NFL Rookie Rankings Week 5: Humphrey climbs, Oweh impresses, and Odighizuwa has arrived

The NFL rookie rankings look to acknowledge the top performers from the 2021 NFL Draft class. Who rose and fell after Week 4's action?

The top NFL rookies in the rankings have all wowed us so far in 2021 — and not just among rookies. No, some of these young men have competed with the best in the league at their positions and have faced some of the toughest competition. It’s impressive to see cornerbacks, offensive tackles, and centers flourishing as they are not traditionally easy transitions.

NFL rookie rankings Week 5 | 1-10

Who are the top 10 rookies heading into Week 5?

1) Greg Newsome, CB, Cleveland Browns

The hardest part about these rookie rankings is weighing snaps and games played into the equation. I believe firmly that Newsome has been the best rookie in the NFL, but he missed the last game against the Vikings. However, he still has played just 24 fewer defensive snaps than Patrick Surtain. That’s hardly enough to bump him off his throne, right?

Maybe if Micah Parsons would have absolutely dominated against the Panthers, but he was asked to do … everything … in that game, and his overall effectiveness was slightly lower.

Newsome must return quickly, or he will lose his throne to someone. It’s not like there aren’t worthy performances to place up there.

2) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys

Against the Panthers, Parsons appeared to begin on the edge. But then, the Cowboys swiftly transitioned him back into an off-ball linebacker role, where he remained for most of the contest.

Carolina was bludgeoning the Cowboys with the run game and passing attack over the middle. From a matchup standpoint, it didn’t make sense to allow Sam Darnold and company to pick apart Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch, so the Cowboys quickly adjusted.

From the live viewing, he didn’t make the same impact he had on the previous three games, but the Cowboys desperately needed his skill set on the field against Joe Brady’s offense.

3) Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

Slater continued to play well as a pass protector against the Las Vegas Raiders. On a night where the rest of the Chargers’ offensive line seemed to struggle, Slater continued to impress. Even Mekhi Becton gave him props during the game.

Against the group consisting of Yannick Ngakoue, Maxx Crosby, and Carl Nassib, that is quite a seal of approval. Slater hit the ground running for Los Angeles, and he hasn’t slowed down yet.

4) Creed Humphrey, C, Kansas City Chiefs

Humphrey allowed his first sack of the NFL season on the only pressure he’s allowed so far as a rookie. Still, he rose in the NFL rookie rankings because he had such a difficult assignment against the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive interior. Yet, he performed wonderfully.

Seriously, facing Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox as a rookie is about as terrifying as it gets as a center. Because of their top-tier abilities, Humphrey’s off-hand must be near perfect. On Sunday afternoon, it nearly was.

On one rep, Hargrave took advantage of Humphrey’s snap hand, lifting the wrist and ripping through for a quick sack of Patrick Mahomes. Aside from that one rep, Humphrey did more than just hold his own against two of the best interior defenders in the game.

5) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Chase didn’t continue his touchdown streak against the Jaguars, but he did catch 6 of his 9 targets for 77 yards. It’s the first time as a pro that he was held to less than 13 yards per target in a game. Chase has been an outstanding downfield weapon for the Bengals so far in 2021, netting him in the middle of the top 10 for NFL rookie rankings since Week 1.

He’s currently on pace for nearly 1,300 yards receiving and a double-digit touchdown season. That’s not too bad for someone who reportedly couldn’t catch a pro football just over a month ago.

6) Odafe Oweh, OLB, Baltimore Ravens

Oweh might be my biggest miss as a draft evaluator to date, and I’m absolutely ecstatic about this development. Oweh was objectively the freakiest athlete to come out of the Penn State athlete factory. But his college tape showed massive concerns as a pass rusher, and I didn’t bet blindly on the upside.

Well, he’s proved me wrong in a big way as a rookie. What he’s doing now is just the beginning of what could be a stellar career. His sack in Week 4 raised his standing in the NFL rookie rankings. He put together a heck of a rush, using his inside arm to convert speed to power before ripping through and softening the rush angle on his way to a sack.

And one thing that I didn’t always see at PSU that’s overt in his professional performances is how hard he plays. He’s one of the top rookies based on pure drive and desire. Once he sharpens his technical repertoire, it could be game over for opposing tackles.

7) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns

I’m still disgusted that JOK isn’t playing 60 defensive snaps a game. He’s played football at an outrageous level so far, but he’s yet to crack the 40-snap mark for the Browns.

I guess that makes sense, given their current linebackers are Ray Lewis and Brian Urlach … wait … no, they aren’t!

I’m not sure why he’s coming off the field, but he’s going to continue to prove that he shouldn’t. He’s simply too talented not to.

8) Josh Myers, C, Green Bay Packers

Myers is another draft prospect that came into the NFL and looked almost exactly as we thought he could. Myers was never an overwhelming athlete. He was never the most powerful blocker in the world, but he was always in the correct position to seal rush lanes and protect the passer.

The speed and power of the NFL game haven’t changed that for Myers. He’s still sealing rush lanes with ease, and he’s anchored well against interior rushers so far in 2021. We should see more of the same against Cincinnati next week, but he’ll face difficult tests against Chicago and Washington the following weeks.

9) Osa Odighizuwa, DT, Dallas Cowboys

I’m stunned at just how dominant Odighizuwa has been as a Dallas Cowboy. He’s in the top 10 of the NFL rookie rankings because he is consistently causing problems for interior offensive linemen. His length is a weapon, and he’s much more explosive than I gave him credit for. Competent interior defensive line play is foreign to the Cowboys, so this has taken some time to sink in.

With 15 pressures through four games, he’s second to only teammate Micah Parsons among rookies. That puts him alongside names like Nick Bosa, Chris Jones, Kenny Clark, and Chandler Jones for the season. At first, it seemed like a flash. Now, it appears he’s here to stay.

He had potential, and it seems he’s realized some of it already.

10) Azeez Ojulari, OLB, New York Giants

Not having Ojulari higher last week was regretful. After going back and focusing on his tape, he’s been the player many of us expected out of Georgia. He’s a pass rusher who has a few moves he’s nearly perfected that he can win with on a semi-consistent basis. Yet, he may struggle a bit when forced to face bigger tackles.

But it’s impossible to argue with his production. Ojulari hasn’t stacked up with the likes of Micah Parsons, but he’s outperformed the others from the EDGE class, just like he believed he could. Hopefully, whatever it was that made him fall in the draft doesn’t ever show up.

NFL rookie rankings Week 5 | 11-25

11) Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Los Angeles Chargers
12) Trey Smith, G, Kansas City Chiefs
13) Penei Sewell, OT, Detroit Lions
14) Samuel Cosmi, OT, Washington Football Team
15) DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

16) Gregory Rousseau, DE, Buffalo Bills
17) Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals
18) Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
19) Kendrick Green, C, Pittsburgh Steelers
20) Nate Hobbs, CB, Las Vegas Raiders

21) Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots
22) Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos
24) Trevon Moehrig, S, Las Vegas Raiders
25) Alijah Vera-Tucker, G, New York Jets

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