NFL News & Analysis

Highest-graded second-year NFL players ahead of Week 10

Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) returns a fumble for a touchdown in the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

• EDGE Micah Parsons leads the pack: The star pass-rusher is already among the best at his position in his second NFL season, currently sitting as the betting favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year.

• Christian Darrisaw, Rashawn Slater have bright futures: While the latter is out due to injury for the foreseeable future, both have performed at a high level in 2022.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins

Building on our piece highlighting the highest-graded second-year players at every position in the NFL, here are the highest-graded sophomore overall ahead of Week 10.


1. EDGE Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys: 90.9 PFF Grade

The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year has 39 total pressures through eight games and a 91.3 pass-rushing grade. Both are top-five marks among all defenders in 2022. He has morphed into one of the game’s premiere defensive players at just 23 years old and is the current betting favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year (-250), per BetMGM.

2. RB Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots: 89.6 PFF Grade

Through nine games, Stevenson is on track to secure his first 1,000-yard rushing season in the NFL. He’s accumulated 621 yards on the ground thanks to averaging 3.79 yards after contact (T-7th) alongside forcing 26 missed tackles as a runner. Stevenson has all but established himself as the Patriots’ definitive RB1 for the foreseeable future.  

3. T Christian Darrisaw, Minnesota Vikings: 89.1 PFF Grade

Across 539 snaps in 2022, Darrisaw has started to materialize as the team’s cornerstone left tackle. He has yet to allow a sack on the year, and he’s surrendered just three pressures in his past four games after letting up five in the first two contests of the season. His 83.4 run-blocking grade also ranks fourth among all tackles through Week 9.

4. CB Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos: 85.8 PFF Grade

PS2 is already a star in a Denver secondary littered with young talent. What separates Surtain from his fellow teammates is his suffocating coverage ability on the outside. The second-year standout hasn't allowed a single touchdown reception this season and nearly has as many forced incompletions (4) as first-down receptions allowed (7) in a projected All-Pro season.

5. T Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers: 84.0 PFF Grade

A ruptured biceps seemingly ended Slater’s 2022 season early (could reportedly return late in the year), but he was off to an excellent start. In his three appearances, the former top-15 pick was one of the game’s best run-blockers, earning an 88.0 grade to go along with just three pressures allowed on 113 pass-blocking snaps.

6. WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins: 83.6 PFF Grade

While Waddle has taken a slight step back in responsibility as the Dolphins’ WR2, his impact is still very much paramount. The former Alabama Crimson Tide standout currently holds an 85.1 receiving grade on 68 targets and is 188 yards shy of his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season. He's racked up the league’s second-highest total of explosive receiving plays (15-plus yard receptions), at 22, which trails only teammate Tyreek Hill.

7. EDGE Gregory Rousseau, Buffalo Bills: 83.1 PFF Grade

Once labeled a raw prospect with immense upside during the 2021 NFL Draft, Rousseau has quickly climbed up the ranks as one of the game’s rising young pass-rushers. The former Miami Hurricane has tallied 23 total pressures, including 14 hurries and six sacks, on the season. The best part of his ongoing 2022 success? His 22.6% pass-rush win rate ranks 10th among all edge defenders through Week 9. 

8. C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs: 82.7 PFF Grade

Humphrey may not be duplicating his legendary All-Pro rookie season, falling well short of last year's 91.4 overall grade thus far, but he still hasn’t been anything but dominant during his second NFL campaign. The second-round gem hasn’t surrendered a single sack from 403 pass-blocking snaps and currently boasts an 83.3 run-blocking grade.

9. RB Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars: 81.9 PFF Grade

The former first-round pick has had full control of the team’s RB1 role since the Jaguars traded away James Robinson, and he hasn’t disappointed. Etienne sports a top-five 90.6 rushing grade that features 38 missed tackles forced, 34 rushing first downs and 11 runs of 15-plus yards through nine games this season. 

10. EDGE Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins: 80.1 PFF Grade

Phillips has racked up 37 pressures through nine weeks — already just two away from equaling his entire 2021 total. While he’s been able to convert just four of those pressures into sacks, the trade deadline addition of Bradley Chubb to the frontline should open up more avenues for a second-year breakthrough for the former top-20 pick.

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