NFL Rookie Rankings Week 16: Surtain, Owusu-Koramoah, and Sewell rise

The NFL rookie rankings acknowledge the top rookies throughout the NFL season. This week, a few defenders rose in the top 10.

Going into Week 16, we see an NFL rookie rankings group that didn’t necessarily dominate the league as they’ve been all season. The top rookies in the NFL didn’t have big weeks, much like the NFL as a whole. Four of the top-10 rookies didn’t play. Others finally looked like rookies for the first time this season. But these 25 rookies have all had outstanding seasons, and they still deserve recognition, even after a down game.

Week 16 NFL Rookie Rankings | 1-5

Almost nobody in the top five had a good day at the office this week. Two didn’t play, one wishes he hadn’t, and another had their quietest game of the season in a win. And then there’s Creed Humphrey.

1) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys

There’s no denying Micah Parsons had the quietest game of his unbelievable rookie campaign. He only had 2 pressures and didn’t record a tackle in the game against the Giants. Still, he was able to make his presence felt.

Parsons saved a touchdown when he switched off a pick play in the red zone. He darted toward the front pylon, used his body as a wall without drawing too much contact with Kenny Golladay, and whipped his body around to avoid drawing a defensive pass interference call for face-guarding.

2 of his 12 pass rushes resulted in Mike Glennon’s interceptions. On the first one, the back came across the formation to help the right tackle with Parsons’ outside rush, which allowed DeMarcus Lawrence to crush Glennon. His interior rush flushed the 6-foot-7 statue outside of the pocket, which led to Trevon Diggs’ 10th INT of the season.

2) Creed Humphrey, C, Kansas City Chiefs

Humphrey’s impressive season continued against the Los Angeles Chargers when he was again essentially the equivalent of a chastity belt around Patrick Mahomes. He didn’t allow a single pressure for the game.

Humphrey isn’t just the best rookie offensive linemen in the NFL; he’s one of the best centers in the entire league. The best part is anybody who evaluated him understands this isn’t some crazy outlier. He flourished as a redshirt freshman on an incredible Oklahoma line and got better each season. Then, he tested as the most athletic center ever.

So the NFL let him fall to pick 63 because … he was left-handed?

3) Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

Rashawn Slater missed the Chargers’ biggest game of the season as the city of Los Angeles appears to be having a massive influx of positive COVID-19 cases. Unfortunately, the Chargers could not defeat their division opponents in his absence.

Justin Herbert wasn’t sacked in the game, but he wasn’t as comfortable against Kansas City as we’ve seen him with Slater in the lineup. Against a Chiefs secondary that’s vastly improved since the beginning of the season, the Chargers’ passing attack couldn’t quite do enough to knock the now-conference leaders off the AFC throne. Nevertheless, Slater’s been activated and should dominate against the Texans, keeping a stranglehold on the third spot in the NFL rookie rankings.

4) Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns

Greg Newsome II is an outstanding cornerback. He could end up being the best from an unbelievably talented class. But he’s also an endlessly knicked-up player. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Newsome only played 17 games in his three seasons at Northwestern and was only available at the Browns’ pick for that reason.

Admittedly, concussions aren’t the same as the normal minor injuries he’s sustained in his football career, but that doesn’t make it better. In fact, once that threshold is passed, it becomes easier to continue crossing it. Hopefully, Newsome can avoid future head injuries and the rest of his minor ailments because he’s one of the most electrifying man coverage cornerbacks in the NFL in Year 1.

5) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos

Every time I watch Patrick Surtain II play, I come away more and more impressed by his ability to instantly process information and recover against concepts built to beat the matching coverages Denver likes to run. His ability to see layers and communicate switches is unmatched in such a young player.

Then, he has the length and athleticism to recover and make plays on the ball. Admittedly, some of Surtain’s interceptions have been gifts, but gifts come to those who wait and are consistently in the proper position.

Week 16 NFL Rookie Rankings | 6-10

The Dolphins’ rookies didn’t play this week, and Mac Jones finds himself falling from the top five for the first time in a while now.

6) Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots

It’s far too early to know if we have a definitive answer about whether Mac Jones has the skill set to throw a team back into a football game. However, we got an answer on Saturday Night Football.

The Patriots got down early and, in turn, abandoned the rushing attack. Jakobi Meyers is an excellent wide receiver, and Kendrick Bourne has flashed in 2021, but they aren’t the consistent world-beaters Jones and the Patriots’ offense need to win on the outside consistently.

Jones also ran into a buzzsaw. New England got down early against a team specializing in taking the ball away.

7) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has taken to playing a traditional linebacker role better than I could have ever imagined. He’s still not perfect, and the physicality of the position isn’t necessarily his strong suit, but he’s a better run defender than I dreamed he’d be early on.

JOK forced a fumble against the Raiders that nearly turned the tide of the game. But it’s his athleticism and wherewithal in coverage that excites me most about his future.

As a pure off-ball linebacker, there’s an argument to be made that he’s had a better rookie season than Parsons. With a full-time workload, he’ll have every opportunity to make a push for the top five in the NFL rookie rankings.

JOK obviously doesn’t bring the physicality or pass-rush upside Parsons possesses, but he’s no slouch, either. He has 10 pressures on just 43 rushes in 2021, and he’s added 3 sacks as well.

8) Jevon Holland, S, Miami Dolphins

As a rookie, Jevon Holland has been a treat to watch patrolling the back end of the Miami defense. Unfortunately, despite being cleared from COVID protocol, Holland could not play this past week with an illness. Hopefully, he just pulled an A.J. Brown and ate a bad burrito because any long-term adverse effects from the virus would be awful to see for the productive rookie.

9) Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins

Jaylen Waddle was the perfect fit for Tua Tagovailoa. He makes everything more manageable in the Dolphins’ offense. This is especially true given the saloon-door nature of Miami’s offensive line. They’re able to manufacture touches to the electric receiver.

However, Waddle’s got some work to do now if he wants to catch the most passes ever for a rookie now that he’s missed a game. Nevertheless, he can boast that he also did it in a 16-game season if he does.

10) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase is struggling to find breathing room outside of broken plays right now. It appears his performance against Baltimore’s Marlon Humphrey made a mark because his production has tanked since that time. He’s a tremendous talent that allows the rest of the Bengals’ weapons to operate more freely.

He has plenty of time to shoot back up the rankings with games to go against Baltimore, Kansas City, and Cleveland left.

NFL Rookie Rankings Week 16 | 11-15

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

NFL Rookie Rankings Week 16 | 16-25

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

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