• Sauce Gardner‘s season continues: Against the Broncos, Gardner was targeted 10 times and allowed four catches for only 16 yards — 1.6 yards per target. He added three pass breakups for the second game in a row.
• Kenneth Walker III making the most of it: Through two weeks as a starter, the Seahawks back has 265 yards on 44 carries with three scores and 15 broken tackles.
• Jack Jones here to stay: Jones has been a mainstay on this list over the past four weeks and just earned his sixth straight 68.0-plus coverage grade. Against the Bears, he didn’t allow a catch on his lone target, and he added two run stops.
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The races for the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year awards are starting to take real shape, with a few young stars separating themselves from the pack.
Here are the 15-highest-graded rookies from Week 7, which features several repeat names on both sides of the ball.
15. T Nicholas Petit-Frere, Tennessee Titans (72.0)
Expectations will never be high for a third-round rookie right tackle, but Petit-Frere has shown flashes. His game against the Colts was his highest-graded effort of the season, as he allowed only two pressures on 23 pass-blocking snaps.
14. CB Roger McCreary, Tennessee Titans (72.3)
The Titans have asked a lot from McCreary this season, splitting him between the slot and out wide. He more than held his own against the Colts, allowing three catches from four targets for just 28 yards to go along with a pass breakup.
13. T Jamaree Salyer, Los Angeles Chargers (72.4)
Salyer has done his best to save the Chargers' season with his play in Rashawn Slater’s absence. The rookie left tackle has earned pass-blocking grades over 70.0 in three of his four starts, including this past week against the Seahawks.
12. CB Damarri Mathis, Denver Broncos (73.1)
Mathis has been thrust into a starting role the past two weeks and has more than held his own. He was targeted six times against the Jets but allowed five catches for only 23 yards. That comes a week after he had two pass breakups against the Chargers.
11. CB Jack Jones, New England Patriots (73.6)
Jones has been a mainstay on this list over the past four weeks and just earned his sixth straight 68.0-plus coverage grade. Against the Bears, Jones didn’t allow a catch on his lone target, and he added two run stops.
10. S Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens (75.6)
Hamilton performs well when called upon, but he only comes in for sub-packages. He collected a sack and coverage stop on his 21 snaps against the Browns. He’s now earned a 73.3 overall grade on 176 snaps this season.
9. Edge Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland Browns (77.8)
Thomas had an encouraging performance for a defensive line in need of encouraging performances. He played 23 snaps — 21 of them against the run — and recorded two run stops. On his two pass-rushing snaps, he also notched a pressure.
8. LB Quay Walker, Green Bay Packers (78.0)
That was easily the best we’ve seen Walker look all season. He was all over the field with seven defensive stops against the Commanders by the final whistle. The first-rounder also added his second pass breakup of the season.
7. Edge Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions (78.1)
It’s been a slow start for the defensive tackle class, but Hutchinson has come on strong of late and easily had his best all-around performance of the season Sunday. He racked up two sacks, a hit and a hurry, as well as a stop in the run game. Hutchinson looked much more comfortable getting to play in a two-point stance as opposed to having his hand in the dirt.
6. T Thayer Munford, Las Vegas Raiders (79.1)
Munford is still splitting time on the Raiders' offensive line but made the most of it this week. On 43 snaps at right tackle, he earned above-average grades as both a run-blocker and pass-protector, as he didn’t allow a pressure on 21 pass-blocking snaps.
5. T Braxton Jones, Chicago Bears (79.4)
After a slow start to the season, Jones has made this list in two of the past three weeks — and that’s not bad for a fifth-rounder. Against the Patriots on Monday night, he allowed only two pressures on 27 pass-blocking snaps.
4. RB Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks (82.4)
Walker took the reins as the starting back for the Seahawks the past two weeks and has made the most of it. Against the Chargers, he racked up 168 yards on 23 carries, with 125 of those yards coming after contact. Through two weeks as a starter, he has 265 yards on 44 carries with three scores and 15 broken tackles.
3. RB Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans (85.7)
Pierce continues to maximize every handoff he gets this season. He collected 92 yards on 20 carries against the Texans over the weekend, with 61 of those coming after contact and five broken tackles. Pierce is now averaging 3.96 yards after contact per attempt on the season.
T-1. CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets (90.2)
Gardner just seems to keep resetting how high he can push the bar for a rookie corner week after week. Against the Broncos, he was targeted 10 times and allowed four catches for only 16 yards — 1.6 yards per target. He added three pass breakups for the second game in a row—what a superstar.
T-1. S Jaquan Brisker, Chicago Bears (90.2)
Brisker showed up in a big way for a Bears defense that few gave a chance heading into Monday night. He was targeted five times in coverage, but he gave up just two receptions for 11 yards and one first down, and he arguably made the play of the game when he broke on a go route to pick off Mac Jones with an impressive one-handed snag.