NFL News & Analysis

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

Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) reacts before a game against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

After 12 weeks of the 2021 NFL season, it appears there are no busts among the 2021 class' top-drafted position players. The first five position players all made this list, with seven of the first nine represented, as well.

Here are PFF's highest-graded rookies through NFL Week 12.

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1. C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 90.9

Don’t expect anyone to overtake Humphrey anytime soon. He’s not only the highest-graded rookie and the highest-graded center in the NFL; he is the fifth-highest-graded offensive lineman in the league regardless of position.

2. QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots

PFF overall grade: 83.9

Jones and the Patriots' offense has been humming so well this season that his 23-of-32, 310-yard, two-touchdown, zero-interception performance on Sunday was his lowest-graded game of the season. Jones is starting to run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.

3. T Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

PFF overall grade: 81.8

It wasn’t a banner performance from Slater over the weekend, but when allowing only three pressures is considered a “down” game for a rookie, you know they’ve set the bar pretty high. It was only the fifth time in 11 games Slater had allowed multiple pressures.

4. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns

PFF overall grade: 80.4

The Browns drafted JOK as their answer to Lamar Jackson, and that’s precisely what the rookie was on Sunday night. He racked up three pressures and nine stops en route to one of the best all-around games we’ve seen from a rookie all season.

5. LB Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

PFF overall grade: 79.4

The Cowboys thought they had drafted a linebacker with the 12th overall pick. In actuality, they got the best rookie edge-rusher since Von Miller. Parsons put up an absurd 10 pressures on Thanksgiving against the Raiders to give him 17 in his last two games. His 92.6 pass-rushing grade is the highest in the entire NFL.

6. S Jevon Holland, Miami Dolphins

PFF overall grade: 78.5

After shaking off the rust of opting out last year, Holland has been a complete game-changer of late. Against the Panthers Sunday, Holland picked off his only target. He now has either a pick or a pass breakup in six of his last seven games.

7. WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

PFF overall grade: 78.0

The Dolphins knocked this rookie class out of the park with their first two picks. Waddle was utterly electric over the weekend, catching 9-of-10 targets for 137 yards and his fourth score of the year. Despite being only 5-foot-10 and 182 pounds, Waddle has now hauled in 11 of his 15 contested catches on the season.

8. TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

PFF overall grade: 77.5

Pitts and the entire Falcons offense have been in a rut lately. He only caught 2-of-6 targets for 26 yards against the Jaguars over the weekend for his second straight game under 30 yards. The Falcons desperately need a second option besides Pitts in the passing game.

9. Edge Kwity Paye, Indianapolis Colts

PFF overall grade: 77.4

After a few favorable matchups in a row, Paye ran into the Bucs' talented tackle duo and got shut down. While he did register a sack, it came when he backtracked to Tom Brady climbing up past his linemen in the pocket. That would be his only pressure on the day.

10. CB Nate Hobbs, Las Vegas Raiders

PFF overall grade: 77.3

Hobbs had his lowest-graded game of the season on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys. However, the fact that he allowed just five catches from eight targets for 41 yards is why he’s so high on this list. He’s been incredibly steady for the Raiders in the slot.

11. WR DeVonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles

PFF overall grade: 77.1

It wasn’t only Smith who had a rough day for the Eagles' offense. He saw only four targets, hauling in two for 22 yards. That doesn’t sound nearly as bad, though, when you realize quarterback Jalen Hurts passed for only 129 yards all day.

12. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

PFF overall grade: 76.7

I’m not so sure it’s a “rookie wall,” but Chase has now recorded fewer than 50 yards in four straight games. Still, for Bengals fans, the fact the offense was humming over the weekend without having to force-feed its top receiver has to be seen as a positive.

13. G Trey Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 76.6

Smith will have a nice little test on his hands going up against the Broncos' defensive tackles next Sunday night. While he’s been a monster in the run game, Smith has allowed 28 pressures on the season. Last weekend, the Broncos' defensive tackles made Justin Herbert as antsy as we’ve seen him all year.

14. WR Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals

PFF overall grade: 75.2

It will be fun to see what the Cardinals and Kliff Kingsbury can cook up for the dynamic rookie coming out of the bye week. He already has the most screen targets of any receiver in the NFL (27), but it will be interesting to see if he gets more involved in the natural flow of the offense.

15. T Penei Sewell, Detroit Lions

PFF overall grade: 73.9

The top-10 pick is back on the list after some superb run blocking on Thanksgiving, earning a 93.2 grade in that regard. For him to be 21 years old and moving grown men the way he does is not normal. After some early-season struggles, Sewell has earned an 85.7 overall grade since week 6.

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