News & Analysis

2018 NFL rookie rankings through Week 7

Aug 25, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Derwin James (33) during a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at StubHub Center. The Saints defeated the Chargers 36-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

All season long we’ve been updating you on where the 2018 rookies stand in the race for PFF’s Rookie of the Year award, and seeing as it’s Wednesday, that means it’s time to update the top-10 (and honorable mentions) following Week 7. Just like last week, we are split within the top-10 with five players coming from the offensive side of the football and five coming from the defensive side, with one newcomer in the group. Without further ado, here’s where they currently stand:

1.  Baker Mayfield, QB,  Cleveland Browns

PFF Overall Grade: 83.7

The number one overall pick rebounded in Week 7, posting a good 72.1 overall game grade against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after posting his lowest game grade to date (61.6) in Week 6. Baker has now earned a grade of at least 70.0 in four of the five games he’s played in this season, surpassing the 80.0 mark in three of those games. For the season, Baker ranks ninth among quarterbacks in terms of overall grade and his 80.0 passing grade ranks 11th. Baker ranks fourth among all quarterbacks with a 7.7 big time throw percentage, and he’s been one of the best deep ball passers in the league, earning a 95.5 passing grade so far on throws that have traveled at least 20 yards in the air, trailing only Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers and Jared Goff 

2. Derwin James, S, Los Angeles Chargers

PFF Overall Grade: 82.8

James ranks eighth among the 93 safeties league-wide who’ve played at least 100 defensive snaps this season in terms of overall grade, and he’s one of just three safeties to rank within the top-20 in run defense, pass rush and coverage grades. James is tied for fifth among all safeties with four forced incompletions this season and opposing QBs have just a 74.4 passer rating when targeting him as the primary defender in coverage. He’s also one of 15 safeties who’ve recorded at least three tackles for loss (or no gain) in run defense, and he leads all safeties with 11 total pressures as a pass rusher.

3. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Dallas Cowboys

PFF Overall Grade: 84.1

In terms of overall grade, Vander Esch currently ranks fourth among 93 linebackers who’ve seen at least 100 defensive snaps this season, and he’s one of five linebackers this season (joining Bobby Wagner, Luke Kuechly, Lavonte David and Zach Brown) who currently rank within the top-10 among linebackers in both run defense and coverage grades. With just a 3.2% missed tackle percentage to his name, Vander Esch is one of just five linebackers this season who’ve recorded at least 40 tackles with a missed tackle percentage lower than 5.0%.

4. Da’Shawn Hand, DI, Detroit Lions

PFF Overall Grade: 89.6

Hand currently ranks ninth out of 117 interior defenders who’ve seen at least 100 defensive snaps this season, and his 88.0 pass-rushing grade ranks fourth among the group. The fourth-round pick has been a consistent force among Detroit’s defensive line, earning overall grades of at least 77.6 in five of six games so far this season. Out of 139 interior defenders who’ve rushed the QB at least 25 times this season, the former Alabama star ranks 16th with an 11.7% pressure percentage, and he’s one of just three interior defenders to have recorded multiple strip sacks.

5. Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns

PFF Overall Grade: 80.8

Out of the 121 cornerbacks who’ve played at least 100 defensive snaps this season, Ward ranks fifth in terms of overall grade, and he ranks third with an 85.4 coverage grade. Ward’s 13 combined forced incompletions and interceptions are the second-most by a corner this season and opposing quarterbacks have just a 61.3 passer rating when targeting him as the primary defender in coverage, the 14th lowest rating surrendered by a cornerback through seven weeks.

6. Mike McGlinchey, T, San Francisco 49ers

PFF Overall Grade: 78.4

McGlinchey currently ranks ninth among 79 offensive tackles who’ve recorded at least 100 offensive snaps in terms of overall grade, and his 87.2 run blocking grade is nearly a tier higher than any other tackle league-wide (Terron Armstead is second at 80.4). The ninth overall pick has had some struggles in pass protection to start his career – his 95.8 pass-blocking efficiency rating ranks 52nd among tackles – but he’s shown some improvement, earning a 97.0 PBE over his last four games after posting a 94.7 PBE in Weeks 2 and 3 (omitting Week 1 when he played out of position at guard).

7. Saquon Barkley, HB, New York Giants

PFF Overall Grade: 79.3

The second overall pick currently ranks sixth among running backs in terms of overall grade, and he’s one of just three backs this season who rank within the top-10 in both rushing and receiving grade. Barkley ranks fourth among backs in terms of elusive rating (ER measures the impact of a runner with the ball independently of the blocking in front of him by looking at how hard he was to bring down), and he’s earned 61.5% of his rushing yards on runs that went for at least 15 yards, the second-highest rate among all backs.

8. Maurice Hurst, DI, Oakland Raiders

PFF Overall Grade: 82.4

Hurst currently ranks 16th among the 117 interior defenders who’ve seen at least 100 defensive snaps this season in terms of overall grade, and he’s one of just 14 interior defenders who currently owns a run defense and pass-rush grade of at least 70.0. It took Hurst a couple of games to get acclimated to the NFL, but he’s graded north of 70.0 in every game he’s played since we entered Week 3. Hurst has shown an early penchant for getting his hands up to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage, as he’s currently tied for the lead among all interior defenders with three batted passes.

9. Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons

PFF Overall Grade: 72.5

Ridley currently ranks 22nd among the 105 wide receivers who’ve seen at least 100 passing down snaps this season in terms of receiving grade. The first-round pick ranks 23rd among receivers with an average of 1.95 yards per route run, is second among receivers by converting 72.2% of his targets into either a first down or touchdown and the 12 combined first downs and touchdowns that he’s picked up on either third or fourth down this season are the fifth most among receivers.

10. Kerryon Johnson, HB, Detroit Lions

PFF Overall Grade: 79.8

Johnson ranks fifth among HBs in terms of overall grade and he, like Barkley, is one of three running backs this season who rank within the top-10 in both rushing and receiving grade (Barkley has more than doubled Johnson’s snap count to date if you’re currently wondering why Barkley is ahead of him on this list). Out of the 41 running backs who’ve run the ball at least 50 times this season, Johnson is tied for ninth with a first down/touchdown rate of 25.0% and his average of 3.4 yards gained after contact is tied for seventh.

Honorable Mentions:

Darius Leonard, LB, Indianapolis Colts

Will Hernandez, G, New York Giants

Phillip Lindsay, HB, Denver Broncos

Jessie Bates, S, Cincinnati Bengals

Braden Smith, T, Indianapolis Colts

Taron Johnson, CB, Buffalo Bills

Nick Chubb, HB, Cleveland Browns

Harold Landry, EDGE, Tennessee Titans

Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

Genard Avery, EDGE, Cleveland Browns

Quenton Nelson, G, Indianapolis Colts

Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers

Josey Jewell, LB, Denver Broncos

JK Scott, P, Green Bay Packers

Deadrin Senat, DI, Atlanta Falcons

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