NFL Rookie Rankings Week 8: Ja’Marr Chase and Rashawn Slater continue to impress

The NFL Rookie Rankings saw a bit of a shift heading into Week 8. Who are the top NFL rookies after 7 weeks, and who holds the crown?

The NFL Rookie Rankings acknowledge the top first-year performers over the course of the season. This is a cumulative, not week-to-week, ranking. The top NFL rookies look like a future All-Pro Team, not in the distant future, but sooner rather than later. We even had a bit of a shakeup at the top for the first time in quite a while — and it wasn’t the previous crown holder’s fault.

NFL Rookie Rankings Week 8 | 1-10

These players in the top 10 aren’t just some of the top rookies in the NFL. They are some of the most gifted and most productive players at their positions throughout the NFL.

1) Ja’Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

I had pretty much deleted all doubt in my mind about Ja’Marr Chase heading into the Bengals’ intradivisional matchup against the division-leading (at the time) Ravens. However, Marlon Humphrey is one of the best and most consistent cornerbacks in the NFL, and Chase had him listening to Drake with a glass of $500 Malbec after the game.

Chase went for 200+ yards against one of the best in the league. The degree of difficulty was there on nearly every rep. Yet, just like at LSU, it didn’t matter if Chase appeared covered like a blanket — that ball was his.

He went to the perfect situation with his former college teammate in Joe Burrow. He would not be having this success in Philadelphia or Miami. But I still think Chase is far and away the best in the class at this point.

He’s a stud and more than deserving of the crown among the rest of the top NFL rookies.

2) Creed Humphrey, OC, Kansas City Chiefs

Creed Humphrey didn’t do anything wrong to fall a spot. He’s remained the consistent bright spot on Kansas City’s offense. He’s been dominant as a pass protector and as a run blocker. Even though he isn’t as physically imposing as his running mate Trey Smith, Humphrey executes at an insanely high level. That’s an excellent way to remain high in the NFL Rookie Rankings.

Despite the horrific nature of the Chiefs’ offense on Sunday, Humphrey was not responsible. He allowed 1 hurry, which was the only pressure he gave up on the day in 64 pass-blocking snaps. That makes his lone sack allowed to one of the most dominant interior defenders in the game, Javon Hargrave, his only misstep.

We’re talking about an All-Pro level season from the first-year player, and the Chiefs drafted him at the end of Round 2.

3) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys

Micah Parsons didn’t play this week, and we were all worse off for it. He’s been a treat to watch in multiple roles across six games. However, he played 100% of the snaps in the Cowboys’ last game and only rushed the passer 9 times.

As the great Texan Matthew McConaughey once said during his role in The Wolf of Wall Street, “those are rookie numbers.” We have to get those numbers up. Parsons would be best off playing a hybrid role because there have been times he’s struggled in coverage.

4) Rashawn Slater, OT, Los Angeles Chargers

Again, we were worse off as football fans because we didn’t get to see Rashawn Slater protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside this week. Heck, we last saw him against the Baltimore Ravens, where he pitched a statistical shutout against a good defense a week after surviving against the NFL’s resident alien, Myles Garrett.

Slater hasn’t only been solid as a pass protector, either. No, he’s also been outstanding as a run blocker, freeing up rushing lanes for Austin Ekeler. Ekeler has only 13 attempts outside of the left tackle this season, but he’s averaging over 8 yards on those touches. In fact, both of his longest runs of the season have come from that direction.

Many people had Slater as a cleaner prospect than Penei Sewell, and to that group, I tip my cap. He remains high in the NFL Rookie Rankings.

5) Azeez Ojulari, OLB, New York Giants

Azeez Ojulari’s 5.5 sacks are 2.5 more than any other rookie in the NFL through seven games. His overall pressure statistics don’t compete with others in the group, but he also doesn’t have the reps others do. Additionally, his pressure rate is higher than the other pass rushers on this list.

Ojulari is making the most of the opportunities he’s receiving. His bend and burst have been a problem for teams, and he’s still winning on the outside with a nearly perfected hanging-rip move to soften rush angles.

6) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns

JOK is a missile, and his work in coverage early in his career has been exquisite. He’s defended 4 passes already this season, even though he didn’t play more than 35 snaps in a game until Weeks 5 and 6.

Unfortunately, he’ll fall in the rankings moving forward because of time missed. Still, it was necessary to acknowledge his excellence before his high ankle sprain reduces his snap count to the point of removing him from the NFL Rookie Rankings.

7) Osa Odighizuwa, DT, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys’ third-round steal had his least productive game as a pro against the New England Patriots. Yet, it’ll take more than one down game to remove Osa Odighizuwa from the top 10. He’s been a menace as a pass rusher, and he’s played far more assertive against the run than we expect from a sub-300-pounder.

But now the pressure is on the young defensive tackle. There are too many promising rookies pressing him for a spot in the top 10. If he has another slow game against Minnesota’s awful interior offensive line, there will be no choice but to drop him from the top 10 of the NFL Rookie Rankings.

8) Odafe Oweh, OLB, Baltimore Ravens

No rookie has produced more pressure than Odafe Oweh, but he’s played an extra game and has by far the largest body of work, so his production is a bit of a volume stat. Nevertheless, Oweh has been outstanding as a rookie, which is something I admittedly completely disregarded as a possibility before the draft.

It just amazed me that a one-of-one athlete at the position could have success despite being as raw as an uncooked piece of meat. I was naive, but I also acknowledged that the situation is important. Oweh plays hard, something we’ve grown to expect from the Baltimore Ravens organization.

His willingness to improve his pass-rush repertoire has shown, but his work against the run is my favorite part of his game. That’s actually something Oweh largely succeeded at in Penn State, and that trend has continued at the next level. This young man has All-Pro potential and is already one of the top NFL rookies.

9) Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts is really good at football. Who could have guessed that, aside from every single budding NFL Draft analyst in the world that wasn’t simply looking to get clicks from a hot take? We knew Pitts was special.

Even so, it usually takes some time for tight ends to transition at the NFL level. Couple that with Arthur Smith’s résumé with Jonnu Smith, and worry crept in for the Florida legend in Year 1. It took an injury to Calvin Ridley for Pitts to find his voice in the offense. But my oh my, he’s been LOUD since.

The young man — and I do mean young man (he turned 21 on October 6) — has amassed 282 receiving yards in the past two weeks. At this rate, we’ll have no choice but to continue raising him in the NFL Rookie Rankings.

10) Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns

One could argue that Greg Newsome is the more impressive cornerback in Cleveland’s duo. He also might deserve higher accreditation on this list of top NFL rookies, but he missed time due to injury. Thus, he has to win our trust back as his snaps continue to rise.

Firstly, Newsome is so good that he’s not even being targeted on a defense with Denzel Ward, Troy Hill, John Johnson III, Greedy Williams, Ronnie Harrison, and Grant Delpit. What?!?!

Secondly, only Jaycee Horn allowed fewer receptions per snap than Newsome. The Northwestern product hasn’t missed a tackle yet, and in 147 coverage snaps, he’s only allowed 115 yards receiving. His movement skills were his calling card, and he was already a good technician coming out. Health was always the question, and in many ways, it still is.

One thing we know for sure is Newsome is one of the most gifted cornerbacks in the NFL.

NFL Rookie Rankings Week 8 | 11-25

These are the NFL rookies that just missed out on the top 10 but still deserve recognition for their early contributions.

11) Josh Myers, OC, Green Bay Packers
12) Patrick Surtain II, CB, Denver Broncos
13) Eric Stokes, CB, Green Bay Packers
14) Nate Hobbs, CB, Las Vegas Raiders
15) Gregory Rousseau, DE, Buffalo Bills

16) Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Los Angeles Chargers
17) Samuel Cosmi, OT, Washington Football Team
18) Alim McNeill, DT, Detroit Lions
19) Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants
20) Penei Sewell, OT, Detroit Lions

21) Mac Jones, QB, New England Patriots
22) Trey Smith, OG, Kansas City Chiefs
23) DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
24) Pete Werner, LB, New Orleans Saints
25) Zaven Collins, LB, Arizona Cardinals

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