NFL News & Analysis

NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players in Week 12

Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson (87) celebrates catching a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

TE Jake Ferguson shines:  The Cowboys tight end caught three passes for 57 yards in Week 12, and his hurdle on a 30-yarder was one of the highlights of Thanksgiving.

Malcolm Rodriguez‘s flawless game:  The Lions LB didn’t miss a tackle on six attempts and allowed only one catch on two targets with a pass breakup in coverage.

• The best we've seen from Kayvon Thibodeaux: The first-rounder racked up a career-high nine pressures, including five hits on Dak Prescott. He made his presence felt from the first snap to the last on a hefty 55-play workload.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins

This was the week of the midseason breakout rookies. A number of rookies who weren't even starters at the beginning of the season have been playing some great ball of late. So, let’s give some of those guys their deserved love.

15. WR Rashid Shaheed, New Orleans Saints (76.3)

The Saints found one dynamic weapon in the undrafted Shaheed. He caught two passes for 53 yards on three targets against the 49ers in Week 12. He’s got real playing time the past two weeks and is averaging 2.13 yards per route on the season.

14. CB Trent McDuffie, Kansas City Chiefs (76.6)

McDuffie has quietly been playing some of the best football of any rookie in the NFL this season; it’s just that he’s done it in only five games. McDuffie allowed only two catches for 13 yards on six targets against the Rams, and he added a pass breakup He now has an 81.0 coverage grade on the season, eighth-best among all corners.

13. WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets (77.4)

Wilson is already a true WR1, and it looks as if his stats will only go through the roof with QB Mike White at the helm. He caught five passes for 95 yards and two scores in a win over the Bears on Sunday. He needs more games like that to clear the 1,000-yard mark on the season, as he’s on pace for 972 yards at the moment.

12. S Verone McKinley III, Miami Dolphins (77.5)

The Dolphins have been searching for answers in the secondary of late, and they’re hoping they may have found one in McKinely. Against the Texans, McKinley hauled in his first career interception on 20 coverage snaps. It was only his fourth career game, as he’s been thrust into playing time only recently.

11. CB Cam Taylor-Britt, Cincinnati Bengals (79.7)

While he may have gotten mossed for a 51-yard gain by fellow rookie Treylon Burks, Taylor-Britt was lights out the rest of the day, allowing only 21 yards on his other five targets and forcing a fumble. His physical playstyle has been on display as a starter, as he has 20 tackles over the past two weeks.

10. WR Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs (80.1)

Moore has now produced back-to-back five-catch performances for the Chiefs, even though he's not yet cracked the starting lineup. Moore hauled in five passes for 36 yards against the Rams Sunday, yet only ran 15 routes. His 20.8% threat rate (percentage of routes targeted) for the season is a big figure for a rookie and a great sign for things to come.

9. TE Cole Turner, Washington Commanders (80.4)

This was a run-blocking clinic by Turner, who helped fuel the Commanders ground attack. He earned a 91.8 run-blocking grade across 17 run-blocking snaps.

8. RB Zonovan Knight, New York Jets (81.0)

In the first game action of his career, Knight was the same elusive talent we saw for a number of years at N.C. State. He broke six tackles on 14 carries for 69 yards and caught three passes for 34 yards.

7. RB Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders (82.0)

Robinson had a career day in a win over the Falcons. He ran for 105 yards on 18 carries and broke four tackles. He also caught two passes for 20 yards, although he dropped one target. He’s been looking better and better each week since returning t action.

6. WR Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers (84.6)

What a special big-play talent Watson is developing into. He now has six touchdowns over his previous three games, with another 100-plus-yard performance against the Eagles. He caught 4-of-6 targets for 110 yards and a score on only 25 routes on Sunday night. Unfortunately, Watson also dropped a pass for the third consecutive game.

5. Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants (87.2)

Thibodeaux looked the best we've seen all season on Thanksgiving. He racked up a career-high nine pressures, including five hits on Dak Prescott. He made his presence felt from the first snap to the last on a hefty 55-play workload.

4. LT Bernhard Raimann, Indianapolis Colts (88.6)

He wasn’t perfect in pass protection, as he allowed a sack and a hurry on 39 pass-blocking snaps, but Raimann was close to perfect in the run game. He earned a 92.0 grade in that regard, as he held his own against the Steelers' defensive line for much of the game.

3. QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers (89.8)

Week 12 was quite easily the highest-graded performance we’ve seen from Pickett all season. He had only his third start without a turnover-worthy play and finished with a 78.6 adjusted completion percentage. Pickett also did some work with his legs, rushing for 32 yards on six carries for two first downs.

2. LB Malcolm Rodriguez, Detroit Lions (90.5)

Rodriguez had a nearly flawless game against the Bills on Thanksgiving. He didn’t miss a tackle on six attempts and allowed only one catch on two targets with a pass breakup in coverage. He’s been quite the revelation as a sixth-rounder.

1. TE Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys (94.1)

Ferguson only ran four routes against the Giants, as he was mainly an added blocker on the 12 pass plays he played. Despite that, Ferguson caught three balls for 57 yards. His hurdle on a 30-yarder was one of the highlights of Thanksgiving.

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