NFL News & Analysis

NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players through Week 6

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) reacts after making a catch against the Minnesota Vikings in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

We're now a third of the way through the 2021 NFL season, and the offensive talent last spring's class was known for has translated to the regular season.

Only two of the 15 highest-graded rookies so far play defense. However, after a much-hyped quarterback class saw five go in the top 15 picks, only one makes the list — for now.

Here are PFF's highest-graded rookies through NFL Week 6.

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1. C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 85.2

Not only has Humphrey flashed dominance at times, but he’s also yet to have a “rookie” game. His lowest-graded game on the season — Week 2 vs. Baltimore — still earned a 59.8 overall mark. Humphrey is the second-highest graded center in the entire NFL so far.

Creed Humphrey: PFF overall grades and rank among centers
Week PFF grade Rank
1 68.6 9 of 33
2 59.8 21 of 32
3 76.0 6 of 32
4 92.5 2 of 32
5 78.3 4 of 32
6 66.3 9 of 25

2. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns

PFF overall grade: 81.1

Through six weeks, no defensive rookie has looked like they belonged more than the Browns' second-round linebacker. His play speed is absurd for a guy still only a handful of weeks into his NFL career. JOK has especially shined in coverage, where he’s allowed only eight catches from 12 targets for 59 yards on the season.

Unfortunately, it looks as if the Notre Dame product will be sidelined for the next few weeks with a high-ankle sprain.

3. QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots

PFF overall grade: 79.7

Jones earned a 92.5 overall grade against the Cowboys in Week 6 — the best game of his young career. The former Alabama star hasn’t had a truly below-average game grade since Week 2 against the Jets. He now ranks seventh in adjusted completion percentage on the season (78.9%), as he’s rarely missing throws.

4. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

PFF overall grade: 78.4

Chase continues to light up stat sheets and run by cornerbacks. His eight deep receptions and four deep touchdowns are both the most of any receiver in the NFL. The drops are still there — he added his third of the season over the weekend — but Chase is more than making up for it with big plays.

PFF's Player Props Tool leverages PFF's Fantasy Football Projections to reveal betting opportunities within player prop markets.

5. WR Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals 

PFF overall grade: 77.9

Moore not only continues to catch everything thrown his way, but he is also creating after the catch. He’s hauled in 24-of-28 targets for 287 yards so far, with the second-most broken tackles after the catch of any receiver in the league (nine). He’s added a dynamism the Cardinals offense was sorely missing.

6. CB Nate Hobbs, Las Vegas Raiders

PFF overall grade: 77.8

Hobbs already looks like one of the best slot cornerbacks in the league, and he’s done a terrific job of limiting yards after the catch for Gus Bradley’s defense. His 25 targets have resulted in only 10 first downs so far. More importantly, he's yet to allow a score. He looks like another win for Mike Mayock on Day 3.

7. WR Kadarius Toney, New York Giants

PFF overall grade: 77.0

Toney aggravated his ankle injury just six snaps into last Sunday’s game against the Rams. In the two games prior, when he first cracked the starting lineup, Toney racked up 267 yards on 16 catches with eight broken tackles. 

8. T Samuel Cosmi, Washington Football Team

PFF overall grade: 77.0

Yet another rookie who was balling out before an ankle injury. Cosmi was in the midst of his best game of the season before he went down against the Saints in Week 5. He hasn’t allowed a sack or hit since Week 1.

9. LB Pete Werner, New Orleans Saints

PFF overall grade: 76.5

Werner only broke into the starting lineup in Week 3 but has been dependable ever since. He’s recorded nine stops over his previous two games and hasn’t missed a tackle on 24 attempts this season.

10. TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

PFF overall grade: 76.3

Pitts has quietly become the focal point of the Falcons offense many had predicted when the star tight end went fourth overall last April. He’s seen 19 targets in Atlanta’s last two games before the bye week. He’s coming off a career game in London, where he caught nine balls for 119 yards and a score. 

11. T Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

PFF overall grade: 75.9

Slater has been the best pass-protecting rookie tackle, and he hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He didn’t allow a single pressure on 45 pass-blocking snaps on Sunday against the Ravens. That’s made even more impressive by the fact that many of those came when Los Angeles was down big in the second half and the Ravens knew the Chargers had to pass.

12. G Trey Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 75.1

While the talented Washington front exposed Smith in pass protection a bit this past weekend — he allowed five pressures in total — Smith continues to get the job done in the run game. His 81.9 run-blocking grade ranks seventh among all guards in the NFL.

13. TE Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

PFF overall grade: 73.8

Freiermuth continues to be dependable, as he’s coming off the best game of his career on Sunday night. He hauled in all seven of his targets for 58 yards and three first downs. He’s now caught 18-of-20 targets on the season, along with both of his contested catches.

14. G Alijah Vera-Tucker, New York Jets

PFF overall grade: 73.1

Vera-Tucker has started similarly to Trey Smith. He’s been taken advantage of at times in pass protection, with 12 pressures allowed on the season. His 81.3 run-blocking grade ranks eighth among all guards, though.

15. RB Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

PFF overall grade: 71.9

Williams continues to earn more carries in the Broncos offense. He has now broken four tackles on 14 receptions and 22 tackles on 65 carries. He currently owns the best broken-tackle rate of any back in the league with at least 50 carries. 

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