizona Cardinals rookie Rodney Gunter. Especially in multiple-front defenses or purely 3-4 fronts, these nose tackles make everything else possible for their teammates.

    Without a breakout performer, this group continues to feature the same faces this week. Rookies such as Danny Shelton, Michael Bennett and Jordan Philips are lurking right below these five talented rookies. 

    Defensive Tackle Rankings
    1Eddie GoldmanDTBears2.71Same
    2Grady Jarrett DTFalcons5.12Same
    Rodney GunterDTCardinals4.173Same
    David IrvingDTCowboysUDFA4Same
    David Parry DTColts5.155Same


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    Chris Keane/Associated Press

    Whether you’re looking for a 3-4 or 4-3 linebacker, you’ll find the top five right here. Overall, this has been a solid group despite limited playing time for 3-4 rushers. The inside linebackers have fared much better, and the upside of numerous players is clearly visible.

    We have a new face in our linebacker group. With Shaq Thompson hurt, Benardrick McKinney steps into his spot. He is coming off a dominant performance against the Bengals in prime time. He finished with nine tackles and five run stops against a talented Cincinnati offense, per Pro Football Focus.

    This is a rock-solid group, especially considering guys such as Hau'oli Kikaha, Thompson and Bud Dupree aren't in this list. Even Kwon Alexander has flashed major talent for Tampa Bay. Watch for any of those rookies to break out during the final stretch of the season. 

    Linebacker Rankings
    1Jordan HicksLBEagles3.201Same
    2Eric Kendricks LBVikings2.132Same
    3Markus GoldenLBCardinals2.263Same
    4Benardrick McKinneyLBTexans2.11N/AUp
    5Stephone AnthonyLBSaints1.315Same


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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    This rookie cornerback group is a lot of fun to watch. It’s hard to find quality rookie cornerbacks because of the position's sheer difficulty, but we have a few standouts thus far. Their early successes should have teams kicking themselves for passing over instant starters at such a valuable spot.

    The competition for the fifth spot on this list is deep and impressive. The top four rookies in our list could be the No. 1 player in most cornerback classes. We expect the depth and overall talent of the 2015 corners to expand as the next few years feature the development of players who are not listed below. 

    Teams that need cornerback help should be regretting the decision to pass on all of these talented players. You can be sure the Chiefs, Bills, Packers, Texans and Patriots are quite pleased with their rookie cornerbacks thus far.

    Cornerback Rankings
    1Marcus PetersCBChiefs1.181Same
    2Ronald DarbyCBBills2.182Same
    3Damarious RandallCBPackers1.303Same
    4Kevin JohnsonCBTexans1.164Same
    5Justin ColemanCBPatriotsUDFA5Same


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    Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

    We’re starting to see some solid play from our two top safeties. Adrian Amos and Byron Jones continue to impress with plays near the line of scrimmage. The next step for each is to become more impactful in coverage.

    The rest of the safety class continues to be mediocre at best. Without impact pass defenders at the position, the rookie safeties have just been treading water. That’s not to say one of these young defenders won’t break out, but the early returns haven’t been notable.

    There’s no other NFL position like safety. The disparity between bad starters and even starter quality is steep, which makes the elites even that more obvious. Jones and Amos are the only two rookie safeties who are showing much promise right now.

    Safety Rankings
    1Byron JonesSAFCowboys1.272Up
    2Adrian AmosSAFBears5.61Down
    3Ibraheim CampbellSAFBrowns4.163Same
    4James SampleSAFJaguars4.54Same
    5Kyshoen JarrettSAFRedskins6.55Same


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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Our specialist rankings feature three return men, one kicker and one punter. After early-season production, this rookie return group has seen diminishing results. Maybe this will change in the final stretch of the season, but the last few weeks have been underwhelming.

    Josh Lambo is atop the top five. The San Diego kicker has been solid, making 17 of 19 kicks on the season. His 89.5 kicking percentage leads all rookie kickers.

    The lone punter on the list is Miami’s Matt Darr. He leads all rookie punters in net yards and average punt distance. His consistency has been notable, and he’s locked down that spot in Miami for the foreseeable future.

    Specialist Rankings
     1Josh LamboKChargersUDFA1Same
    2Matt DarrPDolphinsUDFA2Same
    3Marcus Murphy KRSaints7.133Same
    4David JohnsonKRCardinals3.224Same
    5Ameer AbdullahKRLions2.225Same

    All stats used are from unless otherwise noted.

    Ian Wharton is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. 

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