Front-runners are emerging for Rookie of the Year on both sides of the ball with Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season now in the books. While the highest-graded players on offense and defense are a center (Creed Humphrey) and a rotational linebacker (Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah), respectively, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons have dominated the headlines for their play.
Let’s take a look at the storylines for this rookie class ahead of Week 6.
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Key Takeaways From NFL Week 5
The race for QB1 in the 2021 class has been a game of who can make fewer mistakes. Of the three rookie quarterbacks who have started every game, all rank in the top six in terms of most turnover-worthy plays. While the New England Patriots‘ Mac Jones is still grading out the highest (73.5), he’s averaging the same yards per attempt as the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ Trevor Lawrence and the New York Jets‘ Zach Wilson despite a completion percentage over 10 points higher than each. It’s not been pretty for the group.
A Special Crop at the Top
If you take away the quarterback position, which is a different animal altogether, the top of the 2021 NFL Draft has had very few duds. In fact, you have to go all the way down to Pick No. 17 (Alex Leatherwood, Las Vegas Raiders) before you find a non-quarterback who is either struggling to see playing time or grading out poorly. Many of the players billed as blue-chips in this class — Kyle Pitts, Ja’Marr Chase and Micah Parsons, to name a few — are living up to the hype in a big way.
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More Rookie Linemen
Eighteen different rookie offensive linemen played at least 20 snaps this past weekend — the most of any week this year, unsurprisingly. Christian Darrisaw‘s NFL debut for the Minnesota Vikings is to thank for that, as he split time with Rashod Hill at left tackle en route to a 60.0 overall grade. And very few of those rookies looked like liabilities in Week 5, with only six of the 18 earning grades below 60.0.