NFL News & Analysis

NFL Rookies: Top 15 highest-graded players in Week 9

Paradise, Nevada, USA; Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce (31) carries the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

•  Chris Olave back on the list: This week, it was just another ho-hum six catches for 71 yards from the rookie first-rounder.

• The bright spot for the Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu went toe-to-toe with Trey Hendrickson over the weekend and allowed only two pressures on 33 pass-blocking snaps.

Kerby Joseph‘s big day: In an upset win over the Green Bay Packers, Joseph picked off Aaron Rodgers not once but twice. He also added a key third-down pass breakup.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins

Nine weeks into the NFL season, and we already have some clear-cut favorites for the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year Awards. And some new players even threw their hats into the ring in Week 9, as several players are starting to come on strong.

15. DI Zachary Carter, Cincinnati Bengals  (72.4)

Carter had been having a really rough go of it in a rotational role until Sunday’s game against Carolina. After earning run-defense grades below 50.0 in seven of the first eight weeks, Carter earned a 73.4 grade in Week 9.

14. WR Garrett Wilson, New York Jets  (72.7)

Wilson has grabbed the reins as the WR1 in the Jets offense this season, and he caught eight balls on nine targets for 92 yards in a win over the Buffalo Bills. The funny thing is that his one “non-catch” may have been his most impressive play of the day.

13. T/G Zach Tom, Green Bay Packers (72.8)

Tom had the unenviable task of playing both right guard (13 snaps) and left tackle (32 snaps) on Sunday against the Lions. Between the two, Tom didn't allow a single pressure on 31 pass-blocking snaps. Not bad for a fourth-rounder.

12. WR Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints (72.8)

Olave is on this list seemingly every week. And this week, it was just another ho-hum six catches for 71 yards from the rookie first-rounder. With Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas sidelined of late, Olave has had no problem looking like a No. 1 receiver.

11. LB Terrel Bernard, Buffalo Bills (73.0)

Bernard filled in for likely All-Pro LB Matt Milano on Sunday, and the rookie racked up eight tackles, including two stops on the day. His five targets in coverage also resulted in only 20 yards for the Jets.

10. CB Akayleb Evans, Minnesota Vikings (73.8)

Evans played a career-high 44 snaps against the Commanders in Week 9 and responded well. He allowed only one catch on three targets for -2 yards and added a pass breakup.

9. CB Sauce Gardner, New York Jets (74.0)

Gardner may have been beaten for his worst rep of the season on a 42-yard Stefon Diggs catch, but that was all he allowed Sunday. He picked off a pass from Josh Allen and didn’t allow another catch on the day.

8. S Kyle Hamilton, Baltimore Ravens (75.1)

Hamilton makes the list for the third straight week now. He was targeted five times on Monday night against the Saints, but those five targets resulted in only 26 yards and one first down. He also hauled in what would have been his first career interception off a tipped pass, but it was called back.

7. CB Jaylon Jones, Chicago Bears (76.7)

The UDFA got involved for the first time since Week 5 on Sunday and had himself a nice little day. On 29 total snaps, he was targeted once, and that target went for a grand total of one yard.

6. DI Neil Farrell Jr., Las Vegas Raiders (76.9)

It’s not often you see defensive tackles make this list, but Farrell gets his first nod of the season. He made two tackles in the run game, including one run stop on 21 run-defense snaps.

5. CB Kader Kohou, Miami Dolphins (81.2)

The Dolphins didn’t have too many defensive bright spots in their win over the Chicago Bears, but Kohou’s play certainly qualified as one. He was targeted seven times and allowed only four catches for 19 yards. His five defensive stops led all Dolphins defenders in the game.

4. LT Ikem Ekwonu, Carolina Panthers (81.7)

This man may be the lone silver lining for the Panthers' 2022 season, as he has turned into a stud on the left side for the Panthers. Ekwonu went toe-to-toe with Trey Hendrickson over the weekend and allowed only two pressures on 33 pass-blocking snaps. He has now earned an 80.5 overall grade over his last six games.

3. RB Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans (89.3)

Pierce single-handedly kept the Texans in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. The fourth-rounder set a career-high with 139 rushing yards on 27 carries, with 102 of those coming after contact. His nine broken tackles brought his season total up to 50, the third-most in the NFL.

2. S Kerby Joseph, Detroit Lions (90.1)

Joseph had a day he won’t be forgetting anytime soon. In an upset win over the Green Bay Packers, Joseph picked off Aaron Rodgers not once but twice. He also added a key third-down pass breakup.

All three of the times he got his hands on footballs were at or next to the goal line, as Joseph did his best to keep the Packers out of the end zone.

1. RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons (90.8)

Allgeier got only 10 carries on the day, yet he still almost managed 100 yards. His 99 rushing yards marked a career-high, and he added a catch for 24 yards, too.

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