NFL News & Analysis

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

Tampa, Florida, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely (80) gets pastTampa Bay Buccaneers defensive back Dee Delaney (30) in the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Isaiah Likely‘s big day: In Mark Andrews‘ absence, Likely hauled in six of his seven targets for 77 yards and a score in Week 8.

Sauce Gardner running away with DROY: Gardner allowed two catches on three targets for -4 yards against the Pats.

Greg Dulcich making his mark: Dulcich has been on a tear since returning from IR in Week 6. He’s racked up 182 yards over that span, including 87 this past Sunday against the Jaguars.

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NFL Week 8 produced something of an offensive explosion, and numerous rookies got in the mix. Here are your 15 highest-graded first-year stars from the past week.

15. LB Micah McFadden, New York Giants (71.9)

McFadden played 27 snaps against the Seattle Seahawks and made his presence felt coming downhill. He produced a sack on one of his five pass-rushing snaps and collected another stop against the run.

14. DI John Ridgeway, Washington Commanders (72.3)

Ridgeway saw his second-most snaps on the season (25) and did his part in shutting down Jonathan Taylor. He made three run stops on 13 snaps against the run for a 75.0 run-defense grade.

13. WR Romeo Doubs, Green Bay Packers (72.7)

Doubs was the last man standing in the Packers' receiving corps against the Buffalo Bills. After failing to haul in what would have been a big play on a post route early in the game, Doubs made the most of his chances the rest of the way, hauling in all four of his other targets for 62 yards and a score.

12. TE Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos (72.9)

Dulcich has been on a tear ever since returning from IR in Week 6. He’s racked up 182 yards over that span, including 87 this past Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He caught 4-of-5 targets, with three resulting in a first down.

T-10. LG Zach Tom, Green Bay Packers (73.0)

Tom is definitely a fish out of water at guard and doesn’t have the power to hold up to stronger interior rushers. That being said, his movement skills and adept hand usage showed out in the run game against the Bills, where the Packers shredded all game long. Tom earned a 73.9 run-blocking grade on the day.

T-10. LT Ikem Ekwonu, Carolina Panthers (73.0)

Ekwonu has been tremendous over the last five weeks after a rough start to the season. Over that span, the No. 6 overall pick has yielded all of three pressures. Against the Falcons on Sunday, he didn’t allow a single one.

9. TE Peyton Hendershot, Dallas Cowboys (74.3)

It was an all-around solid day for the Cowboys UDFA, who’s been thrust into playing time with injuries at the position. On 20 snaps, he hauled in both his targets for 15 yards.

8. CB Martin Emerson, Cleveland Browns (74.5)

The Cincinnati Bengals tried to pick on Emerson for most of the night, but they mostly came up empty-handed. He was targeted 10 times and didn’t allow a single first down on the day. The seven catches he allowed went for a total of 27 yards.

7. WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets (77.5)

It was a career day for Wilson against the Patriots. He recorded the second-most receptions of his career (6) and the most yards (115) in the Jets' loss. Wilson has now broken 11 tackles on only 34 catches this season.

6. TE Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans (78.1)

Okonkwo makes this list for one reason only: his run-blocking. He was a man possessed in the run game against the Texans and helped pave the way for Derrick Henry’s dominant 219-yard rushing performance. His 85.0 run-blocking grade on 16 snaps was the second-highest of any tight end in Week 8.

5. S Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens (79.4)

After a little rocky start, Hamilton has been as advertised of late. On Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the rookie allowed only two catches from four targets for 15 yards with a pass breakup. He’s still only playing a sub-package role for the Ravens and played just 36 snaps this week.

4. Edge Tomon Fox, New York Giants (79.5)

The Giants UDFA has been thrust into playing significant snaps the past two weeks and responded with his best output of the season against the Seahawks. He racked up a ridiculous six run stops on only 12 snaps against the run.

3. WR Alec Pierce, Indianapolis Colts (80.5)

It shouldn’t be too surprising that Pierce makes this list after finally playing with a quarterback who has the arm to hit him downfield. He’s been stacking corners on go-balls all season and hauled in yet another against the Commanders. Pierce caught three of his five targets for 65 yards on only 19 routes.

2. CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets (83.2)

Gardner makes a top-five spot on this list for a third straight week. He one-upped himself with his dominance against the Patriots, allowing two catches on three targets for -4 yards. No, that's not a typo. Gardner had two stops on his two catches allowed, resulting in negative yardage.

1. TE Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens (87.4)

This one is bittersweet for Ravens fans, as Likely’s breakout came as Mark Andrews was sidelined after only 10 snaps. The rookie did his best impression of Andrews, though, hauling in six of seven targets for 77 yards and a score.

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