NFL Rookie Rankings Week 10: Top five shuffles while Nate Hobbs joins the list

The NFL Rookie Rankings recognize the top rookies in the NFL over the course of the season. Who has performed the best through Week 9?

There was some slight movement inside the top five of the NFL Rookie Rankings for Week 10. The top rookies all performed well, but individual performances are changing their stock within the top five. It’s pretty set up top — it would take massive performances over the next few weeks for someone else to sneak into the top half of the list. The top five rookies are playing at Pro Bowl levels, and the NFL is better for it.

Week 10 NFL Rookie Rankings | 1-5

It’s unbelievable to think that three of the top five rookies in the NFL didn’t even play college football in 2020 after opting out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They made the jump from unbelievable sophomores to unbelievable pros despite missing a whole calendar year on the field!

1) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons is becoming ridiculous to watch out there. He was the only real bright spot on the Cowboys’ roster yesterday. However, his No. 1 ranking comes solely from the post-game press conference.

After a tough loss, he said he was going to go home and cuddle his pup. I’ve never related to a professional athlete the way I did with Parsons at that moment. If Creed Humphrey wants to regain his top spot, he better tell a cow-tipping story or talk about his dogs.

I kid. Parsons had 2.5 sacks blitzing from the A gap on Sunday, and he made splash plays against the run left and right. He now has 14 stops in the past two games, which means he’s not only making tackles, but he’s making tackles that matter.

I’m still upset, though. Parsons played more than double the number of snaps in coverage than he did as a pass rusher. The man had 2.5 sacks, and he only rushed Teddy Bridgewater 9 times.

Parsons could redefine the linebacker position, but the coaches have to use him to his best abilities. He needs to be shooting gaps and rushing off the edge more than he currently is. He’s too explosive not to be tasked with getting after quarterbacks. His speed, violence, and usage put him at the top of the NFL Rookie Rankings.

2) Creed Humphrey, C, Kansas City Chiefs

He might as well be perfect. Humphrey continues to make NFL evaluators look foolish after they let him drop to the end of the second round. He had excellent college tape from his redshirt freshman season on and then went out and tested as the most athletic center of all time.

Once again, Humphrey didn’t allow anybody to sniff Patrick Mahomes, let alone touch him. He has only 3 penalties on the season and has allowed just 7 pressures overall. The Packers’ interior didn’t have anything for Humphrey on Sunday, even if Green Bay’s defense as a whole had its way with the Chiefs’ offense.

3) Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

After Tristan Wirfs and Jedrick Wills last season, we were foolish to expect another rookie performance as clean as theirs. But Rashawn Slater might be outdoing both of those first-year campaigns.

He’s not the freak athlete Wirfs is, nor does he have the length of either blocker. But Slater is a technical masterpiece. He utilizes multiple strikes on the outside and is a fantastic athlete for the position. Thus, his ability to recover shines when he does initially get beat.

That doesn’t often happen, though. Since his “welcome to the NFL” moment against Myles Garrett (in which he more than held his own), Slater has been nearly flawless. He’s allowed just 2 total pressures in the past three weeks.

It’s becoming difficult to depict Slater’s dominance accurately. But since it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere, I shall retreat to my thesaurus to come up with more to say about him going forward.

4) Greg Newsome, CB, Cleveland Browns

Greg Newsome is already a pro on the outside. He’s everything you’d expect from a dominant cover cornerback, right down to the business decisions he makes whenever a much larger man attempts to block him.

Aside from his somewhat questionable edge setting, Newsome has been absolutely flawless. Everything he does looks easy. He moves effortlessly. He explodes gracefully. And he contests the ball perfectly. He belongs high in the NFL Rookie Rankings.

Cornerbacks are put in a nearly impossible spot in the NFL. The league’s rules are specifically tailored to make their jobs more difficult. The fact that a young man with 17 games of college experience could be this refined is mind-boggling.

This week, Newsome faced a gauntlet of Tee Higgins and fellow rookie Ja’Marr Chase, and he came out on top. Since Newsome and Chase are having similarly impressive seasons, I felt it necessary to highlight Newsome’s greatness before someone eventually bests him — because it happens to the even best cornerbacks every once in a while.

5) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Honestly, Chase dropping three spots has little to do with his two pedestrian performances in a row. Instead, it’s based on just how closely matched the top rookies have been and how well the others continue to perform.

Chase will win Offensive Rookie of the Year in a landslide. They don’t give those awards to linemen. He’ll also push for the most remarkable rookie receiver season ever, which shows just how freaky the rest of the rookie group has been.

Week 10 NFL Rookie Rankings | 6-10

Patrick Surtain was playing his way into the top five, but a knee sprain will keep him from climbing any higher — at least for now. Kyle Pitts could elevate his status, but it would take more monster weeks (like the ones he had a few weeks ago).

6) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos

Surtain was a boring prospect. In a complicated Nick Saban system, he was always in the right place at the right time in the right uniform. He’d make a hell of an infantryman. His technical proficiency is no accident. It comes from his father, who was a one-time All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowler. It also comes from Alabama, where Surtain received the best secondary coaching in the world.

College teams didn’t throw his way, which made his tape uninteresting. In the NFL, teams are trying to — and it’s not going well for them.

Surtain possesses the perfect frame and athleticism for the cornerback position. It’s funny how similar he and Jaycee Horn tested, given the differences in how they move on the field.

Alongside safety Justin Simmons, Surtain has been the bright spot in the Broncos’ secondary. Against a dangerous Cowboys roster, he looked as good as ever. Unfortunately, his knee injury probably forces him to drop in the NFL Rookie Rankings moving forward.

7) Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons

Pitts hasn’t produced like a freak in his last two outings, but his freakish athleticism has been on full display for weeks. He had a big drop against the Saints in Week 9, but he still averaged over 20 yards per catch, which is a ridiculous number for a tight end.

Related | NFL Power Rankings Week 10: Jaguars, Giants, and Broncos prove “any given Sunday” is real

Only David Njoku averages more yards per catch than Pitts, who’s averaged 15.2 ypc for the year. His post-catch ability was on full display against New Orleans when he caught a deep crosser and nearly outran Marshon Lattimore down the sideline.

8) Azeez Ojulari, OLB, New York Giants

Azeez Ojulari isn’t winning as often as some of the other rookies on a per-play basis, but he’s playing far more snaps overall — and his production is better compared to the other high-snap rookies on the edge.

His flexibility and explosion are his calling cards. I would have liked to see him be a bit more productive against a bad Panthers offensive line, and that’s why he slips in the NFL Rookie Rankings. But Ojulari still has as good a résumé as any pass-rushing rookie, which keeps him firmly in the top 10.

9) Nate Hobbs, CB, Las Vegas Raiders

Nate Hobbs, because of his fifth-round draft status, hasn’t been discussed often in the pantheon of the rookie class. But he deserves recognition for his slot performance. The Raiders defense shouldn’t be nearly as productive as it is, and hitting on Hobbs is a big reason for their success.

This past week, he finally made his presence felt outside of his coverage ability by pressuring Daniel Jones 4 times and sacking him once. More than 90% of the yards he’s given up in coverage have come after the catch. Teams aren’t testing Hobbs anywhere past the line of scrimmage.

10) Osa Odighizuwa, DT, Dallas Cowboys

Osa Odighizuwa might not last another week on the list, but he retains his top-10 status through Week 9. He played well against the Broncos’ interior, but he hasn’t splashed as a pass rusher in recent weeks the way he had early on.

The interior defender has lost a bit of pace, and with the Chiefs and Saints coming up for Dallas in the next four weeks, it’s tough to see him receiving an uptick in production. Maybe a Saint or Chief will usurp him in the top 10. If Odafe Oweh hadn’t struggled against an underwhelming Vikings tackle group, he would have been at No. 10 instead of Odighizuwa. It was that tight.

NFL Rookie Rankings Week 10 | 11-15

11) Odafe Oweh, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
12) Pete Werner, LB, New Orleans Saints
13) Trey Smith, OG, Kansas City Chiefs
14) Eric Stokes, CB, Green Bay Packers
15) Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Los Angeles Chargers

NFL Rookie Rankings Week 10 | 16-25

16) Gregory Rousseau, DE, Buffalo Bills
17) DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
18) Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
19) Penei Sewell, OT, Detroit Lions
20) Jevon Holland, S, Miami Dolphins

21) Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals
22) Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants
23) Khalil Herbert, RB, Chicago Bears
24) Alijah Vera-Tucker, OG, New York Jets
25) Trevon Moehrig, S, Las Vegas Raiders

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