Teams and fans alike have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as we head into Week 12 and the NFL Rookie Rankings Week 12 edition. Personally, I’m most thankful for the exciting first-year players who represent the bright future of the NFL. However, these thanks don’t come without somber news, as we lost Bengals’ star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to a knee injury. While we at PFN wish Burrow a successful and speedy recovery, I’ve decided to remove Burrow from these rankings to allow other rookies a chance to get some of the spotlight. However, let it be known that Burrow played like one of the top NFL rookie quarterbacks ever, on a team that had no business looking competitive in any game. Hopefully, for Burrow’s sake, Cincinnati’s front office and coaching staff can help solidify the offensive line before returning from his injury. Meanwhile, top NFL rookies like Justin Herbert and Justin Jefferson continue to rise in these NFL rookie rankings for Week 12 of the 2020 season.
NFL Rookie Rankings Week 12 | Top 10 NFL Rookies
1. Tristan Wirfs, OT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tristan Wirfs continues his reign as the NFL’s top rookie. Not only has he played like the best first-year player in the NFL, but he should also have a legitimate case for an All-Pro designation. Wirfs possesses elite physical tools combined with a strong understanding of neutralizing pass rushers. His flexibility is arguably the best in the league, and he’s quickly become the top young tackle in the NFL. He is the top NFL rookie and maintains the top spot in the NFL Rookie Rankings Week 12.
Pre-draft ranking: Fifth overall, OT1
2. Chase Young, EDGE, Washington Football Team
Casual fans will bring up Chase Young’s sack numbers and claim he’s performed below expectations this season. This is a misinformed opinion and doesn’t do Young’s play any justice. Young took over the game against Cincinnati on Sunday, despite not registering a sack. He forced a goal-line fumble, registered a pass deflection, and was breathing down the neck of Burrow the entire game. Young has been the best performing defensive rookie this year. Despite the sack numbers, make no mistake, Young has without question been one of the top NFL rookies.
Pre-draft ranking: Top player, EDGE1
3. Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
Herbert took the win in a 34-28 shootout with Joe Flacco and the New York Jets. Herbert threw three touchdowns for the fifth time this season and completed just over 75 percent of his passes, the second-highest mark of his young career. With Burrow out for the year, Herbert should be the overwhelming favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 15, QB3
4. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings chose to move on from Stefon Diggs and used the first-round pick they received to select Justin Jefferson. Diggs is currently second in the NFL in receiving yards, and Jefferson leads all players in yards per route run and seventh in total receiving yards. This is one of those rare instances where a trade works out wonderfully for both parties. Jefferson registered 86 yards and a touchdown on only three receptions. For the first time all season, Jefferson has registered three straight strong performances. He is starting to put to rest my concerns about his week to week consistency.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 50, WR5
5. Mekhi Becton, OT, New York Jets
Mekhi Becton once again had a dominant effort in a loss for the Jets. Every game is a step towards Trevor Lawrence, the person Becton will likely be protecting for at least the next four years. Becton is dominant at the line of scrimmage and has been an impressive pass protector so far. As long as he can stay healthy in the future, he should be a perennial Pro Bowler and is clearly one of the top rookies in the NFL.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 25, OT4
6. Jedrick Wills, OT, Cleveland Browns
Jedrick Wills was dominant against Philadelphia, particularly in the run game. He gave up a sack to Eagles defensive end Josh Sweat but was otherwise a massive bright spot for Cleveland. Wills has displayed traits that will help him long-term, like quick and smooth feet, a nasty attitude, and natural power. What’s most impressive is his ability to move and locate defenders in space. Wills is a major bright side for Cleveland, who has every intention of making the postseason this year.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 10, OT2
7. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
This past Sunday, CeeDee Lamb displayed to the world why he received the highest body control grade I’ve ever given out to a wide receiver prospect. Making one of the most impressive catches of the season, he shows what makes him so special and why people are so excited for his future in the NFL. Dallas has done a good job recently getting creative with how they get Lamb touches, but he still doesn’t see a high volume of targets in a loaded offense.
Pre-draft ranking: Fourth overall, WR1
8. Julian Blackmon, S, Indianapolis Colts
Julian Blackmon continues to make plays for the Colts’ defense, this time against Aaron Rodgers and company. He recorded five tackles and a forced fumble and was a major reason Indianapolis could pull out the victory over Green Bay. A special player for the Colts’ defense, Blackmon continues to fly under the radar by casual fans when he should be a household name. He has quietly been one of the top NFL rookies, and not enough people are talking about him.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 175, S13
9. Michael Onwenu, iOL/OT/TE, New England Patriots
Michael Onwenu, the sixth-round rookie guard, faced future Hall of Famer and three-time Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt for most of the game on Sunday while playing right tackle. His performance? Outstanding. Giving up zero pressures on the game, Onwenu starts to look like he could be the Patriots’ full-time right tackle moving forward if they want to utilize him there. Wherever they play him, Onwenu will be a superstar for the New England offensive line.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 200, iOL20
10. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Chase Claypool is rounding out the top ten of the NFL Rookie Rankings Week 12. Claypool hasn’t enjoyed the same explosive receiving production he had early in the season, where he was averaging nearly 20 yards a reception. He has, however, become a much more consistent weapon for the Pittsburgh passing offense. Over his past four games, he’s averaging 56.5 yards per game and has found the end zone four times in that stretch.
Pre-draft ranking: Top 125, WR15