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NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players through Week 4

Foxboro, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now far enough into the 2021 NFL season to get a good idea of which rookies are separating themselves from the rest of their draft class.

Here are the 15 highest-graded first-year players four games into 2021. We start with a young star on the Cleveland Browns defense who has surpassed all expectations heading into Week 5.

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1. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns

PFF overall grade: 89.8

Owusu-Koramoah has not only been outstanding but he’s also excelled in areas many didn’t expect him to this early on. The Notre Dame product has been a playmaker in the run game in a way that few rookie linebackers ever are. He’s already racked up eight run stops on 36 snaps in run defense for the NFL's highest run-stop percentage at the position.

2. C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 84.7

Humphrey is fresh off one of the most impressive performances we’ve seen from any member of the 2021 NFL Draft class. Humphrey was a man possessed in the run game this past week, earning a 93.7 grade in that regard. He’s only allowed one pressure on the season and done more than his part to revamp the Chiefs' offensive line. 

3. T Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

PFF overall grade: 77.9

Slater has quite easily been the most NFL-ready tackle of the bunch. He’s yet to allow a sack all season and has allowed multiple pressures in only one of his four outings so far. Slater is already deserving of Pro Bowl consideration right out the gate.

4. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

PFF overall grade: 77.1

Chase continues to look like the right selection for the Bengals. He caught yet another deep pass last Thursday night, giving him four on the season. The rookie has had over 50 yards in every game so far and has already become Joe Burrow‘s go-to guy. Throwing Chase's way has netted the Bengals quarterback a 147.8 passer rating through four weeks, seventh-best among QB-WR duos.

Related content for you: Grading all 32 first-round picks after Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season via Sam Monson

5. CB Nate Hobbs, Las Vegas Raiders

PFF overall grade: 76.2

Hobbs continues to make plays in the slot for the Raiders defense. Of his 15 targets so far, only five have resulted in a first down, and they have gone for a total of 84 yards. He even got snaps at outside corner on Monday night after Damon Arnette went out.

6. EDGE Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

PFF overall grade: 75.4

Parsons' versatility has been invaluable to the Cowboys' defense. After moving to defensive end in Week 2 and Week 3, he was back off the ball this past week. While he still hasn’t made too many plays in coverage, Parsons has been a problem as a pass-rusher, earning a 90.1 pass-rushing grade with 17 pressures on 91 pass-rushing snaps. 

7. EDGE Odafe Oweh, Baltimore Ravens 

PFF overall grade: 75.3

While Oweh still isn’t much of a pass-rusher one-on-one, he’s still found ways to make plays. He’s a weapon in space, whether he is left unblocked or if he's used in a stunt. He’s produced multiple pressures in every game so far this season.

8. CB Asante Samuel Jr., Los Angeles Chargers

PFF overall grade: 74.2

Some rookie cornerbacks have allowed 150-plus yards in individual games, but Samuel has yet to allow that for an entire season. He’s given just 12 catches from 19 targets for 127 yards with two picks and two forced incompletions.

9. T Samuel Cosmi, Washington Football Team

PFF overall grade: 73.7

Cosmi already looks like a plus run-blocker for the tackle position — he already has an 85.3 run-blocking grade on the season. While he needs to be protected a little at times in pass protection, that’s not uncommon for a rookie. 

10. G Trey Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 73.3

Very few sixth-round picks have been as impactful as Smith has through the first month of the season. Not only are sixth-rounders not supposed to earn starting jobs, they definitely aren’t supposed to dominate the way Smith did this past week. The Tennessee product earned an 85.4 overall grade against a talented Eagles front, with no pressures allowed on 39 pass-blocking snaps.

11. WR Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals 

PFF overall grade: 73.2

Moore continues to make plays every time Kyler Murray looks his way. He leads the entire NFL with eight broken tackles after the catch on 16 receptions and has yet to drop a pass.

Related content for you: Massive third-year development from Kyler Murray is driving the Cardinals' red hot 4-0 start via Seth Galina

12. CB Michael Carter II, New York Jets

PFF overall grade: 72.5

Carter continues to impress in the slot for the Jets. He’s yet to allow more than 30 yards in any single game this season, and his 0.65 yards per coverage snap allowed is the third-best of any corner from the slot this season.

13. RB Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

PFF overall grade: 71.8

Williams continues to be near-impossible to bring down on first contact. He’s broken two tackles on eight receptions and 17 tackles on 46 carries this year. His run against the Ravens in Week 4 was one of the most impressive we’ve seen all season.

13. QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots

PFF overall grade: 71.8

While Jones hasn’t packed the stat sheet, the quickness and accuracy he’s displayed have been impressive. His 77.6% adjusted completion percentage is far and away the highest of any rookie and ranks ninth among all quarterbacks heading into Week 5.

Related content for you: Tom Brady-Bill Belichick relationship takes center stage in Buccaneers' win over Patriots via Doug Kyed

15. Greg Newsome II, Cleveland Browns

PFF overall grade: 70.1

It’s a shame Newsome went down with a calf injury in Week 3 against the Bears that has him now week-to-week. He’d allowed only 24 yards on 104 coverage snaps as the starter on the outside before that — the fewest in the NFL for any corner with at least 100 coverage snaps.

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