NFL News & Analysis

Top 15 NFL rookies: Week 1

Chicago Bears defensive end Dominique Robinson (91) pictured before a preseason game, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Cleveland. Brownspre 5

• Chicago Bears edge defender Dominique Robinson flashed on just 15 pass-rushing snaps, coming away with two sacks and a hurry.

• First-round wide receivers Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Treylon Burks all placed among the 15 highest-graded rookies in Week 1.

• A surprise undrafted Miami Dolphins cornerback takes the top spot as the only rookie to earn a 90.0-plus grade in Week 1.

Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins

Many of the first-rounders were relatively quiet in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. Of the 15 highest-graded rookies from this past week, only five were taken in the first 32 picks. Let’s dive into who all showed out in their debuts. 

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15(tie). CB Martin Emerson, Cleveland Browns (70.6)

Emerson was the toast of the preseason, and that’s carried over to the regular season. On four targets in Week 1, he allowed only three catches for 27 yards. He added a stop in coverage and a forced incompletion, as well. With Greedy Williams on injured reserve, Emerson’s workload isn’t going down anytime soon from the 42 snaps he played this past week.

15(tie). WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets (70.6)

Wilson finished with the fourth-most receiving yards (52) of any rookie in Week 1, although a majority came in the fourth quarter with the game already out of hand. Wilson should have added a score to his stat line on a filthy whip route, but quarterback Joe Flacco missed him.

13(tie). G Spencer Burford, San Francisco 49ers (71.5)

While many along the 49ers' offensive line struggled in Week 1, Burford held his own. The rookie fourth-rounder didn’t allow a single pressure on 36 pass-blocking snaps at right guard despite the Bears knowing the 49ers had to pass late. His performance is made all the more impressive by the fact that he took precisely zero of his 2,891 career snaps in college at the right guard position.

13(tie). WR Drake London, Atlanta Falcons (71.5)

London really is tailor-made for Arthur Smith’s offense. His ability to separate at the intermediate level and provide a big window for his quarterback to hit was already on display in Week 1. He hauled in five of seven targets for 74 yards in his debut. 

12. CB Roger McCreary, Tennessee Titans (71.9)

We should have known McCreary would be an impact player early on when the Titans' staff gave him the Week 1 starting nod over 2021 first-rounder Caleb Farley. Against the Giants, McCreary allowed only one catch on his lone target for five yards. To play 59 snaps, including 28 in coverage, and only allow five yards is well above expectations for a rookie.

11. WR Kyle Philips, Tennessee Titans (72.5)

It might be time to start buying some Kyle Philips rookie of the year props. Despite being a fifth-rounder, Philips was the focal point of the Titans' offense when he was in the game. He was on the field for only 25 passing snaps and saw the ball go his way an incredible 10 times. That’s an insane rate for a rookie. He hauled in six of those for 66 yards — and drew two penalties, as well. The trust Ryan Tannehill already has in Philips is well deserved because the rookie was flat-out getting open. 

10. LT Bernhard Raimann, Indianapolis Colts (72.8)

Raimann filled in at left tackle for 12 snaps and handled four more as a sixth lineman in heavy packages. He didn’t allow a single pressure on seven pass-blocking snaps and played well in the run game. After some mental mishaps this preseason, Raimann looks settled down and ready to start should he be called upon. 

9. CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets (72.9)

Gardner picked up right where he left off from Cincinnati. Planted for the most part at left cornerback (although he tracked Mark Andrews on some third downs), Gardner allowed only one catch all day for eight yards with a pass breakup. To already be doing that at the NFL level is special.

8. LB Malcolm Rodriguez, Detroit Lions (73.4)

Rodriguez was one of the stars of Hard Knocks for good reason: the man knows ball. His instinctual play style has translated almost immediately to the NFL, and so far the size concerns that dropped him to the sixth round appear overblown, although he did miss two of his eight tackle attempts. His real impact came in coverage, where his three targets went for only 12 yards and no first downs.  

7. DI Jordan Davis, Philadelphia Eagles (74.3)

Davis was as advertised against the run in Week 1. He made two stops on only 15 run snaps and forced cuts from running backs on multiple others. Davis played only 22 snaps, but with the Eagles' depth along the defensive line, they won’t need him doing much more than that anytime soon.

6. WR Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans (74.9)

It was an encouraging first outing from Burks, who still looks explosive with the ball in his hands. He caught three of five targets for 55 yards. All of his receptions came on crossing routes, which will be a great way to get him acclimated to the NFL after having such a limited route tree at Arkansas. 

5. CB Joshua Williams, Kansas City Chiefs (76.3)

Williams came in late after Trent McDuffie got injured and picked up where the first-rounder left off. Williams allowed only one catch on two targets for two yards across 12 coverage snaps. He played just 15 snaps on the day but looks like he won’t be a liability should he have to fill in for McDuffie long term.

4. G Ed Ingram, Minnesota Vikings (79.3)

While Ingram took his lumps in pass protection, he handled himself exquisitely in the ground game. He allowed five pressures in pass protection for a 31.2 grade in that regard yet earned an 87.4 run-blocking grade on the day to lead all rookies. 

3. G Dylan Parham, Las Vegas Raiders (82.3)

Parham somehow wasn’t even the starter heading into Week 1 and finished as the Raiders' highest-graded offensive lineman. Something tells me he’ll be the starter going forward. He filled in for Lester Cotton at right guard and didn’t allow a single pressure on 26 pass-blocking snaps. 

2. EDGE Dominique Robinson, Chicago Bears (89.8)

Robinson had flashed at times this preseason, but not quite in the way he did in Week 1. Robinson racked up two sacks and a hurry on only 15 pass-rushing snaps, then added two more run stops on 13 run-defense snaps. Doing it against a tackle like Mike McGlinchey makes it all the more impressive. 

1. CB Kader Kohou, Miami Dolphins (91.9)

Who, you may ask? Kohou is a 5-foot-9, 189-pound slot cornerback from Texas A&M-Commerce. To say he was not on many media draft rankings would be an understatement. You can’t do much better than Kohou did in his debut, however. He didn’t allow a catch on the day, made a tackle for loss against the run, broke up a pass and forced a crucial fumble on Nelson Agholor late in the fourth quarter.

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