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NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players through Week 8

PFF preaches the importance of sample sizes in player evaluation. Sure, you can find out about someone’s athletic traits fairly quickly on tape, but a few plays or even a few games aren’t nearly enough to definitively know how good those athletes are at the game of football.

With Week 8 in the books, we’re approaching sample sizes that we can feel confident about. If a rookie has made this list, the chances are their team got it right on draft day.

Here are PFF's highest-graded rookies through NFL Week 8.

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1. C Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 90.7

While he doesn’t play a sexy position or put up the eye-popping stats that will garner Rookie of the Year consideration, it would be Humphrey’s award to lose if all positions got their equal due. He’s been the highest-graded center in the entire NFL through the first eight weeks of the season, and he's the only one over 90.0.

2. QB Mac Jones, New England Patriots

PFF overall grade: 84.0

Jones continues to play the kind of efficient football that’s well beyond his years. It’s been three straight games now where Jones hasn’t thrown a single turnover-worthy play. The Alabama product may have also just made his best throw as a pro this past weekend.

3. RB Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears

PFF overall grade: 83.4

Herbert continues to go above and beyond what’s expected of him in this Bears offense, averaging nearly 3.0 yards after contact per attempt. He’s been the bell cow with David Montgomery out, handling just under 20 carries a game since taking over in Week 5, and he has 344 rushing yards over that span.

4. WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

PFF overall grade: 81.3

Chase has quite obviously been an ultra-dynamic big-play weapon for the Bengals — he’s single-handedly transformed the offense. However, the drops we saw in the preseason haven’t gone away. Chase has five drops on 43 catchable passes this season, with two over the weekend.

5. LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Cleveland Browns

PFF overall grade: 81.1

JOK is still out with an ankle injury, and his presence has been missed in the middle of the Browns' defense. Yet, amazingly, the Browns linebacker still ranks second among all rookie defenders this season with four pass breakups. Yes, that includes cornerbacks, as well.

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6. TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

PFF overall grade: 80.8

After back-to-back 100-yard games, Pitts was thoroughly shut down this past weekend. The Panthers game planned to get physical with him, and the rookie only caught 2-of-6 passes for 13 yards. He’s still on pace to eclipse 1,000 yards on the season, with 484 so far.

7. G Trey Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

PFF overall grade: 80.1

Smith put on an absolute show on Monday Night Football in Week 8. He showed the full skill set that had many so high on him before he fell to the sixth round for medical issues. Smith is a mauler in the run game who is already moving grown men in the trenches.

8. T Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers

PFF overall grade: 78.7

Slater is not only good for a rookie left tackle; he’s good for a left tackle, period. He’s earned the sixth-highest grade of any tackle in the NFL so far, allowing only 12 pressures on 328 pass-blocking snaps this season.

9. CB Nate Hobbs, Las Vegas Raiders

PFF overall grade: 78.6

Hobbs has been as reliable a slot corner as you’ll see in the NFL this season. In seven games, he’s had only one game earn a below-average coverage grade, which came back in Week 1.

10. T Samuel Cosmi, Washington Football Team

PFF overall grade: 77.0

Cosmi was a grown man in the run game before the injury that has forced him to miss the past three weeks. He earned an 89.0 run-blocking grade in Washington’s first five games with only one below-average game grade.

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

11. WR Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals 

PFF overall grade: 76.6

Moore has already broken 10 tackles on only 29 receptions so far. He’s still more of a gadget player in the Cardinals offense, with 19 of those catches coming on screens. Still, he’s been excellent in that regard.

12. TE Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

PFF overall grade: 76.4

Freiermuth has taken over a full-time role with Eric Ebron is sidelined through injury. He’s coming off arguably his best two games as a pro and came down with the game-winning touchdown score against the Browns this past weekend.

13. G Alijah Vera-Tucker, New York Jets

PFF overall grade: 76.0

After a bit of a slow start, Vera-Tucker has looked well worth the 14th overall pick the past three games. Since Week 5, Vera-Tucker has been the fourth-highest-graded guard in the NFL, with an 86.4 overall grade.

14. CB Michael Carter II, New York Jets

PFF overall grade: 73.1

It’s great to see multiple Jets on this list, given the state of the franchise. They’ve had more rookie snaps than any other team in the NFL this season. Carter is coming off his best game as a pro, where he allowed only one catch for 21 yards.

15. CB Greg Newsome II, Cleveland Browns

PFF overall grade: 71.8

After some early-season injuries, Newsome has come on strong after his return. He’s recorded a pass breakup in each of his past two games to give him four on the season. Newsome has allowed only 14 catches from 22 targets for 206 yards on the season.

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