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    NFL Rookie Rankings Week 15: Micah Parsons strengthens DPOY case while Ja’Marr Chase rises

    The NFL rookie rankings award the top rookies this season. Micah Parsons, Creed Humphrey, and Rashawn Slater deserve All-Pro consideration.

    The NFL rookie rankings recognize the top rookies throughout the season. This is not a week-to-week award. It is cumulative, and it shows just how impressive the best rookies have been this season. It wouldn’t shock me to see multiple rookies make an All-Pro team in 2021.

    Week 15 NFL Rookie Rankings | 1-5

    The top half of the top 10 is filled with absolute gems. Four of the five jocky for a top-five spot at their position across the league, while the fifth is leading one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL.

    1) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys

    Micah Parsons is already becoming a bit of a legend as a rookie. A few weeks ago, despite his ridiculous rookie season, he wasn’t even on the board on some betting sites for Defensive Player of the Year. Now, he’s +400 on DraftKings, just behind Myles Garrett and T.J. Watt, who are both +300.

    The only rookie to win the award was Lawrence Taylor in 1981. That would be a bit poetic because many have likened Parsons to Taylor early in his career, given their versatility, speed, and violence as players.

    The Cowboys linebacker had 5 pressures and 2 sacks in just 19 pass rushes against Washington in Week 14. But he tweeted to Brian Baldinger after the game that he was “having nightmares” about missing out on a tipped interception.

    2) Creed Humphrey, C, Kansas City Chiefs

    It’s difficult to explain just how good Creed Humphrey has been for the Chiefs as a rookie. In almost any other season, he’d be at the top of this list. In fact, at one point, he was at the top, even as Parsons shined.

    Humphrey didn’t have his best game against Las Vegas. He allowed a pressure, which he hadn’t done since Week 10 against the Raiders. But talking about his ability as a pass protector is only part of the picture. He’s also an elite run blocker. His big, athletic, 320-pound frame mixed with his intellect allows him to seal rush lanes and drive defenders with ease.

    3) Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

    One of the reasons that Joe Lombardi can allow Justin Herbert to throw passes that don’t even register on the NextGenStats’ passing chart because they’re too deep is how comfortable they are with their rookie left tackle.

    We know Slater is a fantastic athlete for the position, but the smoothness and fluidity in his movements allow him to recover well even when initially beat. But his ability to open up the rushing attack is what is truly impressive.

    According to Football Outsiders, the Chargers are averaging 5.07 adjusted line yards to the left tackle when they run, which is easily the highest of any area on the team and is good for fifth in the NFL.

    Now, offensive line analytics are finicky, so take that with a grain of salt. Just watch them run the ball, and it’s clear they’re at their best on tape when running toward No. 70. He might be a top-three left tackle in the NFL already, not just a top-three rookie in the NFL rankings.

    4) Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns

    Greg Newsome II continues to play an unbelievable level of football on the outside for Cleveland. It’s incredible to see how calm he is with the ball in their air. After all, he only played in 17 college games, and he did that in the Big 10, not the Big 12 where teams air it out 40+ times a game.

    He’s so silky smooth that teams aren’t even really testing him. They’re attacking either the middle of the field (which isn’t a great idea because JOK resides there) or they’re attacking other talented secondary members, which the Browns are full of. Newsome still has plenty of chances to prove himself further with a gauntlet of good receivers coming up to finish the season.

    5) Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots

    It’s upsetting to see only one of the rookie quarterbacks on the top 25 list, but such has been this season for the ultra-talented group of signal-callers. Mac Jones was the final one drafted in the first round and the least physically gifted of the group.

    He’s come out and played exactly like we expected him to. Jones has been incredibly efficient as a rookie. Furthermore, Josh McDaniels and the Patriots coaching staff have put him in an incredible situation. Their screen game on offense is unbelievable, and Bill Belichick has somehow found diamonds in the rough in the receivers they signed in free agency.

    But Jones is also showing much more than I anticipated. He’s done more on the hoof as a rookie than he ever dreamed of having to do at Alabama. Because we didn’t see much outside of the pocket or scrambling, we didn’t know if he could do it at a level high enough to be a plus.

    Jones has come out and proved that he, too, can pick up some yards with his legs. And even when he celebrates a third-down run that ended up being 2 yards short, he showed some juice.

    Week 15 NFL Rookie Rankings | 6-10

    There are no new names in the top 10 this week, but I wouldn’t expect that to be a trend. A few in the 11-15 range could creep up over the coming weeks.

    6) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos

    Patrick Surtain II continues to show exactly why he was picked in the top 10 of the 2021 NFL Draft. His technical proficiency is unrivaled in a rookie, but we should have seen that coming. After all, he is the son of a former Pro Bowl cornerback and went to school at Alabama learning under Nick Saban.

    It doesn’t hurt that if you created a cornerback in Madden, he would probably look like Surtain. He has the length and density you dream of as a defensive backs coach, but with vast reserves of fluidity and explosiveness to boot.

    7) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

    On PFN Weekly (which you can see live on Twitch EVERY DAY at 3 PM ET), I said that Ja’Marr Chase is Joe Burrows “binkie” or blanket. Whatever Burrow used as a child for comfort even after he was way too old by usual “masculine” standards to possess.

    When the Bengals needed to fire every bullet in their magazine to beat the 49ers, Burrow went to Chase to the tune of 2 TDs and just missed out on another that the ground helped Chase secure. That was enough to jump him up in the NFL rookie rankings.

    When I said Chase reminded me of Michael Gallup during the draft process, many took that as a perceived slight. Those people were wrong.

    Gallup has an innate ability to separate at the last moment on vertical routes, and there might be just a handful of receivers with better awareness and ability around the sidelines. Chase’s ability to separate late is what makes him such a weapon.

    8) Jevon Holland, S, Miami Dolphins

    Jevon Holland and the Dolphins didn’t play this week. Nevertheless, I can’t help but sit in awe of what he’s accomplished as a rookie playing a completely different position than he did in his final few years of college at Oregon. Holland has proven his worth on multiple fronts as a defensive weapon. But his most significant impact and where he’s played most is as a free safety.

    Holland was an outrageous, physical run defender playing in the slot for Oregon, and he brings that same attitude from the Ducks to the Dolphins. He’s cerebral yet instinctive and has the athleticism to cover more than enough ground on the back end.

    9) Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins

    There isn’t anybody more bullish on Jaylen Waddle than me. He was my highest-graded wide receiver in the three seasons I’ve used a numerical grading scale, and his ceiling is the most dangerous receiver in the NFL. Miami isn’t currently using him that way for a couple of reasons, but that offense wouldn’t function without Waddle.

    He gets open at will to all three areas of the field, and his only real struggle comes from his lack of length in contested situations. If he remains on his torrent pace, he’ll break Anquan Boldin’s rookie record of 101 catches. Hopefully, he does that in just 16 games because we don’t want to even think about the record with an extra game. Waddle didn’t do anything to drop in the NFL rookie rankings; Chase simply jumped the two Dolphins during their bye week.

    10) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns

    Watching Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah move at the linebacker position is wild. He’s not Parsons explosive, as they move differently. JOK is fluid and rangy, whereas Parsons is explosive and violent in his speed. The young linebacker’s biggest positive comes in coverage. Heck, JOK practically played slot/safety at Notre Dame.

    The biggest surprise is how quick his trigger has been against the run. He’s intuitive and intelligent. It’s the only explanation for his early success because he certainly doesn’t have the lifetime reps in the box to be so quick to the ball.

    NFL Rookie Rankings Week 15 | 11-15

    11) Trey Smith, G, Kansas City Chiefs
    12) Jaelan Phillips, OLB, Miami Dolphins
    13) Christian Barmore, DT, New England Patriots
    14) Penei Sewell, OT, Detroit Lions
    15) Kwity Paye, DE, Indianapolis Colts

    NFL Rookie Rankings Week 15 | 16-25

    16) Nate Hobbs, CB, Las Vegas Raiders
    17) Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons
    18) Odafe Oweh, OLB, Baltimore Ravens
    19) DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
    20) Pete Werner, LB, New Orleans Saints
    21) Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants
    22) Azeez Ojulari, OLB, New York Giants
    23) Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
    24) Eric Stokes, CB, Green Bay Packers
    25) Alim McNeill, DT, Detroit Lions

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