NFL News & Analysis

Top 10 NFL rookies entering Week 5

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 02: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys changes a play at the line of scrimmage during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 2, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

With Week 4 in the books, we've witnessed one of the largest shakeups in PFF's race for rookie of the year yet. Four new faces make the list, including three players in the secondary. Of course, it's the quarterbacks that still reign supreme.

1. Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles

Status quo here at the top, as Wentz rests on his impressive laurels with the bye week. Feel free to read our take on the rookie's play to date here.

2. Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

Week 4 brought Prescott’s lowest-graded game so far this season after a dropped interception and little in the way of downfield passing. Still, there is very little to quibble about, as the rookie’s poise and efficiency have been superb through four games. He’s completed 56.1 percent of his passes when facing pressure, the sixth-best figure in the league.

3. Jack Conklin, RT, Titans

It’s only four games in, but the Titans look like they have a good one on their hands. Conklin is the second-highest graded right tackle in the NFL, and has surrendered just six total pressures all year. He’s also keyed a Tennessee run game that has given DeMarco Murray 2.5 yards prior to contact this season.

4. Rashard Robinson, CB, 49ers

A newcomer shoots up the list after dominating in his first extended action of the season. Robinson recorded 45 snaps through the first three weeks before playing 67 against Dallas on Sunday. In that game, he was targeted six times, allowing only three catches for 20 yards to go along with three pass breakups. After Robinson was one of the highest-graded corners in the preseason, it’s time to start asking if the fourth-round pick is the real deal.

5. Will Fuller, WR, Texans

After an ugly outing against the Patriots, Fuller bounced back with a seven-catch, 81-yard outing against the Titans that included a game-winning punt-return touchdown. The concerns over whether or not he could be anything besides a deep threat in the NFL seem completely unfounded at this point. And even though he’ll likely always have his issues with drops, Fuller has only been unable to haul in two of his 21 catchable targets this year—a manageable rate.

6. Karl Joseph, S, Raiders

Joseph has played so well over the past two weeks that Raiders fans have to ask the question: what took so long? Joseph was benched before Week 1 in favor of Keith McGill, who then proceeded to surrender six-of-six targets into his coverage for 98 yards against the Falcons in Week 2 before ceding the job back to Joseph. Since then, the rookie has been beyond solid, racking up four stops and missing only one tackle.

7. Jatavis Brown, LB, Chargers

It’s the year of the Day 3 pick, as we see another Saturday selection make the top-10. Jatavis is currently grading above-average in run defense, coverage, and when rushing the passer. With that kind of production, the Chargers' coaching staff has taken notice, moving him to a full-time role after the season-ending injury to Manti Te’o, instead of limiting the rookie to sub-packages. He played 68 snaps against the Saints, and is currently PFF's 25th highest-graded linebacker.

8. Brian Poole, CB, Falcons

Brian Poole was an afterthought a season ago in the Florida secondary that featured first-round picks Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal, along with possible future first-rounders in Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor, and Quincy Wilson. Poole actually has a bigger role with the Falcons than he did with the Gators in 2015, and he’s making the most of it. His 0.91 yards per coverage snap mark is 21st among corners in the league, and the best of any rookie full-time starter.

9. Cody Whitehair, C, Bears

Outside of four penalties now in four games, there’s not much Bears fans can complain about with their new center. Whitehair has surrendered only five pressures, and currently owns the seventh-highest run-blocking grade at the position.

10. Michael Pierce, DT, Ravens

If you don’t recognize the name, don’t worry. I only first heard about Michael Pierce leading into Week 1 after he had one of the top pass-rushing grades in the preseason. Pierce went undrafted out of Samford, yet has thrived early on in a sub-package role. The Baltimore DT has six pressures in 48 pass-rushes this season, and has performed well week after week.


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