NFL News & Analysis

NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players after Week 2

2RW84GH Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) runs against Green Bay Packers running back AJ Dillon (28) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 25-24. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Jalen Carter stays on top: For the second straight week, Carter stands atop the 2023 draft class as the highest-graded rookie in the league. The Eagles' first-rounder finished the week as the only rookie to maintain a 90.0-plus grade through his first two outings.

Bijan Robinson making waves: This past week, Robinson erupted to the tune of 172 total yards on 23 touches against the Packers. Robinson looked nearly unstoppable on the ground, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and forcing six missed tackles. 

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Members of the 2023 draft class are primed and ready to face down the bright lights of the NFL stage. Whether they were drafted first or 259th, the best will rise to the top when the games are played.

These are the 15 highest-graded rookies after NFL Week 2.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

1. DI Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles: 90.2 

For the second straight week, Carter stands atop the 2023 draft class as the highest-graded rookie in the league. The Eagles' first-rounder finished the week as the only rookie to maintain a 90.0-plus grade through his first two outings.

While his performance in Week 2 wasn’t nearly as impressive as his debut — finishing the day with just three quarterback hurries on 25 snaps — that’s more a result of the Vikings' game plan rather than his relative ineffectiveness. The Vikings' offensive line dedicated a lot of attention to Carter, often sliding protection to him, resulting in him facing help blocks on over 64% of his pass-rush snaps.

2. TE Will Mallory, Indianapolis Colts: 88.3

From a Week 1 “did not participate” to the highest-graded offensive rookie in the NFL through Week 2. Mallory shined most in the passing game, grabbing both of his targets for 49 yards, a feat made more impressive considering he averaged a massive 7.0 yards per route run, the fourth-highest mark in the league this past week.

3. RB Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons: 86.1

While Robinson was slightly overshadowed by backfield mate Tyler Allgeier in Week 1, that was far from the case in Week 2. This past week, Robinson erupted for 172 total yards on 23 touches against the Packers. Robinson looked nearly unstoppable on the ground, averaging 6.5 yards per carry and forcing six missed tackles. Through the air, Robinson managed to earn almost 94% of his yards after the catch.

That type of talent with the ball in his hands is exactly why the Falcons drafted him so highly and why he ranks first among all running backs in the NFL in PFF grading through the first two weeks.

4. LB Ivan Pace Jr., Minnesota Vikings: 85.2

Pace, the only undrafted player to make this list, again finds himself ranked among the league’s best rookie defenders, having previously come in at 11th on this list after Week 1.

Similarly to his first outing, Pace wasn’t the most efficient coverage or run-stuffing backer, but his appeal as a pass-rusher is undoubtedly there. Through the first two weeks of play, Pace has produced a massive 53.3% pass-rush win rate on his way to earning a 90.0-plus pass-rush grade in each contest. While the workload is limited, expect to see more of Pace moving forward.

5. WR Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams: 85.0

Week 2 marked a historic day for the former BYU Cougar, in which he broke a pair of NFL rookie records on his way to making this list again. Nacua’s 15 receptions this past week were the most in a single game by a rookie in NFL history, while his 25 receptions through his first two games are also the most by any rookie.

His 83.2 receiving grade is not only impressive for a first-year player, but it also is genuinely impressive as a whole, where Nacua ranks as the fifth-highest graded receiver.

6. DI Keeanu Benton, Pittsburgh Steelers: 83.6

With Cameron Heyward (groin) going on the IR, Benton has stepped into the rotation on the Steelers' interior and produced quality snaps. While his pass-rushing grades have fluctuated a bit, his ability to fit the run continues to be the strong point in his game. Through two games, Benton has remained mistake-free on 32 run snaps, earning a 0.0% negatively graded play rate.

7. CB Christian Gonzalez, New England Patriots: 82.6

After a lackluster debut, Gonzalez catapulted up this list for his outstanding performance during Monday Night Football. The first-rounder saw a massive 35.8-point jump in his coverage grading over the previous week, finishing Week 2 at 91.6, the highest mark of the week. He allowed just three receptions on five coverage targets despite being tasked with covering one of the best receiver tandems in the modern era.

8. G Peter Skoronski, Tennessee Titans: 81.3

Unfortunately, the lone offensive lineman to make this list didn’t take the field this past week due to illness but remains among the names to watch in this rookie class. Skoronski’s ability as a road-grading run-blocker was on full display in his debut, where he earned a positive grade once every four snaps, compared to just a 5% negatively graded run-block percentage. That will surely be an asset to this Titans offense moving forward.

9. WR Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs: 80.2

With the return of Travis Kelce to the lineup, the Chiefs had fewer snaps to go around for the receiving corps, which meant a limited workload for Rice. The former SMU standout may not have filled up the box score, but he did produce when called upon. Patrick Mahomes had a 108.3 passer rating when targeting Rice this past week. Paired with Week 1, that rating skyrockets to 130.4.

10. DI Kobie Turner, Los Angeles Rams: 78.5

After missing out on making this list in Week 1, Turner climbed his way into the top-10 graded rookies this season. Through two weeks, Turner has shown off his well-rounded game, producing as a run defender and pass-rusher. He has accumulated four total pressures and one sack on passing downs, winning 10.3% of his pass-rush snaps. But where Turner’s game really shines is on the ground, where he’s earned a positive grade on over 35% of his run snaps.

11. RB Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans: 76.6

Derrick Henry may be at the head of the table in the Titans’ backfield, but Spears should not be ignored. The third-round pick out of Tulane has hit the ground running since entering the league, producing an incredible 89.7 rushing grade through two games. While that number is impressive on its face, it’s made more remarkable when compared against the rest of the league, where it ranks as the top rushing grade from any back.

12. TE Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions: 76.5

Through two weeks, LaPorta has shown an innate ability in whatever role is asked of him, producing quality grades as a receiver (75.1 receiving grade) and blocker (78.8 pass-blocking grade). While he has some room for growth — especially in the run game — he has thrived in Detroit’s passing game, maintaining a perfect 100% pass protection win rate and a 105.3 WR rating.

13. WR Marvin Mims, Denver Broncos: 75.8

In what has to be one of the biggest single-game grading improvements so far this season, Mims had himself a day this past week. While he saw just two targets, he managed to rack up 113 yards on his way to earning a 91.4 receiving grade against the Commanders. His performance was so impressive that it lifted his overall stats for the season among some of the league’s best. Through two games, Mims ranks in the top three in yards per reception, yards per route run and passer rating when targeted.

14. WR Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers: 75.1

The theme of week-over-week improvement continues here with Reed. The former Michigan State Spartan found his footing in his second outing at the perfect time, producing a pair of scores. While his stat line this season won’t turn any heads, Reed is quietly becoming the Packers weapon of choice in key moments and leads the team in targets on third down, first down receptions and touchdowns.

15. WR Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens: 74.8

The dynamic Boston College product is surely on everyone’s radar, but if not, there is no better time to get acquainted than now. Through two games, Flowers has sent a shock through this Ravens' passing game with his talent as a ball carrier. On his 13 catches this season, Flowers has accumulated five forced missed tackles and five plays of 15 yards or more. While Flowers hasn’t been limited in his field time, he could see even more work in the coming weeks, as the Ravens are unsure of Odell Beckham Jr.’s availability after he sustained an ankle injury in Week 2.


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